Have you ever tried to buy something, looked in your wallet, and realized there was nothing in it? If I had a dollar for every time that happened to me, I probably wouldn’t have an empty wallet very often. It’s easy to see that you can’t buy anything when you have no money (all those with credit cards are smirking at this). However, this speaks to me and my spiritual life. Sometimes I find myself trying to give and give, but I never focus on receiving. I thought this was the best way to go about it! After a while it can lead to exhaustion and stress.
In Pope Benedict’s first encyclical ‘God is Love’, he says “Anyone who wishes to give love must also receive love as a gift.” Before I came to Covecrest, I was on the Core Team at a parish in Florida. It has a special place in my heart, and the people there are my family. One thing I struggled with was constantly trying to give but not allowing myself to receive. I had adopted a spirit of “graduation” where I felt I was done learning and being a disciple because I was now an apostle. I wanted to go out and help the teens there, but was not open to anyone helping me. The truth is, I was trying to pour out of an empty cup. Real fruit comes in allowing the Lord’s grace to fill me to the point where it overflows onto others. Sitting at the feet of Jesus and allowing Him to fill me does more good for the Church than me trying to give what I don’t have.
One of our goals for this formation year is to ‘simply be in the presence of Christ’. When I first heard that, my thought was “Okay…when do I lead my first small group? When am I giving my first talk? When do all the teens show up?” I am amazed at how much time I have to simply be. Hours in the chapel, by the lake, and under the trees, give me time to pray, to read, to journal, and to receive. I pray that I will decrease so the Lord can increase. Hopefully as I continue to turn my eyes and my heart towards Christ, I will be consumed by Him to the point where people who I encounter see not me, but Christ within me. Sitting at His feet and allowing Him to send me out is a huge part of formation and I’m extremely grateful for it. The Lord continues to revive me. He wants me to know that I am His beloved son and nothing I do will make Him love me any more or less. In this beautiful freedom, I can go where He leads me. I strive to be aware and thankful for the opportunities He gives me to spread His love, whether it be through a smile, a conversation with one person, or while giving a talk at a retreat. I also strive to be holy even when no one’s watching. St. John of the Cross wisely said, “God is more pleased by one work, however small, done secretly, without desire that it be known, than a thousand works done with desire that men know of them.” Small victories throughout the day will help strengthen our spirit and better prepare us for the bigger battles that life presents. The stronger my relationship with the Lord and the more peace in my soul, the more I will be able to love sincerely. Contemplation gives us missionaries the chance to hear the Lord’s voice, and to make room in our hearts for Him to dwell. We strive to follow joyfully where He leads us. Again, in the words of St. John of the Cross, “Contemplation is nothing else than a secret, peaceful, and loving infusion of God, which if admitted, will set the soul on fire with the Spirit of love.”
For everyone reading this, I invite you to ask the Lord to bless you each morning with the grace to empty yourself and allow Him to fill you. Pray for patience when sitting on the bench, so when the Lord calls you in to the big game, you’ll be ready to roll.
God bless you!
“Certainly, as the Lord tells us, one can become a source from which rivers of living water flow. Yet to become such a source, one must constantly drink anew from the original source, which is Jesus Christ.” Pope Benedict XVI