Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Day of Recollection

Today was a Day of Recollection for me. Every year I make an annual retreat of five days and each month I try to get away from the parish in order to spend a few hours with other priests on a sort of mini-retreat. It is a monthly time of more intense prayer and examination and can be a real oasis when you're in a busy parish. Not just for priests of course. We organise monthly Evenings of Recollection in the parish for our lay people as well.
Today one of the themes of the meditation was 'temperance' - one of the four cardinal virtues. The preacher quoted a point from a book of spiritual considerations called The Way, by St Josemaria Escriva:

I see you, Christian gentleman - that is what you say you are - kissing an image, mumbling a vocal prayer, crying out against those who attack the Church of God..., and even frequenting the holy Sacraments.
But I don't see you making any sacrifice, or avoiding certain conversations of a 'worldly' nature (I could with justice use another term), or being generous towards those in need or towards that Church of Christ, or putting up with a failing in one of your brothers, or checking your pride for the sake of the common good, or getting rid of your tight cloak of selfishness, or ... so many things more!
I see you... I don't see you...
And yet you say you are a Christian gentleman? What a poor idea you have of Christ!

It is good for us to examine our conscience often. Not all zeal is what it seems. Sometimes the multiplication of devotions can replace the spirit of true devotion. The recitation of prayers leaves no time for prayer: conversation with God. Sometimes we may believe ourselves to be passionate for the Truth but we allow our passion to drown the virtue of charity. Sometimes we can be hot on telling others how to behave but lukewarm when it comes to reforming our own behaviour.

St Paul uses the expression veritatem facientes in caritate - doing the truth in charity. The Gospel must challenge us. If we are truly zealous for Christ we will seek him in prayer. We will contemplate his face in the mysteries of the Rosary. We will keep a check on what we say and do. We will seek his pardon and peace in Confession.

Of course, a priest is not someone who allows "charity to do the truth in". But he is someone who has learnt to put God's love into everything he does.

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