In today’s Gospel Jesus reminds his disciples, ‘without me you can do nothing.’
After 25 years of working within the Church Institutional, I have found one astounding fact to be consistently true — those in the Church’s employ very often tell me that as the years go on in their work for the Church they find that their spiritual lives don’t flourish, but atrophy.
Two common threads usually emerge as I dig deeper into my professionally-religious-colleagues – (1) familiarity with holy-things breeds contempt, and (2) as they come to know-well the human foibles of ecclesial personnel, mystery seems to be demystified. I will not expand on these for the sake of blog brevity, but let me simply suggest what I have found to be the key ‘difference’ among those who have not allowed their professionalized faith to become demystified: unrelenting prayer.
It is no doubt one of the Tempter’s most subtle and successful strategies to convince those who work nearest the center of the Fire in the heart of the Church that because they ‘do churchy stuff’ they don’t need to/have time to pray. And while they may sputter a few vague phrases about work being their prayer, or that they pray when they can in the midst of their godly busyness, they often admit that their spiritual lives have suffered and their prayer weakened. No time for silence, no room for time dedicated to God alone.
Those church-pros who number among the relentless pray-ers cling to the Rock, Christ Crucified-Risen, and are able see, even in the midst of the thousand bleeding wounds in Christ’s Church, the hope-light-life-mercy of the resurrection already dawning. These cling to the Vine, imbibing a lifetime supply of fresh nourishing Sap, and know that when they cease to cling they quickly dry up and burn out. These also know that it is Christ-alone who is the unending source of mystic-thrill in the midst of a mundane Church and lackluster world.
In 1995 my grandfather once told Patti and me that the secret to his 70+ year long passionate marriage was, ‘Don’t lose the mystery of that first moment your eyes met.’
Jesus said something similar in Revelation 2:4, ‘Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your early love.’
So, my fellow Ecclesial Laborers, fall in love again with Christ, remain in love with him and it will decide everything.