Well, as you can see below I've posted several pictures. My dad likes the fact that I write captions for each of them...he seems to be more interested in the way that the picture is seen than in the picture itself. One could reasonably engage in a deep philosophical debate concerning the viewer's hermeneutical vantage point and whether the caption influences unduly the viewer's perception of the picture or whether it enhances the viewing experience. But that would be kind of boring, so we'll skip that discussion for now.
As the pictures show, the Detroit Marathon was held this past weekend. Eric Sundrup and Drew Marquard participated in it and managed to run 26.2 miles. It took them ~about~ 3 hours and 45 minutes to do so. I marvel at the fact that in the time it takes them to RUN 26.2 miles, I could have left Detroit, stopped at a Thruway Panera's for a leisurely lunch (stressing here leisurely) and I'd still make it home to Cleveland before they finished. Needless to say, I am very proud of their accomplishment and I count it as the highlight of my weekend that I managed to make my way into Downtown Detroit to support them as they ran.
Due to a number of recent experiences, I've begun to question in a critical way the approach people take to religious life. My litmus test for whether or not someone should be a priest is and has been this: If this person were hearing confession, could I send my friend Anne, my mother, my grandmother, or my brother to him? Would I go to him? I figure that this represents a pretty wide spectrum of personality types and, if I couldn't see this man as being in any way pastorally sensitive to the needs of one of these persons, I can't say that he'd have my endorsement to be a priest.
This is not meant to be exclusive - with modification, one could apply it to any type of position either within or without the church. Yet it points toward the affective dimension of religious life, that persons who "answer the call" are called to be of service to others, to be agents of mercy who accompany others in their times of need. Thus, if one can't relate to or empathize with a person who is struggling, I question their motivation for wanting to be a priest. Our role is less to "give" people the answers and more to empower others to find within themselves the resources by which they might come to know God better.
So, when I pray I don't do it idly or with my own self in mind. As I come to know God better and more deeply, that reflection (ideally) informs my actions and thoughts that I might share my experiences with others. Such sharing is not intended to set objective criteria of spiritual development by which others are to judge their progress. Instead (and again ideally), my reflections/ministry should help to uncover for others their own spiritual resources that will lead them deeper into prayer and service.
This is key: genuine prayer is generative, it is life-giving. Julian of Norwich, the 14th century mystic, writes in her Showings
"In all this I was greatly moved in love towards my fellow Christians, that they might all see and know the same as I saw, for I wished it to be a comfort to them, for all this vision was shown for all persons."
Julian's tremendous experience of God's grace led her to write out and reflect upon them for many years. But the purpose behind these revelations was to lead others in such a way that they might be "moved in love towards...fellow Christians." They weren't authority granting, nor did they set Julian apart from others. They served, rather, to draw her into loving solidarity with her fellow Christians.
Pretty nifty, huh? I should hope that the woman who gave me the finger while driving last night (driving 75mph on the highway wasn't fast enough for her) who had hanging from her rear view mirror a set of rosary beads will read Julian and spend more time with BOTH hands on the wheel.
Of worthy note: please remember that this Saturday is the Bob Scullin & Friends concert at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral @ 7:30 pm. I'll be playing at the intermission (with Jim Boynton and Bob Scullin) as well as on three songs during the second-half of the performance. All proceeds from the concert with benefit the Jesuit Refugee Service, so if you're around this weekend, please stop by. Admission is free (though a free-will offering is requested).
On a health note, I've not been feeling very well. In the past six months I've spent about eight weeks on antibiotics and, sadly, there has been little progress. So I'm seeing a specialist on Friday with the hopes that we can pin down the cause of my problem. So if you'll keep me in your prayers, I'd be most appreciative.
Oh! One last thing: I received an advance copy of the story that will be printed for the paper in Kansas City. I'll post it here after November 5th (that's its release date). It's a pretty long piece and makes me sound pretty good, so I'll be happy to share that with you. The paper is also including a link to this site, so it'll be fun to see who comes to visit thanks to the story.