Sorry that this post is a little later than usual. It’s been a crazy week, a crazier weekend, and honestly, writer’s block has been hitting harder than usual over the last few weeks.
But I think it’s providential that this post is late. Today’s Gospel is about the evening of our lives, and it’s not an easy one. I mean, can you imagine if the K-Love Bible Verse of the Day1 was, “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?”
It’s a sobering verse, but one that will be spoken to each one of us at some point. Yet, for our God of eucatastrophe and infinite mercy, even this verse invites us to hope.
We can be fools before God, indulging in material goods, making excuses for unnecessary expenditures2, preferring American consumerism to Gospel joy. Or we can be fools for God, clinging to the “one thing” possessed by Mary of Bethany. We can join John of the Cross, singing of the contradictory joy of nada, nothing but the Lord and His Kingdom. We can appear before God at the close of our lives, still utterly impoverished, yet trusting that our Father delights in our desire to please Him and love Him. If we truly understand that we have nothing, then when God demands our life of us, we can open gloriously empty hands, whispering, “Everything I have received is from you. Everything was spent for you.”
Every breath you are given is an opportunity to prepare for that terrifying, beautiful moment when you and God are unveiled before one another. But how do we prepare for our apokalypsis? How do we grow in self-awareness so that we are prepared when God demands an accounting of our lives and gifts?
Today is the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. I could rant about St. Ignatius and the Jesuit Saints for even longer than I could rant about the other Jesuits, which I think is saying something. But a key gift that Ignatius offers to the Church is the Examen, a period of prayer in which you review the Holy Spirit’s presence throughout your day and the way you responded to or rejected His gifts. As we close the month of July and the Lord demands these last 31 days, I want to invite you to join me in an Examen of July. This isn’t a cookie cutter Ignatian Examen by any stretch. But it is nevertheless an opportunity for intimacy with the God who has brought you through the last month, who has seen every tear and rejoiced in every laugh. Let’s give Him glory for all He has done in July.
I want to invite you to enter into a time of prayer. Find a quiet, or semi-quiet spot where you won’t fall asleep. Grab a cup of tea (or coffee, I don’t judge).3 If you like to journal, this is a perfect opportunity, though total silence is beautiful too. Have a blessed evening, and I’ll leave you alone now with the Father.
Come, Holy Spirit, Soul of my soul. Come through Mary, model of receptivity.
Jesus, in July, what were the three greatest joys you gave me?
How did those joys affect my relationship with you? With others? In knowledge of myself? How can I be a steward of these joys in August?
Jesus, in July, what were three Crosses you called me to bear?
How did those Crosses affect my relationship with you? With others? In knowledge of myself? How can I be more faithful to the Cross in August?
Father, what was a consistent sin I struggled with over July? Do I need to go to Confession?
My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength. What is our battle plan for combatting this particular sin in August?
Jesus, how were you calling me to deeper intimacy with you through the liturgy? Was there a particular Feast day or devotion I embraced? Do I need to grow in awareness of the Church’s liturgical year?
Holy Spirit, how has my prayer life been in July? How are you inviting me to pray in August?
Take Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess. You have given all to me. To you, O lord, I return it. All is yours, dispose of it wholly according to your will. Give me your love and your grace, for this is sufficient for me. – St. Ignatius of Loyola
1 – Or whatever your local Christian radio station calls itself
2 – Yes, Larisa, this includes what you have favorited on Etsy
3 – Maybe wait on the bourbon though