The last few months

Epiphany 3 – Wednesday
Feast of Saints Timothy & Titus

So yesterday was the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. It’s highly appropriate that the church celebrates the feast of Sts. Timothy & Titus then on the next day. We remember how Paul was the spiritual father (here on earth) who led Timothy and Titus to the Lord and ultimately assisted the Lord in commissioning them to be presbyters and as bishops of Ephesus (Timothy) and Gortyn in Crete (Titus) in the first century AD. I cannot help but remember those who the Lord has placed in my life who have taught and led me in the faith on this day. And I give thanks to God on this day for St. Paul, his witness and teaching to Sts. Timothy and Titus and the epistles to both of them that are now recorded in Holy Scripture.

Heavenly Father,
who sent your apostle Paul to preach the gospel,
and gave him Timothy and Titus
to be his companions in faith:
grant that our fellowship in the Holy Spirit
may bear witness to the name of Jesus,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

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In 2005 I began my entry into learning about monastic life and practices as a layperson. I was very much impressed by the Benedictine approach to living out the Christian faith. Particularly the contemplative aspect of faith, something which is (sadly) lacking in many Protestant church groups. From the Benedictines, I have learnt to really love prayer with God – whether it is from my breviary or it is extempore. Even during the times when I don’t even “feel” like I want to pray to Him.

I then began to see the value in other approaches to living out the Christian faith, mainly from religious orders/congregations that primarily have their roots in the Roman Catholic Church. From the Dominicans, I learnt to love the study of Scripture and theology (thank you Fr. Timothy Radcliffe and St. Thomas Aquinas). From the Franciscans, I learnt to love the world and all that God has created (thank you St. Francis). From the Cistercians and Trappists, I learnt the value of silence and that friendship with God and others is one of the primary goals of the Christian’s life (thank you “Fr. Louis”, Thomas Merton OCSO and St. Aelred of Rievaulx). I have had spiritual guides surrounding me from ages past over the last five years.

And now, I am learning from another “school” within the Church: the Jesuits.

It first started off with reading Andrew Krivak’s memoirs of his life as Jesuit novice titled “A Long Retreat”. Then I began to look at the works of St. Ignatius of Loyola (or as some Jesuits call him, Iñigo or Iggy), primarily his Spiritual Exercises. And now, Fr. James Martin SJ is the latest in a line of spiritual fathers whose works are the tools that God is using to help form me into being the man that God wants me to be. In particular it is The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything that is helping me out amid other books and quotes from Jesuits past and present.

Right now, this particular quote attributed to the former superior general of the Jesuits, Pedro Arrupe SJ, sums up what the current state of play in my life is.

Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.

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