My semester officially started last week. So far things have kicked into high gear right away. There has been absolutely no messing around. Last Thursday my day started with 9:00a.m. mass at St. Thomas More and then I spent the day with Steve, Jim Beckman, and Dave. Dave and Steve are two friends and classmmates and Jim is a Youth Minister in the area who started a place called the Impact Center which is a resource center for Youth Ministers. Jim is an amazing holy guy who I am learning a lot from. Well Jim asked us to help him with a project. He is currently developping a discipleship model of Youth Ministry. There are currently two parishes in the Denver area piloting this model. It is a program that is based on small group bible studies in which teens are placed in a group with volunteer leaders. So far it is proving to be very successful for the two parishes pioloting the program. So anyway, I digress I spent the day helping Jim write curriculum for the studies as well as a curriculum for the training of the Youth Ministers across the country that want to implement this model.
After a full day of that I headed to class. Moral and Spiritual Theology with Dr. Sri. This class is going to kick my butt this semester. I also had a slight freak out during this class. We began the class talking about Prayer and how we can get the most out of the class. With that came our reading list. I'll say this, normally in Dr. Sri's classes I'll admit I don't do the reading because I haven't had time and everything is based on the notes. This class will be very different. We have to keep a reading log of all the assignments. The log requieres we grade ourselves on the following scale: 1- I did not finish the reading, 2- I did all the reading but read it rushed and unprayerfully, 3- I did all the reading slowly and prayerfully. WOW, I thought this is going to kick my butt. At that moment as I was looking at the list I started to slightly panic about how much was there, the fact that I had a Thesis due, reading for Dr. Reye's class, a take home for my Paul Class, two papers to write aside from the Thesis, all the stuff going on at work, and just how basically this next semester is going to kill me. I left the class freaking out about how much I suck at being Holy and how there is no way I would survive this semester.
I got home and was in a terrible mood and was ready to throw in the towel. I stopped, breathed and realized the only thing I could think of to do was to go pray. So I went to adoration. I said Evening prayer followed by a Novena to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal I'm praying with Nick Seiler and then I journaled for a bit. I then picked up our first assignment for Dr. Sri. A book called: SEARCHING FOR AND MAINTAINING PEACE by Fr. Jacques Philippe. Our assignment is to read one section of it every day for the whole semester (one of many others of course). Each section is fairly short. Dr. Sri asked us to read it slowly, prayerfully and meditate on it. So I decided that is exactly what I would do. I read the first section and man did it kick my butt. The key part of the meditation focused on the words of Jesus, "Apart from me you can do nothing!" This is exactly what I needed to hear! This is why I was freaking out, I was trying to do this all on my own. There is no way I'm going to get through this semester if I try and do it all myself! I will only get through this with God's grace. I need to learn to move to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and as the the song "Your Love is Extravagant Says," I need to find myself moving to the rythms of His grace!
So I have continued everyday since that spending 30-45 minutes in adoration reading through the reading assignments we've had for this week. I've continued in the Peace book and also read some of the most amazing writings of Mother Theresa and Fr. Dubay. The most beautiful part about it is, that I'm finding myself really reflecting on the readings and taking them to heart. I feel like I'm having very intimate conversation with my Lord. For the first time in my life I am learning to truly meditate in prayer. I mean I have done it before but I'm taking the time to do it regularly. For the longest time it seems like I looked at prayer as a check list: mass, check, Liturgy of the Hours, check, Rosary, check. And I was doing all these things and don't get me wrong they are all good things and I'm still doing those daily but I am starting to realize the necessity of meditation, in other words real conversation with my Lord. That conversation involves not only talking but LISTENING. Something so many of us forget. I'm so excited for this semester now. We will be reading Augustine, St. Therese, St. John of the Cross, Catherine of Sienna, and St. Theresa of Avila. I'm really pumped to see how God continues to speak to me through all these incredible Saints and witnesses.
Of course I'm sure it will be a struggle. I won't feel like praying every day like I do right now and I will have to push through. But I can just feel the grace flowing right now. I hope to continue to take the words, "Apart from me you can do nothing" to heart. God is about to take me on a journey I never even imagined this last semester. It is sure to be one heck of a ride!