Be Prepared

Discussion in 'The Signs of the Times' started by darrell, Dec 6, 2007.

  1. darrell

    darrell New Member

    “Be prepared” is the Boy Scout motto, but this past week these words have taken on a whole new meaning for me.

    I went on a much needed retreat this past weekend, and it was wonderful, a very powerful experience. There’s a lot of turmoil in the world right now with ongoing armed conflicts in various regions of the world and the ever-present threat of global terrorism. Here in the United States of America, we are fast approaching an election year, and there’s a lot of concern about who will take the reigns of the executive chair and which direction they will attempt to steer our country, and where this will take us. Will we cling tenuously to the ideals of our founding fathers? Or will we go the way of the European Union and reject our Christian heritage?

    There seems to be a lot of turmoil and conflict in our personal lives as well. One incident left my heart troubled and wondering how to respond (or even if I should).

    So when I met up with my friend Pat last Friday afternoon, I told her, “I really need this retreat.” As we were getting ready to leave, rain started to fall, the first significant rain in many, many months here in the Arizona desert, a real drencher, and it seemed to me that this first major storm of the season was a reflection of a very real spiritual storm in the world. Pat and I left the valley and drove through the rain up the mountain to the Shrine of St. Joseph.

    Upon arriving in Yarnel, we were surprised to find that the little barbecue restaurant where it had become tradition for us to have dinner had gone out of business. Another reminder that everything in this earthly life comes to an end…

    This retreat was basically a gathering of a core group of friends, old and new, who have worked in a couple of ministries together. We talked and we shared, laughed and cried, and we prayed. Friday night, as the storm raged outside, we each of us shared what was going on in our lives. Some have been struggling with various trials, such as grief or adjusting to being newly single; others were worried about the economy, the real estate market or their jobs; some have been away from ministry for a while working on personal goals, and a couple of individuals shared how they didn’t like their own recent behavior or the people they were becoming. And a few of us related how we were in a really good place at the moment; our lives were hardly perfect—there were still trials, struggles and even turmoil, but that was OK: we had our faith. Even if we were to lose everything tomorrow… So what? God is in His Heaven, and He loves us and forgives us our sins if we truly repent in our hearts. And He prepares a place for us.

    When we arose on Saturday morning, the storm had passed; but a dense fog hung in the air, and we could not see the mountain top. Pat told us the Native American tale of Two Wolves:

    A Cherokee was talking with his grandson. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy. "It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One wolf is evil and ugly: he is anger, envy, war, greed, self-pity, sorrow, regret, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, selfishness and arrogance. The other wolf is beautiful and good: he is friendly, joyful, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, justice, fairness, empathy, generosity, true, compassion, gratitude, and faith. This same fight is going on inside you and inside every other person as well."
    The grandson paused in deep reflection, and then asked, "Which wolf will win?"
    The grandfather replied, "The one you feed."

    Pat also read from the transcript of a presentation on the fruits of the Spirit of the Father, given by The Preacher to the Pope, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa:

    The second fruit of this year of the spirit of the Father should be to accept each other as brothers and sisters; to reconcile between us; to accept us as brothers and sisters. There is one thing you should never do with a father or a mother and this is to ask from them to make a choice—to side with one son against the other; this you cannot ask from a father. Do you? It’s a cruel choice. You can’t say I thought you were with me or with my brother. We won’t stay together. This is terrible—terrible. And this is what we very often say maybe implicitly to God the Father to make a choice, to side with somebody—either me or my brothers. We must reconcile, accept each other, especially those we would rather keep away from our life. We could make no better offer than to reconcile with somebody, with whom we have a bad relation. And right now we can decide to reconcile. This reconciliation must take place within the family between husband and wife, parents and children. It must take place in the community…

    We went together to the vigil Mass for the First Sunday of Advent, the season of joyous expectation, a season of preparation. In the Gospel reading, Jesus tells us we must “be prepared”. The priest spoke of death and the “Three Grants”: Grant that we do not die in mortal sin; grant that we are able to fulfill our mission in life; and grant that our death is not too much of a burden on others. This spoke very powerfully to me. Only a few years ago, I was in such grief that I didn’t ever think I would find joy again. But God filled the hole in my heart. He gave to my family a beautiful daughter, and He’s brought so many wonderful people into my life, fellow disciples. I am ready to go to eternity whenever God calls me, but now I have a sense that I have a mission to fulfill. God grant that I am able to fulfill it. We all can know this: if we are still here on this earth, God has work for us to do. We each of us can ask ourselves, “What is my mission in this life? What gifts has He given me? How can I use my gifts to serve God?” God is so good and generous, and He has given me gifts that I love.

    I think by the end of the retreat, we all of us agreed that we need to be answering our call to evangelize, to be actively working in ministry. I believe we all realized that if we’re not continuing to pursue our mission in this life, it’s very easy to begin falling away.

    On Sunday morning, we arose to clear skies and sunshine. For our final exercise, we each of us went off alone to sit and listen for what God had to say to us individually. I found a rock on top of a hill, and I sat and listened. The air was perfectly still, and I listened to the silence. From over the hill, an eagle or large hawk soared across the sky, and he never once flapped his wings. Then I felt Jesus speak to my heart:

    I want you to think of all the gifts I have given you—the graces, the wonders I have shown you, all the fellow apostles I have brought into your life, this great communion of saints you are part of. I want you to reflect on all these things and store them up in your heart. And whenever you may become weary or the road may seem too difficult, you will remember all these things, and you will know that I am with you. You will remember where you have been, and where I have brought you, and you can trust that My grace will be sufficient for you.

    ● ● ●

    I won’t be posting too much for a while (not because I’m leaving, but because I have several uncompleted projects that I need to focus on). I’ll follow up with this post for a few days, and of course I will continue to respond to PMs. Also, I may contribute to one or two selected threads, but for the most part I won’t be posting very much. My plan is to pick up with the “On the Most Holy Rosary” thread for Lent, and for anyone who wishes to join me, we can pray and meditate on the Sorrowful Mysteries.

  2. Mario

    Mario Powers

    So glad for the fruits of your retreat.


    You spoke of dense fog obliterating a view of the mountaintop. It calls to mind the occasion when my family and I vacationed in Washington midst the Douglas firs and Mount Ranier. Enveloped in its own weather-making fog, we were unable to enjoy viewing the summit. Just when we had given up and were about to head down from the 5,000 ft. level, the skies cleared for a few minutes. It was truly a peak experience :wink: ! God is always guiding us, protecting us, and forming us to be servants. He is so gracious to provide moments when the veil is rent and he speaks to our heart. May your heart always be ready to respond with a generous yes!

    In the Hearts of Jesus and Mary!
  3. padraig

    padraig Powers

    Hi Darrell,

    I know you are downsizing your internet time, but I hope you get to read this anyway. I was touched by your message on several levels . Firstly in that although you lead a very busy life , with a young family and a demanding job you find time to go away and be with the Lord. Not only this but you think of your Apostolate and are so very open to the voice, the urgings of the Holy Spirit.
    I don't often praise people, as I think a lot of salt and little sugar is the way to go, but your message cheered me up so I can't help posting this. It is for you, rather than myself to decide where God wants you but I hope you always remember your writing is important too. It can be lonely and discouraging at times, but I have found it a wonderfully rewarding apostolate and one that in return has brought me so many rich graces. Not the least of which has been to meet so many great Christians , including yourself.
  4. Mario

    Mario Powers

    Great picture!


    I went to your blog and saw the picture of all your retreatant friends. What a blessing! I sat there speculating on which one was Pat, realized I'd scratch all my hair off the top of my head before figuring that one out, and so went on with life. I thought how much I'd miss your prudent input and humor, but then I remember that Lent comes very early this year. See you later!

    In the Hearts of Jesus and Mary!

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