Fall is almost here! You can feel it in the air and see it in the foliage. Home, school, and parish calendars have suddenly become much busier. This is a great time to recommit yourself to your relationship with Jesus. It’s a time to begin again.
I don’t think people really take vacations away from their faith life. It’s more like, as the seasons come and go, so does our interest and commitment level. And when I say “begin again” it’s not as if we are starting from scratch. Rather, we have the opportunity to choose, again, to attend to our relationship with God.
So how can you begin to connect with Christ this fall?
1. Pray each day. This should be something you do in addition to blessing your food. I suggest a morning prayer of some kind. Maybe a silent acknowledgment of God’s presence and love for you before you get out of bed. Starting the day with God can help you to be mindful of his love when little uncertainties or big frustrations arise during your day.
2. Make an offering of sacrifice. Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are the traditional ways Christians offer sacrifice. But don’t be afraid to think out of the box. Maybe forego that cup of coffee . . . or fourth cup! Or turn off the TV and engage in conversation with those around you before you go to work. In the spirit of Mother Theresa, it’s doing little things with great love that matters most.
3. Read a scripture verse or passage each day. The Bible can be an imposing book. It’s huge and filled with people, events and stories, from ancient times and foreign cultures. Don’t let this deter you. The Bible is also the Word of God, which speaks a timeless truth to all peoples. If you haven’t cracked your Bible in a while, I suggest starting with the Gospels. Though Matthew is first, you don’t have to start there, even if it is the “best” gospel, if I do say so myself. That the Evangelist and I share the same name in no way influences my opinion . . . okay, maybe just a little.
4. Come back to the Church. Our relationship with God is made possible through the minsitry and teaching of the Church. I invite you to reconnect with the Church by attending Mass, if you haven’t done so for some time. I also encourage you to take advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. God forgives us whenever we repent. However, this sacrament, in a special way, celebrates God’s forgiveness and love for us and opens us up to receiving his grace in a way we could not on our own. This leads me to my final point: To come back to the Church is also to reconnect with its members. Don’t be shy. Introduce yourself to those around you at Mass. Come to a parish event. Plug in! And if those around you don’t seem hospitable or welcoming, pray for them. They need your prayers. Returning, now, to the first item on this list: take time during morning prayer to pray specifically for these people.
We need to be a more open, caring church and you are just the person to help us!