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A Beacon Of Light… Beginning Our Journey Of Life

July 20, 2021 Frontpage No Comments

By FR. RICHARD D. BRETON JR.

(Editor’s Note: Fr. Richard D. Breton Jr. is a priest of the Diocese of Norwich, Conn. He received his BA in religious studies and his MA in dogmatic theology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Conn.)

  • + + Do you ever feel like a hamster, on a wheel, running around and around, and yet getting nowhere? At some time or another, we have all had this feeling in our lives. Sometimes the demands of daily life outweigh the other more important aspects of our lives and we find ourselves just going through the motions. Feeling this way is a sure sign that we need a break!
    But what can we do to rejuvenate ourselves?
    One of the best things we can do to get away from the mundane activities of daily life is by spending some time with the Lord. Only the Lord provides the energy we need to begin again. This is usually done by making a retreat and it usually takes place somewhere other than our own homes.
    Over the next few weeks we will take a mini-retreat together refocusing ourselves on the Lord. It won’t take place at a retreat center or monastery; it will take place in the quiet time of prayer we offer each day.
    This mini-retreat will take four weeks. We will begin today with the introduction and then continue with three more weeks of reflections. Each week will focus on some aspect of the journey we are all on. It will be your responsibility to put aside time each week to read the next article and reflect upon the meditations given. I would suggest taking 15 minutes daily to reflect on the topics.
    So let us begin our retreat by placing ourselves in the presence of the Lord. It’s time to turn off our cell phones and find a quiet place to begin. Maybe by the garden or in a prayer space we already have in our homes. Go to that special place so you can be alone with the Lord.
    Let’s begin by praying a prayer:
    “Jesus, you invited the apostles to come away with you to a deserted place and rest a while. Like your apostles, enable me to experience you on retreat — your suffering love and tender compassion. May I come to better know myself, to draw closer to you, and to thus be of better service to my brothers and sisters in the Church. Help me to listen attentively, to ponder prayerfully, to respond generously, and to benefit from the solitude and peace. Through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Sorrows, may I and my fellow retreatants leave our retreat as deeply committed Christians, better able to follow your footsteps in all the opportunities and challenges of life. Amen.” (Pray this prayer each week before starting the new reflection.)
    This first week will be an introduction to the kind of journey this will be. By our very nature we are called to participate in a journey. This journey, however, has two parts. First we are called to live a journey of life. Second, we are called to live a journey of faith. Both may seem separate, but both are intertwined.
    The first journey is one of life itself. This is seen in the early moment of creation. The Book of Genesis reminds us that we were created for a unique purpose, meaning that we were created to do something, to journey somewhere. “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:26-27).

The Breath Of Life

God continues to remind us of the path of life, but He also wants us to journey together. We are not alone! Again in Genesis, God shows us how we are to walk together:
“The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’ Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.
“So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called “woman,” for she was taken out of man’” (Gen. 2:18-23).
Even though we are individuals we are part of a family of faith, united in the Body of Christ!
The second journey begins on the day of our Baptism. For on this day we begin a journey of faith with the Lord. It begins with the presentation of the child, or adult, at the door of the Church. The priest asks: “What name do you give your child?” Then having given the name, the parents are asked: “What do you ask of God’s Church?” The parents answer, “Baptism.” This is the moment we begin the journey of faith. The journey of faith begins with the breath of life being placed in us.
“And the Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth: and breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul” (Gen. 2:7). It’s like when a newborn baby comes out of the womb and takes that first breath of fresh air. Baptism is the freshness of the air of the Lord. The journey of faith continues in the water of Baptism. The moment the water is poured over the crown of the baptized, they become children of God. This entitles them to a share in the many gifts from the Lord, particularly the gifts of the theological virtues. These virtues are infused, or embossed, in the soul. Faith to know God, Hope to see Him in Heaven, and Love to be shared with others.

Navigating The Way

Having been created and embarked on journeyings of life and faith, we are now called to follow the many examples presented to us from God. These examples show us how we need to navigate on the way to the heavenly Kingdom. The prophets of old are good examples for us. They each experienced a call to journey for the Lord.
The Prophet Isaiah was prominent in announcing the way of the Messiah. “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’ He said, ‘Go, and tell this people: “Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand”.’ ‘Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed.’ Then I said, ‘Lord, how long?’ And He answered, ‘Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, Houses are without people, And the land is utterly desolate’” (Isaiah 8:8-11).
In a similar way, the Prophet Jeremiah is also called to journey. “Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.’ Then I said, ‘Alas, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, Because I am a youth.’ But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, I am a youth, Because everywhere I send you, you shall go, And all that I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, For I am with you to deliver you,’ declares the Lord.
“Then the Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me, ‘Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, To pluck up and to break down, To destroy and to overthrow, To build and to plant’” (Jer. 1:4-10).
The Prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah show us that even the prophets were skeptical of the journey they were being called to take. Like them, we might have an aversion or fear of searching deep within ourselves. We may not want to find out where we need to make changes in our lives. Don’t worry because we have been given the necessary gear to help us in our journeys of life and faith.
Next week we will learn about this special gear. Gear that is essential for the rest of our lives.

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