Vacation prayer, reflection a blessing - Catholic Courier
Matthew H. Clark Matthew H. Clark

Vacation prayer, reflection a blessing

I am happy to be in touch with you once again through this post-vacation “Along the Way.” While I certainly enjoy the rest and relaxation that I experience during vacation days, it is always a pleasure to return to life in the diocese and to the work of ministry.

The first thing I want to do is to express gratitude to all of my coworkers whose generosity and ability allow me to enjoy vacation with full confidence that the life of the diocese will be well cared for. Our understanding when I leave is that they are free to call me whenever they might like but never need to if they are confident in their decisions.

I also want to express thanks to all of you who so kindly sent me prayers and good wishes on two recent occasions of importance in my life — the 30th anniversary of my ordination as a bishop and my 72nd birthday. Please believe me when I say your kindness on those occasions means the whole world to me.

As you might expect, my vacation became a natural time to remember the 30 years in which I have been privileged to be your bishop. It’s not as though I made a conscious, systematic effort to generate memories of the years. It was a much kinder awareness that brought with it memories of events and experiences — the happy and the not so happy — that have occurred during my time here. All claimed my attention in peaceful ways. All led me to prayer.

I consider such moments as blessings. The happy memories renew the pleasures, the strength, the joy and encouragement of favors once experienced, and turn my heart to God in a spirit of gratitude for such faithful love. Recollection of less pleasant moments — of failure and confusion — often brings insights and understanding of which I was incapable in the tension of the moment. This, too, makes me grateful for God’s infinite patience and unfathomable compassion.

That vacation experience of prayer and reflection finds me returning to ordinary life with a renewed conviction that God’s faithful love is present to us in all of the circumstances of our lives. Nothing human is outside God’s concern. At every moment — even when we feel totally lost — God knows our hearts better than we ever will and sustains us with divine love.

These days apart also elicited anew an awareness that from our first moment of life to our last, God is continually calling us to new life. Often this happens in prayer, sometimes in flashes of insight for which we have no ready explanation. But most often we discover that leading as we reflect prayerfully on our broad range of life’s experiences.

How is God speaking to me in this moment of special joy? And, how does the Lord want me to respond to this? Can there possibly be any good or new life to be drawn from this loss, this pain? As I think about the flow of my life, can I identify the kinds of choices and decisions that seem always to bring me to peace and a sense of freedom? Are there others that seem very attractive at first but which over time leave me sad or discontent?

To take time often to pray and reflect about such questions is a healthy and life-giving spiritual exercise. In the peace and leisure of vacation, the Lord’s kind favor called me to enjoy the gift of doing that. It will probably not flow so easily in the days to come, but it will be no less important for me to keep at it. Please pray that I will.

You have my prayers for your daily openness to the Lord’s ways in your life.

Peace to all.

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