Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
We are so grateful you choose to take this Online Spiritual Journey each day with us. Because we work to reopen our guest and seminary ministries this month, we are discontinuing the weekly video portion of the Online Spiritual Journey. We will, however, continue to provide daily written reflections in your inbox and at lent.conceptionabbey.org.
A longstanding maxim of the Church is lex orandi, lex credendi – “the law of prayer is the law of belief.” In other words, how we pray teaches us what we believe.
The opening prayer for this Sunday beseeches the Lord to,
answer [our] prayers with unceasing kindness,
that, for those who glory in you as their Creator and guide,
you may restore what you have created
and keep safe what you have restored.
What can we learn about the content of Christian belief from this Mass oration?
The first insight is this: prayer, the liturgy, is not primarily about us. I know, I know, the first statement I site says, “answer our prayers!” Nevertheless, from there the prayer shifts us. It is a frequent complaint that, “I don’t get anything out of Mass.” Why? “Because it’s boring.” And even a devout person seeking God may be tempted to ask, “Am I focused enough? Do I look holy? Where are the signs I’m on the right track?” Even these latter questions – though not bad in themselves – shift focus from God back to our experience. Yet prayer is not foremost about us, but turning to Almighty God.
Thus, secondly, following this we recognize the Father as both Creator and guide. God is the one who gave us life, but that life is then meant to be given back to Him by fulfilling His will. This was impossible through works of the Law. So in the fullness of time, One who was God came to our aid by taking on our human nature and becoming the righteousness we were unable to perform. So turning from our own preoccupations we see Christ Jesus, and there we find restoration in a New Creation in baptism and are kept safe through further participation in the sacramental life.
Pope St. John Paul II said that the more we give ourselves away in service to others, ironically, the happier we become. In a similar way, the more we turn from ourselves toward God, the more holy we become. To be in relationship with God through prayer and worship has the concomitant effect of bringing about a wondrous exchange from glory to glory in us.
What do I get out of Mass? Do people see me as holy? Am I really blessed? Forget those questions, seek the face of God, and watch these anxieties melt away.
Reflection Question: When I think of a spouse, family member, or friend, do I wish to be with them because they do things for me or because I love them? Likewise, do I go to God because of what He does for me or for Him alone?
Reflection by Fr. Pachomius Meade, OSB