I had the pleasure of travelling to Winnipeg, Manitoba, for Manitoba Provincial Council’s Day of Celebration, February 8, 2020. Members and non-members alike (approximately 125 people) spent the day together at Christ the King Parish Hall, where the focus was on celebrating being a member of the League. This allowed me an opportunity to speak of my journey to choosing the theme for the two-year term and listening to Manitoba Provincial Spiritual Advisor Father Paul Bringleson (Flin Flon) give an outstanding presentation on the subject of prayer. This experience is the focus of my adventure.
Father Paul gave an energetic reflection, which motivated me to give more serious thought to what constitutes real prayer. He presented many gems that I will always remember, a few of which are stated here. We need to take care of our spiritual home as well as our natural home; we cannot presume we are people of prayer; the primary purpose of prayer is to allow ourselves to be changed, and change is essential for growth; we must look at our brokenness and not at our shame and guilt; and, that powerlessness is the beginning of prayer.
I could write a paragraph about each statement. The thoughts mesmerized me by their simplicity. Prayer, for example, is essential to what we do daily. That is simple enough, but do we actually pray with the intensity that lets God into our lives, so that we may get closer to Him? Father Paul said faith grows because of attraction, not instruction. Catholics know from the scriptures that Jesus was charismatic, loved by the thousands who came to him. Of course, He continues to be attractive to the world, which supports the statement; otherwise, Jesus would not continue to be known. We will never bring people to God just through instruction, as is evident in seeing how the young have a different notion of prayer than we do. They are committed, but show how they need to be “fed” in a different way.
To increase awareness of God, the example is of our lives. How often do I reflect upon my influence on my children, grandchildren, extended family and friends, just by my witness? Going through the drudgery of daily life is the common denominator for all of us; our successes and failures can be brought to God. It is more than a little comfort to know that God will never abandon us, no matter what we do—believing this, of course, is more difficult. Father Paul reminded us that God’s people have broken every covenant made with them. While we could be cowering shamefaced, instead, God lovingly calls us to Him and remains constant while we are away from Him.
Though Father Paul’s presentation included too many ideas to include here, I want to mention “mercy,” which he defined as “the wound of wretchedness.” During the Eucharistic liturgy, we ask the Lord to have mercy on us many times, indicating that we want God to come into our wounds, which are messy and disgusting. When we stand before God, He says He’s willing to stand with us in our wounds, out of His love for us. God wants to be present in the worst parts of our lives. If He would do this for us by example, it is important for me to attempt to do likewise with my brothers and sisters. Much as I would like to say I can do this, it is harder to do than say. Thank you, Manitoba Provincial President Janet Brunger, for allowing me this opportunity.
The mid-term national executive/board gathering weekend in Toronto followed from February 20-23, 2020. It gave me an opportunity to practice praying and witnessing. My flight home had been unknowingly changed, so I was re-routed and arrived home a day later than expected. Had I not had the opportunity to recall my need to examine how I respond to unexpected events, I am sure my patience would have been tried. So, three hours of sleep between flights became a time to consider the value of this minor interruption in my life.
Until I write about another adventure, I remain your sister and pray for a beautiful Lenten season for all of us.