Thanks so much for the wonderful introductions posted last week as we began our retreat! Your stories were very inspiring and they helped to form a sense of community as we venture forth in this retreat. If you’re just joining us, you can go back and experience Week One here and then come back to jump in to week two.
As we did last week, I invite you to begin this week by viewing the following brief video introduction on the theme of An Openness to God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
An Openness to God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
In my book, A Well-Built Faith, I tell the following story:
A stunt man was thrilling crowds gathered at the Niagara Falls, making his way across a tightrope that stretched from one end of the Falls to the other while riding a unicycle and carrying another person on his shoulders! As he and his passenger successfully dismounted on solid ground, the crowd broke into wild applause. The stunt man thanked the crowd and asked, “How many of you truly believe that I can do that again?” Having just witnessed the amazing stunt, everyone in the crowd raised their hand. The stunt man then mounted his unicycle and pointed to his shoulders asking, “Alright, then, who’s next?”
To believe is to enter into relationship with another and to place our trust in that person. It is to stand on their shoulders and allow them to carry us. Such trust is not easy!
In my 8th grade class this past year, I began a class on the topic of “placing our trust in God” by having the kids listen to a song by Linkin Park called From the Inside. Take a look at the lyrics here. The song captures the angst that young people feel when it comes to the issue of trust.
And along we come as catechists, telling them to place their faith (trust) in God! No easy task!
On the other hand, we’re not asking them to do anything that we ourselves have not already done: place their trust in God. As catechists, we have come to the conclusion that our lives need to be centered in God. We have tried to find fulfillment in other places and, like Saint Augustine, have come to the conclusion that, “our hearts are restless, Lord, until they find their rest in You.” Like any other human being, however, we struggle with this and need to continually remind ourselves of where we need to place our trust. To do this, we practice an opennes to God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
To be open to God is to be open to a relationship with the Trinity – a relationship of self-giving love. All relationships involve trust and to trust is risky. Perhaps the greatest risk of our lives was the risk we took in baptism – the day we gave our hearts to God…the day we climbed on God’s shoulders and said, “I trust you.” Time and again, throughout salvation history, God has proven that he is worthy of that trust. This is what we teach to our students: that God is worthy of their trust!
During these summer months, let’s take the time to renew our openness to God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Let’s reflect on how God has shown, in our own lives, that he is worthy of our trust. Renewed by this, we will be inspired to confidently teach others that their placing trust in God will not be in vain!
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Week Two Reflection Questions (click here week-2-reflection-questions1 for downloadable pdf) – over the next few days, feel free to ponder these reflection questions pertaining to this week’s theme. Then, return here to Catechist’s Journey and share some of your reflections with your fellow retreatants.
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For Further Reflection: Pope Benedict XVI spoke about how our openness to God’s love can heal humanity.
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SPIRITUAL EXERCISES – During the course of this week, practice one or more of the following spiritual exercises designed to deepen your opennes to God. Feel free to share the fruits of your exercises with your fellow retreatants by posting your comments any time this week.
- Pray fervently at the beginning of each day to give your heart to God. If it has not already been a practice for you, begin each day this week by praying the Suscipe of Saint Ignatius of Loyola.
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding
and my entire will.
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To You, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace.
That is enough for me.
- Openness to God leads us to open ourselves up to possibilities. This, in turn, leads us to live in hope. As you progress through this week, jot down in a journal or just on an index card, at last TEN things that you are hoping for. Do so by completing this sentence: “I am hoping for/that…” Keep this list nearby during the week so that you can glance at it frequently. When you do so, pray Psalm 62:
My soul rests in God alone, from whom comes my salvation.
God alone is my rock and salvation, my secure height; I shall never fall.
How long will you set upon people, all of you beating them down,
As though they were a sagging fence or a battered wall?
Even from my place on high they plot to dislodge me.
They delight in lies; they bless with their mouths, but inwardly they curse.
My soul, be at rest in God alone, from whom comes my hope.
God alone is my rock and my salvation, my secure height, I shall not fall.
My safety and glory are with God, my strong rock and refuge.
Trust in God at all times, my people! Pour out your hearts to God our refuge! (New American Bible)
- Openness to God is manifested in openness to others. Each day this week, make a specific plan to perform an out-of-the-ordinary act of hospitality that opens you up to another person or group of people. This act can be done at home, at work, or in your community. Before or after performing the act of hospitality, pray an Act of Love (Charity)
O Lord God, I love you above all things
and I love my neighbor for your sake
because you are the highest, infinite and perfect good,
worthy of all my love.
In this love I intend to live and die. Amen.
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Recommended Reading on the topic of openness to God:
- Bumping Into God: 35 Stories of Finding God in Unexpected Places (Fr. Dominic Grassi)
- Bumping Into God Again: 35 More Stories of Finding God in Unexpected Places (Fr. Dominic Grassi)
- Just As You Are: Opening Your Life to the Infinite Love of God (Paul Coutinho, SJ)