Witnessing the Transfiguration of Jesus as described in today’s Gospel of Mark was probably the most intimate personal experience Peter, James, and John would ever share with Him. For the first time, they caught a powerful glimpse into the Mystery of Jesus’ humanity and divinity, and His oneness with God. They had access to the Mystery of God in their lives in perhaps the most direct way a follower of Jesus could ever expect. Jesus shared this intimate knowledge of His nature with them so they might come to understand this Mystery was actually meant for them.
In this Lent season, our community has been invited to consider the ways each of us can access this Mystery of God in our own lives. God gave each of us the gift of prayer as a means of accessing His presence. The beauty and wonder of prayer for me is that it can be practiced at any time, in any place, and under any circumstances. Prayer can never be practiced too often without exception, I become more aware of my connection to God, others, and myself. Humans need air to sustain their physical life, but prayer to sustain their spiritual lives. One of the purest forms of prayer is to simply ask for God’s will to be fulfilled in everything. Finally, prayer is practiced is both thought and in action.
I am blessed to be a member of such an inspiring group of faith practitioners in the Old St. Pat’s community. Before arriving at Old St. Pat’s, my faith was fragile and I yearned to find a place where I would be challenged and nurtured in my faith life, but I could find no purpose or meaning in any of my experiences. I had dealt with loss and hurt as all of us do in life. I committed to experimenting with my faith by participating in a host of prayerful opportunities, including the Beloved Retreat, Ministry of Prayer, Eucharistic Ministry, and Spiritual Direction. Through the sharing and generosity of spirit freely given to me by this faith community, I came to know on a more intimate level a God of love and mercy. I began to access a mystery that had eluded me for most of my life.
My prayer and faith journey has not been traversed along a straight path. I’ve been tempted to sit idly with some newly found peace or grace experience as if I had reached a final destination. I’ve surrendered at times to the temptation to settle for what I believe is good enough for God as I define it. Invariably, God invites me back into this Mystery by stirring changes that I would prefer to resist. A friend who has recently experienced great loss in his life suggested to me God does not cause our losses, but He does expect us to endure our losses so we can become the person He knows we are capable of becoming. It is only through persistent prayer – and lots of patience – that I have been able to accept the changes that have occurred in my life. Prayer has become the gateway to discovering and accepting the Mystery of God in my life. When I choose to move toward this Mystery and not away from it, I learn the Mystery of God can be boundless and freeing.
My hope in praying this Lent is to build a greater capacity for intimacy – with God, with others, and with myself. It will perhaps give me the kind of glimpse that Peter, James, and John received on the mountain with Jesus. To each of you, and especially to those among you who have helped me discover the Mystery of God in my life (you know who you are!), may Lent lead you to know yourselves and God more intimately as we journey together towards Easter.
Jim Whealan has been a member of Old St. Patrick’s Church for 15 years, and is currently persuing a Masters Degree in Justic Ministry at the Catholic Theological Union.