Friday, July 4, 2014

7 QT: Back to business as usual

I have been on a wild ride over the last few months, starting with spending every waking moment building and testing an instrument for a CubeSat project, punctuated with brief trips to New England to visit my grandmother who was dying of cancer. The instrument shipped and gramma passed away very peacefully followed by a really wonderful funeral service. I spent about one week recovering, attended a pilgrimage day with my friend Becky, and then traveled to Portsmouth VA for a science conference. When I got back I attended the Ordination Mass in Baltimore and then left for science conference #2 in Seattle WA. The next weekend I chaperoned a youth group trip to a Steubenville Youth Conference. After a few days back at work, I'm now back in New England visiting for the Independence Day weekend. So yeah… pretty wild.

--- 1 ---

My friend Becky and I went to the annual pilgrimage day at the Shrine of St. Anthony in Ellicott City. We heard some great talks by Ralph Martin and prayed the stations of the cross and the rosary. Becky chose to go to confession during the rosary and encountered a priest with the gift of prophecy! He knew what intentions she had been praying for and whether or not God had answered them. Supposedly all Baptized persons have been given the gift of prophecy and need only to develop it.

--- 2 ---

My examination of conscience often reveals that I say and do things without thinking about them ahead of time, simply reacting to external circumstances. I have struggled to become more aware of my behaviors in order to be in control of my actions, but it is a slow process. In addition, I have been conscious of the fact that I am not very recollected and can go for hours focused on wordly distractions, only to realize later that I had not once thought of God. After reading the book Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, I made some valiant attempts at drawing my mind back to God whenever I noticed it straying. But that doesn't help during these hour long stretches. One has to notice the problem in order to correct it.

--- 3 ---

The weather during our first meeting in Portsmouth VA was hot and humid. No surprises there. Although the conference center was heavily air conditioned, the heat drove people indoors. And because I was staying at a hotel a few blocks away, my socializing was kept to a minimum. However, this private time was great for meditation and I began to notice how rushed I am in all of my actions. I realized that I will never be recollected enough to practice the presence of God or aware enough to be deliberate in my actions until I SLOW DOWN! Making a conscious effort to slow down immediately freed me from a sense of underlying anxiety that I had never noticed until it was gone. In preparing these Quick Takes I came across this article called Letting Go of the Rushed Life by a man who seems rather 'spiritual but not religious' but has some helpful advice. I'm considering adopting his Seven Silent Prayers, including "Refuse to defend yourself when anyone else wrongly accuses you." On the surface this seems scandalous and counterproductive, but many Saints have said the same.

--- 4 ---

On June 21 I went to the Ordination Mass in Baltimore. There is an amazing slideshow HERE. Five men were ordained to the priesthood and two are close friends of my buddy seminarian Jeremy. I got to received communion from freshly ordained Fr. Andy and was way more excited than I expected to be for these friends-of-a-friend. So I can't imagine what it will be like when there is only one degree of separation. Or would it be zero degrees?? Anyway, when an actual friend becomes a priest.

--- 5 ---

In Seattle I was staying just a couple blocks away from an amazing Dominican parish called Blessed Sacrament. They have windows depicting Dominican Saints including St. Albert the Great, one of the Patron Saints of Scientists. This parish has eucharistic adoration and chanting of the Divine Office before each weekday Mass and confession every Thursday. The priest gave a homily on Matthew 7:18 which says, "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit." He said that this statement is often confusing to people since our actions are always a mixture of good and bad. So he suggested that we think about it in terms of ideology and lifestyle. A bad ideology does not bear good fruit. And if our way of life is producing bad fruit then we should change it as soon as possible.

--- 6 ---

The Steubenville Youth Conference was fun. Franciscan University is unabashedly charismatic in worship style so there were a lot of hands raised, tears, youths resting in the spirit, etc. During a four hour eucharistic procession I learned just how pathetic I am when it comes to kneeling. Another chaperone told me that her friend who is in formation with the Capuchin Franciscans says the key is not shifting or moving at all once kneeling. Apparently, if one kneels without moving the knees go numb so that he can stay down for much longer.

--- 7 ---

This Independence Day weekend I went to the Shrine of the North American Martyrs while mom was working. The main building, called the colosseum, is a huge circular enclosure with a high ceiling and park bench-type pews. Although sheltered from the elements it gives a sense of being outdoors and it was not hard to imagine the Jesuit missionaries offering Mass on a makeshift altar in the wilderness. The shrine museum exhibit says that they often used overturned birchbark canoes as altars. Currently a huge fundraising effort is underway to cover some much needed repairs to be completed before next year in hopes that Pope Francis will stop by during his 2015 trip to USA. An invitation has been extended.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

1 comment:

  1. I am in number 1! That's awesome! Great post! ;) And I'm headed to Anthony's (that's what you know who calls it) on Sunday. But great quick takes!