Monday, February 8, 2010

A Glimpse

The veil between this world and the next is so very thin at times. I've had mystical experiences where I lack the words to explain them. I've felt His Presence with me walking along the railroad tracks at Vision of Peace, in quiet moments with nature, in the Adoration chapel, and at times with my family.

That I believe in God, and more specifically, that I believe God actively seeks to be in relationship with us is a given.

Lately, I've been the one not actively seeking the relationship. Oh, I still pray my hours, attend mass, say 'grace' before meals, and end my day with a short prayer. But I had intentionally stopped listening. I'd stopped making time for the quiet, to check in with the Lord and see what He might want. Instead, I filled my prayer time with lists of things I wanted.

I stopped having a relationship, and started just jabbering at Him.

It took a few weeks of this before I realized that I was doing this, that I was avoiding the quiet time with God. Last Monday morning, as I sat in the chapel for a few minutes, soaking up the silence between Morning Prayer with the guys and the start of mass, I knew what I'd been missing from my life. I felt the loss, a stab in my heart, and promised to get back on track immediately.

That afternoon, I did spend some quiet time with God. I asked for his guidance. I had an appointment with Father that night for Spiritual Direction and confession. Where was I most needing Him? Then, I sat quietly and waited. After a time, I opened my Christian Prayer book and began to pray Evening Prayer. About halfway through, I stopped, suddenly seeing an area of brokenness previously unnoticed by me. I picked up my notebook and made a series of notes for discussion and confession. I finished my prayer, and returned to my afternoon's activities.

Later that night, I sat in Father's office. We spent 55 minutes talking about a variety of things going on in my personal and spiritual life. Then, we paused for a minute or two of prayer before starting my confession.

This confession was unlike any confession I have ever experienced.

I am comfortable with Father in this Sacrament. We've celebrated it together more than three dozen times. There is a rhythm to our Sacramental interactions. That rhythm was broken on Monday night. The veil was lifted. I know that those next few moments, I was in the presence of Christ Himself, not my friend and trusted director, Father.

Now, let me be clear. I believe that, during the Sacrament, the priest always sits in persona Christi. I believe that when Father absolves me from my sins, he is doing so in the name of Christ. However, this is the first time I've felt the presence of Christ in that space.

Over the next few minutes, I got a glimpse of the incredible love and mercy that is Jesus Christ. I was filled with an overwhelming sensation of being deeply loved and cherished. There was no condemnation, no anger, just gentleness and love.

I've been deeply moved by this experience. It was, in the truest sense, a conversion experience. In the past week, I have made prayer a top priority. I am setting aside my agenda to spend time in quiet with the Lord. In response, I've noticed that the overwhelming sensation of love has continued to envelope me.

There is something wonderfully self-perpetuating about this. The more time I spend in prayer, the more I feel drawn to pray throughout my day. The more I pray throughout my day, the more connected I feel to God. The more connected I feel to God, the more grateful I am for the gift of this glimpse into all of the Goodness and Love that is He, the Creator of All.

And that gratitude sends me right back into my Father's arms in prayer.

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