Christ leads us to new life - Catholic Courier
Matthew H. Clark Matthew H. Clark

Christ leads us to new life

I have been pleased with the reactions I have received to our announcement of “Spirit Alive,” the three-year program of spiritual renewal which will begin in Lent.
 

People have written or spoken to me of their pleasure that we will be engaging in this effort toward spiritual renewal as a diocesan family. They like the intentional, community approach to it. They are pleased that we will be dealing with common themes and materials. But, they also are delighted that there will be ample opportunity for individuals and parish communities to express their own personalities, to put their own touch on things.
 

Several people have sent in ideas that they would like our planning groups to consider for incorporation into the process. And, several individuals have favored me by sharing personal stories of how their own spiritual wheels have been activated by the prospect of sharing this experience together.
When I sent out the announcement letter, I did so with considerable enthusiasm. The idea had strong support in the consultation that led up to it. The time seemed right.
 

I also sent the letter with the firm intention to open my own spirit to the process and to be with you as deeply as possible in the whole experience. To that end, I have tried to be more faithful to prayer and have asked a lot of questions of the Lord: What do you ask of me? What do you want me to hear that I am not hearing? To do that I am not doing? To see that I am missing?
To be honest, I don’t have any clear answers to those questions to report. But, I have noticed that my prayer leads me more and more these days to the realization that the Christian life is a continuing conversation with the Lord. The Lord calls or invites us. We respond. That conversation is an expression of our relationship with Christ into whose life we have been baptized — a life of intimate, lifelong, sometimes demanding, always consoling friendship.
 

The experience has been a reminder to me, and a confirmation — of a conviction deep in me that the Lord leads us to new life everyday that we live. In the beautiful image of Isaiah, the Lord is the potter and we are the clay. God continually shapes and molds us all the days of our lives.
The image of being fashioned by the Lord as the potter shapes the clay appeals to me. But, the glory of it all is that the Lord treats us not as inanimate objects but as human beings made in the divine image, capable of thinking, choosing, loving. That the Lord treats us with utter respect is for me a profoundly attractive element of our faith.
 

A second element I have noticed in prayer these days is the community context in which the Lord speaks and in which we respond. Another way of saying that? The Lord is certainly with us in our prayer and can speak directly to our hearts. But, the Lord also is there for us in all of our human experience, speaking to us in and through life’s joys and perplexities, its hopes and dreams and sufferings.
 

And, while we may and should always speak to the Lord from our hearts, we need to live our words as the Lord did — in self-giving love.
 

We hear the Lord fully only in the context of community. It is in relationship to the community that we respond to him in a truly and fully human way.
 

A couple of questions for your prayer and thought:
 

How do you experience the Lord in your prayer?
 

How do others (spouse, family, fellow parishioners) help you to discover the Lord?
 

Peace to all.

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