Navigating Life's Mission
How much do you give to God during Mass? Do you sing every song with joy and praise in your heart? Do you contemplate the scriptures before and after Mass? Do you prepare yourself to receive Jesus? Why do you go to Mass?
These are the questions Fr. Hampton Davis posed to me when I was an eighteen-year-old college student trying to justify (in Confession) that I was skipping Mass. My rationalizations were: “I didn’t get anything out of it,” “I was tired from my busy week,” “the priest was boring,” “it was so monotonous.”
I am a cradle Catholic; but at age eighteen my intentional faith journey really began. In truth, I was just going to Mass back then because it was an obligation. I wasn’t focused on worshiping Him with gratitude for all of the blessings in my life, and my lack of focus and preparation was a testament to my lack of engagement in my faith. I had to do better! I decided to start focusing on what I was giving back to God instead of what I was getting out of Mass. That was twenty-seven years ago, and I have never left Mass feeling unfulfilled since. “For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” Luke 6:38 (NABRE)
I am a wife and mother. I am a Registered Nurse. I am also a local business owner, car dealer, sister, friend, volunteer, daughter-in-law, grad student, etc. etc. I am busy just like each of you. However, a few years ago, I came to the difficult realization that I am not in control of anything. My only sister died by suicide in February 2012, and four months later my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer; he died in October 2012. Feeling heartbroken, carrying a full load of work, and trying to take care of everyone around me, I finally fell to my knees. It was in my brokenness that I realized if I am too busy for a relationship with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit…I am too busy. I also realized that I couldn’t help everyone, I couldn’t fix everything, and I had to trust Jesus. I had to trust His plan. I had to accept His will, and I needed to not only survive with Him, but to thrive with Him and the joy and peace that He offers.
It was in my pain and suffering that I reached out and searched for Jesus’ healing. It was on my knees praying daily and weekly before the Most Blessed Sacrament and in Mass that I encountered Him. It was praying with the ladies in my Come! Lord Jesus Group and reading the Holy Scriptures that my conversion began, and Jesus revealed my hardness of heart and my own sinfulness. It was through receiving the Sacraments, especially Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist that my growth was fostered in His grace. The more I received the sacraments and studied scripture the more I wanted to know, love, and receive Jesus. Jesus then called me back to school to study Theology, and now I continue to grow in my faith and prepare for His mission in my life.
The Parish Life Cycle offers us an opportunity to evaluate where we are in our faith journey and helps us navigate where we are going. If your goal in life is to one day meet our Creator face to face in Heaven…why wait till death to spend time with the One you want to spend eternity with?
Our beloved Church is not changing—the rules are still the rules. The Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, Sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture are still guiding us. However, we as a Church community need to start talking about how to cut away all of the distractions that are keeping us from growing in our faith and experiencing Jesus in a real relationship. I trust Fr. Michael and his amazing team to lead us in this dialogue with tools like the Parish Life Cycle.
So how much are you giving back to God? Are you ready to grow in your relationship with Jesus? My prayer for each of you is that your answer is yes!