Reflection on Perseverance
Tuesday of Holy Week
Mission Blog Day 2
This year, for Tuesday of Holy Week which is often characterized by light foot traffic, we instead headed indoors for prayer meeting with a number of Lumen brothers at something we call a “leadership circle.” Most of them have helped out on the missions over the years, so it seemed in some way like another mission night. There were 12 of us plus Fr. Daniel.
For our gospel reflection this night we chose the story of the persistent widow and the unjust judge—a story about perseverance in prayer. Pretty topical for a missionary adventure during Holy Week! Here are my note. Make sure you read the Epilogue….
“Perseverance in Faith”
“I’m going to fight until I can’t fight no more.” For guys, perseverance requires leaning into our masculine side, the fighter in us. Our stories during the icebreaker about times of perseverance were very moving to me, and I now have multiple images in my head of my brothers persevering through some of our darkest hours. A key common element was the quote Tony gave about fighting on. There is something about perseverance that really does seem to appeal to guys. The hunter-protector in us knows what to do in these situations, and “fighting on” almost comes naturally to us. In today’s culture, where masculinity and fatherhood are increasingly challenged, we need to resist the temptation to deny our masculinity. God wired us this way for a reason.
“With love, all things are possible. “ A unifying theme of the examples we gave was that in virtually all cases the element that gave us the inspiration to fight on was Love—the unselfish kind, agape. As I reflect on this, it does seem that to persevere through a very tough time, Love has to be there first and foremost at the center of it all. Without love, perseverance is probably not possible. So yes, we need to be fighters. And we also need to be lovers. Fighting without loving is not a recipe for long term success in the virtue of perseverance. And when we lose love, as in the example from Monday’s St. Patrick’s mission, the first thing we need to do is to persevere through that dark night until we get it back.
“Faith is a lifelong commitment and a daily struggle.” As Jesus points out in the parable of the widow and the unjust judge, to persevere in prayer requires a deep and abiding Faith that, in the end, God has our backs. When we give up on that, the daily struggle overwhelms and defeats us. So in many ways, Faith is as important a building block of Perseverance as Love. Shoring up our faith through the sacraments and daily reflection on all the wonders the Lord has shown us over the years is a good place to start when we’re trying to get better at perseverance.
“Persevering in Faith and Love.” Even as perseverance is driven by Faith and Love, we had many examples during the evening of where Love or Faith doesn’t always result in something positive in the instant. And then, our perseverance is really tested. Chris’s example of how he had to persevere in loving a homeless person who was not only not grateful but actually defiant and rude really hit home. True love is easy when we get loved right back; it’s a lot harder when we don’t. And that’s when perseverance really comes into play. The same can be said about Faith. Faith is easy when the Lord seems to answer our prayers instantly. But what when he doesn’t? Do we persevere, believing he will respond with what’s good for us when the time is right, even if he does so that in a way we didn’t ask for or at a time we didn’t think was right?
Resolution: We resolved to push the envelope of love, putting ourselves out for someone in an uncomfortable way, and persevering through it even if it became upsetting or embarrassing.
“God Winks at Me”
Less than 30 minutes after our group disbanded for the evening, something unusual happened with one of the new members of the group on their way home. This is the story….
Friends, thanks for inviting me and for a wonderful evening last night. It was truly enlightening and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting you. Chris, thanks for your hospitality and thanks for hosting at a such a lovely venue. And, thanks to all of you on this email for making me feel so welcomed and for all the personal insights you shared. It was truly a great evening.
Lastly, just an ending tidbit about last night that I must share. As my Mom would say, I experienced a God wink on my way home. I got the chills during the encounter.
Story: I shared a cab home last night with Steve and I dropped him off on 38th and 3rd. I then proceeded to tell the cab driver to just drop me off on 48th and 3rd, despite living on 48th btw 1st and 2nd. I felt like getting some fresh air and walking a couple blocks. As I paid the cab driver and stepped out of the cab, an elderly woman with her cart and small dog approached me from the shadows of the construction site on the corner. She asked me if I could assist her with a $15 donation, so her and her dog could stay at a shelter. I was totally taken off guard and was wondering where she came from. As Chris noted in his own city experiences, I usually have my head on swivel when I am walking at night. However, this woman definitely startled me and my gut reaction was to avoid. However, immediately, is if on que, I could hear Father Ray saying we needed to persevere and we all would be tested this Holy Week. I didn’t expect my test to come so soon! I introduced myself, gave her $20, and she told me her name was Valencia. We chatted for a bit and I soon realized I had seen her in the neighborhood before. I was so overwhelmed by the experience that all I could say was God Bless, be safe, and that it was my pleasure meeting her. She was more than grateful and said God Bless as well. As I walked away, I got the chills and immediately called Steve to share.
Wow! I wonder why I got out on 48th and 3rd versus in front of my building and now I know why. It was a God Wink as my Mom would say.
Thanks again to all of you for a lovely evening. It was a pleasure to meet everyone. God Bless and have an enlightening Holy Week!