Strengthen Our Faith, O Lord

30 Aug

“Help me to journey beyond the familiar and into the unknown.  Give me the faith to leave old ways and break fresh ground with You.”  ~ St. Brendan

We learn, at a very young age, what words are acceptable and what words are bad.  Many of us have had our mouths washed out with soap for saying “dirty words” when we were young.  There is another word that is often considered foul: “change”.  We do not like change.  We can even come to loathe it.  Yet, without change, everything would stagnate.

Can you imagine what a pond or lake would become if the water did not change regularly?  If new water did not flow through, bringing with it fresh, oxygenated water and removing debris and contamination, the body of water would quickly die.  It would not be able to sustain the lives of fish or even of plants.

That is only one example of the necessity for change.  In our own lives, we can easily fall into a rut if we do not entertain the possibility of change.  I see that in my own life as a priest.  I am at one of the largest parishes in our diocese and we have one of the largest schools.  I never would have come to this parish had I not accepted the opportunity for change throughout my priesthood.  My earlier assignments as a high school teacher, a campus minister, a chaplain at an orphanage, an inner city pastor, a more rural pastor, and even as a chaplain at prisons gave me a lot of insight and experience to bring to a large parish.

If I had refused my earlier assignments, I would not be where I am now.  Instead, I probably would be at a small, rural parish somewhere counting the days to retirement.

The changes in my assignments have also brought about changes in my prayer life.  Where once I was more mechanical, just “doing” prayer at the appropriate times, my prayer through the years has evolved into a constant communication with God.  It is both comfortable and challenging.  Since my prayer is now more conversational, I need to make sure to allot the time that I need to have a good heart-to-heart with God rather than just snatching little bits of time because I had become distracted by other things that needed to be done at the parish or in my life.

St. Brendan knew that change was so important.  “Help me to journey beyond the familiar and into the unknown.  Give me the faith to leave old ways and break fresh ground with You.”  It is hard to leave old ways behind and to strike out anew.  It is only in doing so that we have life-changing and renewing experiences.  Do not be afraid of change.  Instead, embrace it.

FAITH ACTION:  Do not be afraid to leave some of your old ways of praying behind.  Break fresh ground in your relationship with the Lord today.