Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

In Charte Cathedral, 50 miles SW of Paris France there is a statue of Adam asleep and he’s resting his head on the lap of God the Father.  To look at it one is struck by an overwhelming sense of peace.  Adam is asleep; he has not a care in the world.  He’s asleep in the safest place in the whole universe and beyond.  To look at that scene one gets a sense of peacefulness, safety, prayerfulness, and above all a sense of quiet.  Adam’s asleep there is no noise or a worldly cacophony to awaken him.  To sit in the quiet presence of God is to sit in peace. 

Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, once wrote that silence and prayer are the strongest weapons against evil.  God works in silence and evil never has the last word.  In our first reading we heard of a strong and heavy wind, where rocks were crushed, then an earthquake, and then a fire, all the noises of the world.  But the Lord was not in any of them.  Not the wind, not the earthquake, not the fire.  Not in any of them.  The Lord was only heard in a tiny whispering sound.  A sound only heard in an atmosphere of silence. 

As we know the devil and his minions sow discord and hatred.  They make a lot of noise and racket.  They create a lot of societal wind, and quakes, and fire.  Just look at our news.   All of these things just to prevent us from resting in God, however, the devil will not be able to reach us in the stronghold of silence. 

I have a story from the life of St. Clare of Assisi; her feast day was on Friday the 11th. St. Clare found our Lord in Silence and she would not let go.   St. Clare was 18 when she first heard St. Francis speak.  He was giving a Lenten mission and what she heard set her heart on fire.   In secret she went toSt. Francis to ask his help so that she too could live the Holy Gospel like he did.  On Palm Sunday that year, in the middle of the night, St. Clare ran away from home.  St. Francis and his brothers met her at the door of the Chapel of Our Lady of Angels.  She was received into their community.  Her hair was cut short and she received a veil and a tunic of sackcloth which was tied about her with a cord.  Since she was the first woman to enter that community, they didn’t yet have proper housing.  So she was taken to a nearby Benedictine Convent. 

The next day when St. Clare’s family realized what had happened, they were not happy.  She was spoiling their plans for an advantageous arranged marriage.  And so they stormed the convent breaking down the front door.  Once inside, they searched for her and after a while they found her in the quiet darkened chapel.  She was kneeling in front of the altar praying, praying before the exposed Blessed Sacrament.  And so they went for her, to grab her, and to drag her out.  But St. Clare resisted, she grabbed onto the altar and would not let go.  With all her God-given strength she held on.  She held onto that privileged and sacred place where our Lord is made present.  She had found her Bridegroom and nothing would separate them.   Her family could not drag her away.  All the powers of the world, all the promises of the world could not drag her away.  All the noise and discord of the world couldn’t drive her or pull her away from our Lord.  It was a mystical moment.  Her family gave up and left.

Every Friday from 9:30 to 5:00 we have Eucharistic adoration in the Church, and every week from Sunday 2:00pm until Wednesday 8:00am we have adoration in the Parish Center Chapel (St. Cyril Chapel).  Time set aside for peace and silence in the presence of Jesus.   Come sit and pray in the stronghold of silence, away from all the winds, earthquakes, fires, and noises of the world.  Come listen for that still small voice, that tiny whispering sound.  If you fall asleep, that’s ok; there is no better place to sleep. Our Lord once said this to a mystic who was worried that he wasn’t spending enough time in Eucharistic adoration.  Our Lord said, “Give Me the little moment of adoration and of love and I will multiply it, making it possible for you to give me hours of adoration and of love, as they become available in your life.  Too many souls try to do too much, and end up doing nothing.  It is better to begin by doing what is very little, and by entrusting the little offering to Me, confident that I will receive it and turn it to My glory and to the glory of My Father.” 

Even if you can only spend a few minutes in adoration, come and pray, come and look upon our Lord in peace and silence, even if only for a few minutes.  St. Peter only begins to sink into the water when he takes his eyes off of Jesus.  He sinks when he begins to focus on the noise of the world, to focus on how strong the wind is.  But when looking on Jesus, who is peace personified, he walks on water.  Like St. Clare may we find our Lord in silent adoration, never letting go, never looking away.

Pax et Bonum,

Fr. Christopher J. Ankley