Contemplatives in Action
February 23, 2022
Our time in Galilee is winding down. For me, this has been my favorite part of the pilgrimage. We are away from the noise, the traffic, and the crowds of the cities. We get to wake up to sunrises on the Sea of Galilee. We are within walking distance from where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount, where he multiplied the loaves and the fish, where he appeared to the disciples on the shore after the Resurrection, where he preached and healed in Capernaum. We spent our canonical retreat on the Sea of Galilee, where our Lord called his first disciples to follow him! What a GIFT! Part of me does not want to leave Galilee. For me, this space embodies peace, mercy, self-gift. The landscape is a powerful reminder of the graces of retreat as diaconate ordination approaches. The lake probably does not look much different from what Jesus saw.
But as much as I want to stay in Galilee, I can almost hear the voice of Jesus, in words similar to those that he spoke to the apostles at the Last Supper, saying, “It is better for you to go” (see John 16:7). Part of this pilgrimage is learning how to be “contemplatives in action” upon our return home. In other words, as future priests, we must learn the virtue of constant prayer, of being with Jesus amidst the busyness of daily life and not only when we are on retreat or on pilgrimage. Back home, we cannot carve out as much time and space for silence and prayer that we had while on retreat. As priests know about the parish (and as families know about the home!), daily life is NOT a retreat. Our lives are filled with schedules, distractions, work. And yet, Jesus desires to give us his peace AMIDST the craziness. Even though we might not have the opportunity for a formal retreat, we can put our phones on “Do Not Disturb” for 10 minutes of silence each day. Families can set aside time on Sunday to go to Mass and then have the kiddos’ favorite breakfast together at home. Couples can pray with each other and for each other every day. Students can throw up a prayer during their study. Employees can sanctify their work by praying before and after their shift. And perhaps most importantly, we can always turn to God in the silence of our hearts even when our external environments are anything but peaceful.
May God give us the gift of prayer without ceasing…not as an escape from the craziness of daily life, but as a way to enter the busyness, knowing that God is with us even there, wanting to flood us with his peace.
Diocese of Joliet