I was asked to help plan a retreat for this fall and was trying to figure out what would be helpful for someone in ministry to contemplate on a retreat amid all we are experiencing right now.
One of the first things that stood out in my mind was how much we need to be a compassionate presence to each other as we face the struggles of all the disruption happening due to the pandemic. The word presence led me to wonder what else would be helpful and I came up with focusing on the three P’s.
The three P’s are pause, presence and prayer. I think if we take some time out to look deeper at the power of recommitting ourselves to stop to pause to be present and be a compassionate presence to others and to deepen our habit of prayer we will be strengthened.
Terry Hershey is a popular speaker each year at Religious Education congress. He wrote a book titled The Power of Pause in which he challenges us to slow down, sit still and let our souls catch up with our bodies. He suggests we practice “sabbath moments” and find a place where we feel comfortable being still, praying, listening to God. It might be in the woods, on the beach, in our backyard garden or simply in our car. Whatever place we choose it should be a place where we can step away from all the noise and busyness and just PAUSE. I recently discovered a new sabbath space for me in my Saturday morning walks.
One of the components of comprehensive youth ministry is pastoral care. In the USCCB document Renewing the Vision the Bishops describe pastoral care as a compassionate presence in imitation of Jesus’ care of people, especially those who were hurting and in need. Now more than ever before we are all in need of receiving as well as being a compassionate presence. Pope Francis suggests ‘Try to learn to weep for all those young people less fortunate than yourselves. Weeping is also an expression of mercy and compassion. If tears do not come, ask the Lord to give you the grace to weep for the sufferings of others. Once you can weep, then you will be able to help others from the heart.’ –Christus Vivit 76. It is easier to show compassion to those we love and who love us. I challenge us to also be a compassionate presence to those who challenge us, to people we work with and to ourselves.
The third P is prayer. Martin Luther said, ‘To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.’ I love the image of our prayer life being our very breath. Pope Francis has beautiful inspiration for us on prayer ‘With a friend, we can speak and share our deepest secrets. With Jesus too, we can always have a conversation. Prayer is both a challenge and an adventure. And what an adventure it is! Gradually Jesus makes us appreciate his grandeur and draw nearer to him. Prayer enables us to share with him every aspect of our lives and to rest confidently in his embrace. At the same time, it gives us a share in his own life and love. When we pray, “we open everything we do” to him, and we give him room “so that he can act, enter and claim victory”. –Christus Vivit, 155.
Here are some key points I am trying to focus on to weave the three P’s into my life right now:
- Make them a habit- “Our lives change when our habits change” –Matthew Kelly
- Turn negatives into positives
- Treasure moments- no matter how big or small
- Enjoy carefree timelessness
- Start feeling grateful now
What would you add to this list?