Learning to let grace find me

March 6, 2009 | Uncategorized

Sometimes things happen that really catch me off guard, in a good way. I get a phone call or meet someone and think, yes, this is God’s hand at work in my life. I may not know why or how it will affect things down the road, but I have a clear sense that it’s all beyond anything I’m doing. That has happened several times this week, which makes it even more powerful. It’s like grace upon grace entering into my life.

First I came home from Denver, fired up by the people I met and the experience of spending so much time with so many Catholics. Several readers have asked what I was talking about when I was in Denver. Well, my presentation was on the “Lost Generation,” those adult Catholics who are disconnected from the faith and how we might reach out to them and welcome them into a loving community. Normally public speaking is really at the very bottom of my list of favorite things to do. I believe I ranked it right behind being buried alive in a previous post on the subject. But Denver was exactly where I needed to be last weekend. I knew that almost from the moment my plane landed. And although I was nervous, as usual, when my first workshop approached, I really did find a way to put it in God’s hands and allow whatever was meant to happen to unfold. The result was so good it startled me — so much so that I wasn’t even nervous the next day when it was time for my workshop. That, to me, was a revelation, a sign that if we are willing to open ourselves up to something, even something we might not really want to do, we often find ourselves exactly where we need to be.

This week has been more of the same. I came home to a pile of work and a bunch of interviews that needed to be done. All I can say is that those interviews, with four different Sisters of Saint Joseph who are retreat masters and spiritual directors, were more like spiritual experiences, not at all like work. I am lucky in that I rarely find my work to be a chore. A challenge, yes, but not a chore. It is too immersed in spirituality and God and faith to ever be really burdensome. As I sat and talked with the sisters about silence and prayer and just how powerful retreats can be in our “regular” lives once we return home, I had the distinct feeling that I was supposed to be learning a lesson, not just writing a story.

Fast forward to today. An unexpected phone call leading me in new directions — possibly. An email offering a spiritual lift. And, best of all, a package in the mail that both surprised and touched me. I saw something from Denver and assumed it was an official follow-up of some sort to my workshop. But it was not. It was a note from a Dominican novice who attended my second workshop and stayed after to talk to me. In the process of discussing various things, I happened to mention that I never got my copy of Magnificat’s Lenten Companion. I just said it in passing because we were talking about related things. Anyway, there in my mailbox was a copy of the Lenten Companion with a note thanking me for my presentation and for focusing attention on the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I realize that may not seem like a big deal, but for me it really is. Part of me was so nervous when I saw two Dominicans sitting out in my audience at my workshop (to be rivaled only by the presence of both an auxiliary bishop and the head of evangelization for the archdiocese at the previous day’s workshop). I spotted those Dominican habits and immediately thought: Great, Dominicans. After all, they’re preachers. Surely they’d be better standing up there. But I let that thought go and remembered that, for whatever reason, I was the one meant to be there that day. And by opening myself up to that possibility, that reality, I opened myself up to the graces that come with trusting in God’s plan. And now I feel those graces multiplying — in something as simple as a note from a novice.

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