Greetings fellow Network of Love Lovers,
It's a dreary, mopey Monday weather-wise. But I hope the Spirit fills you with good things today, with sunshine and hopes of pleasant journeys.
"As they prayed, the place where they were gathered SHOOK, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness" (Acts of the Apostles-ch. 4, verse 31).
I read this line this morning while reading the daily readings before our seminary community celebrated mass. It struck me...it hit me...it SHOOK me. It made me reflect on times in my life when I have been shook while gathered with people in prayer.
Recently, a member of my student prayer group here on Loyola's campus, shared an absolutely moving account of how she, only two years ago, had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. The diagnosis made her uncertain of her future on this earth–––but it made her all the more certain of her faith in God. She told our group that the tumor went away and that she has been tumor free for two years. Thank God! She said that that moment of her life, amidst a struggle that many of us cannot imagine enduring at the age of sixteen, she realized that she had a calling to fulfill. Her faith has led her to believe that she walks with Christ, every day of her life. Indeed, her story inspired both myself and the other member of the prayer group that night. I was shocked, taken aback, SHOOK by her story. It made that moment of prayer a window into the depths of not only my friend's soul, but the heart of faith–––our shared, communal faith.
A second moment that always SHOOK me when I was a kid (quite literally) was the organ at my home parish on special celebrations. Our organist Joe (he is still playing at our parish–––has been for something like 30 years–––is never shy when it comes to cranking out the sound on the organ. And I love that. Music has always been one of my passions–––so, as a little kid, I thought it was so radical and "cool" that music could be played loud and proud in church. Alleluia! Amen! Praise, praise, praise. The music SHOOK me.
And there are times in our life, moments of great sadness, that shake us. A close friend of mine just lost his father. While he seems to becoping with the loss much better than I feel that I could, I can only imagine the inner struggles he faces as he mourns the loss of someone who helped give him life. Hearing that, on Easter Sunday morning, his father had passed away in Kenya and that my friend would not be able to return for the funeral, all of that really SHOOK me. But hearing my friend's words about his father...that the man has discovered the "absolute healing" shook me with its beautiful boldness and total faith in God. Amen.
We gather together to pray, whether in church or at a table or at a special ceremony or event, because we crave that community that brings us closer to each other. In the Acts of the Apostles, we hear of a young community, with struggles, with joys, with hopes, with dreams and IN prayer. Living together in prayer, the place where they are becomes sacred. It is transformed by the Spirit of God. And each member of that community is "filled with the Holy Spirit" and is able to "speak the word of God with boldness."
peace and blessings~
your friend bob : )