Two days ago I had my monthly meeting with my spiritual director: a fellow-priest who is a very prayerful man and who is grounded in his parish ministry. Anyway, this session lasted twice as long as usual because I was expressing to him some of my spiritual struggles of late. As I shared many of the small, simple images which were contributing to the larger struggle, he listened gently and reflected his very keen understanding. Yet, along with this understanding came some very powerful guidance and insight! Yes, with the help of saintly images and delicate theological points, he and I were able to come to new depths of my appreciation for priestly ministry in our parish. It was quite beautiful, really.
As much as I’m grateful for this priest’s insight and direction, I must admit that it is clearly God’s work that really makes the difference in these spiritual struggles. Sure, I was the one seeking to wrestle with my dryness, and I was the one hoping for consolation in my personal prayer, but it was God’s Holy Spirit who then allowed me to see Him anew. God is the one who continues always to invite me into deeper faith in—and rest with—Him.
Recall Samuel in our first reading: he is disposed to hearing the Lord’s voice in his sleep, but it takes another—Eli—to direct him to listen and respond. Thus Samuel is schooled to move toward the reward of knowing God. And what of Andrew in our gospel? Or Simon? Both of these grow into apostles first from their openness and seeking, then through their dialogue with another (Andrew with John, and then Jesus; Simon with Andrew and, of course, then with Jesus as well).
It would seem to me that as we enter into the ordinary times of the Church year, we might consider how we are disposed to God’s whisper, His promptings, His invitation. We might, too, consider how we enter into a dialogue of faith with God and others. Clearly, our disposition and our dialogue can be paths toward the greatest of rewards: the gift of faith…the gift of God’s own self.