To be understood as to understand... Prayer of St. Francis

Today's post comes from Patty Stewart. Here's her bio in her own words: "I am blessed to be part of the Newman Center, Catholic Community at UCSD staff; I have been part of the staff since November 2004. Time flies when you’re having fun! It seems like I stopped in for daily Mass at 12:10 just “yesterday”. I continue to manage day to day operations, serve as Advisor for the Faith Formation committee, direct the Christian Initiation process with a community team, and share leadership with other staff on the Building Tomorrow endeavors, Pastoral Council and the Liturgy committee. Occasionally I have to stop and see what “hat” I am wearing at any given moment.

My life experiences happily include 38 years of marriage (whoo hoo!), 3 remarkable adult children, and 3 delightful grandsons. For 30+ years I have worked in 6 parishes or Catholic schools in Faith Formation and liturgical ministries up and down the Pacific Coast (from Seattle to San Diego). My formal education includes a BA in Economics and an MA in Theology.

I believe that our lives unfold in ways which allow us to continually grow in love and service to one another as we strive to live out Gospel values. I look forward to the upcoming year with the new associate and new opportunities for our community to go deeper…still. At the end of each day, our faith is not about what we do, but about what God does in and through us."

O Divine Master, grant that we may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console
To be understood as to understand;
We come helpless into this world seeking to be understood….the first sound we utter is a cry of drawing in air bewildered by a new environment.  We beg to be understood when we need food, comfort, or sleep. As we grow our cries change to words and actions: “Mom, I’m hungry!”; hitting our brother or sister when angry; hugs of happiness and tears of frustration, hurt, sadness…still seeking to be understood.
In the petty moments of the day, I still seek to be understood.  But upon deep reflection and prayer I realize that the gifted moments of my life are when I seek to understand. Yesterday afternoon held many examples, mostly which I had missed until my journaling time this morning.
I had an event on my list of “to-do” things for the day: Feeding the Homeless, cleverly dubbed God’s BBQ. I was committed to attend and be present but I also wanted to begin a project at home. I made a choice NOT to do both. I was a tad anxious about finding the exact location in Mission Bay as I get lost easily, even with smartphone technology. I did indeed locate the event and as luck would have it I was a needed body to serve food. Serving, doing, is easier for me than meeting and greeting.  Soon students came to help and it was important for me to allow them to serve.  No problem … until I realized I’d need to put myself into welcoming mode. I drew in the breath of God and made my way down the line of those waiting for a meal. I began with small talk and a welcome.  What was difficult for me became gift: short conversations with people waiting to be fed. They too were seeking a comfort zone to converse. 

It is not about me; nor do I wish that it were. It is about sharing God’s love, Christ’s command to Love One Another.  To love another means to want the best for that person and to be a part of that growth, however briefly. To love another calls for understanding. How does it feel to have to stand in line for a meal? What is the impact on one’s life if they do not have a home? Or enough to eat each day?  So many aspects to assimilate. But actions can speak volumes! 
I sincerely hope that at this stage of my life I have learned that all those I encounter are Christ.        “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;  naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’  Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?  And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?  When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ Matt 25:34-40
The day’s gifts did not end at the park. They continued as I answered emails, wished friends a happy birthday, went to the grocery store and picked up the mail. Moments to wish others blessings, to look into the eyes of those we encounter and see their goodness. Life is full of opportunities to do so.  Had I chose to re-line the pantry with new liner I would have missed so much life, goodness, love. 
O Divine Creator, Maker of all life, grant that, knowing you have always heard my cries, pleas to be understood, is more than enough for me and that in turn I may be your eyes, your ears, your presence to those I encounter daily.  Thy will be done.

(To read other posts in the Prayer of St. Francis series, click here.)


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