This week’s #SundayStride and all those during the Advent season includes a pdf reflection. This week’s reflection is on the topic of Peace with questions, prayers, and an Examen to guide you through your week.
Sunday strides are written based on the lectionary readings of the day from the Catholic Lectionary. A stride is a “step in progress towards an aim” – for me, a Sunday stride is another movement towards the greater. You can find this Sunday’s readings here.
A few weeks ago a friend and former colleague invited me to give a talk to his RCIA group on Mary and the Saints. I was excited for the opportunity, and immediately said yes. Of course, the nerves set in when I started to figure out what it was I was actually going to say. I know about Mary and the Saints, but did I know enough to share that knowledge with others? So, I set about researching immediately. I watched a few videos from RCIA classes on Mary and the Saints online. I looked at what Bishop Robert Barron had to say (he literally seems to have a video for everything). I looked at what James Martin, S.J. wrote in his book My Life with the Saints and in his video series “Who cares about the saints?” And then, I spent some time away from researching to consider “What do I think is most important to relay to others about the Saints (and, of course, Mary who is a part of the wider communion of saints, afterall)?”
And I settled on starting my presentation with one line by Thomas Merton that I love and repeat to myself and others often…
“For me to be a saint means to be myself.”
I went on to outline a few more points I wanted to share regarding this very important line like the saints are ordinary people, that we are, in fact, also a part of the communion of saints, that the saints were about something (something that utilized their particular gifts and talents), and that the saints didn’t know they would one day be named saints (in other words, they needed other people to see the sanctity in them). I think sometimes we look to saints as these perfect people to emulate, but perhaps in doing that, we forget about their humanity. If we remember that they are human too… maybe we can see ourselves in their number.
In today’s second reading, St. Paul has this prayer for the Romans and for us: “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to think in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus, that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And in the first reading from Isaiah, there is the prophesy that opposites will come together – “Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; the calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them.”
When I read these readings I hear the distinct message that we are ALL necessary for peace to flourish, and that we can utilize the stories and wisdom of those who have come before us to start creating that peace right here on earth.
As we enter into the second week of Advent, the theme most often used is “peace.” I think one of the ways to move towards peace is to take the words of Thomas Merton seriously. “For me to be a saint means to be myself. Therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and of discovering my true self.” Once we know who we are as the person we were created to be, we can begin to truly “Prepare the way of the Lord!”