I ask for you to join the pastoral staff at St. Joseph University Church in prayer today as we begin our pastoral planning time. It's our time to discern how we serve the needs of our parish community and the students of the University of Buffalo's South Campus.
And so we ask you to pray with us:
Water is indeed a symbol that is full of richness for us. It is something that we cannot live without. It can refresh us on a hot summer day. It helps us cook food, wash ourselves and there’s nothing quite like boating or swimming on the water.
But water can also bring up scary images as well. Like drowning or floods, or being in over our heads. The disciples knew of water’s power when they were tossed on the waves before Jesus calmed them and when Peter began to sink because of his lack of faith. The waters of Katrina and of the Indian Tsunami reminded us all too well of water’s destructive power.
For me, however, water has always been a particular symbol that reminds me of God working in my life.
Because when I am moved by the spirit, I cry.
Tears flow easily when I pray. I can't explain it and I no longer am embarrassed by them. The tears are signs of the spirit and that God and I are intimately connecting, most of the time through others but sometimes in quiet and stillness too. This is something that Ignatius was in touch with as well. He called it the gift of tears and in fact, he said we should pray to be so moved in prayer--to receive such a gift.
Often I would say that if this is God’s idea of a gift.. I'd like to give it back. But now I know better...because these tears are indeed a sign that the spirit is indeed alive and they remind me of God’s intimate connection with each one of us.
All truly great prayer - rises from deep inside and springs spontaneously to the surface. It would then seem - that from among the many beautiful prayers,
the scared songs and canticles of praise, my tears my be the best worship of all. And you should know that from the moment I stepped into this church, my tears have not ceased. The spirit is indeed alive here and is moving us to discern that spirit today.
It is water the first sign of our sacramental life in the church. God chooses to initiate us into the church through the saving waters of baptism...and perhaps that when we are so moved (some of us more often than others) it is God’s way of reminding us of our need to minister to one another--that like our Godparents we are all indeed responsible for one another.
So as we begin our time together, we remind oursleves that we are Christians, we remind oursleves that God loves us and that even when we are overwhelmed and feel like we are drowning or when things have gotten dry--God indeed can calm those waves and bring us to a new and refreshing ways of life.
So let us begin our time together by calling God’s blessing down upon this water, and then let us bless one another with a sign of our faith.