I don’t know about you but I prefer things to be familiar and the same, and for things to happen on a regular basis. This regular way of living gives order to my days and weeks. It helps me, in turn, to order how I go about my life — what I do, when I do, and who I meet. This desire for order gives me meaning.
Perhaps this is why the regular order of our spiritual lives helps. The scheduled times we pray, go for Confession and attend Mass gives us a sense of meeting God regularly and faithfully. The effort we make to go for retreats or recollection on a regular basis each year deepens our encounter with God. Often, these times assure us that we are keeping faith with God as we believe God keeps faith with us. Because of this, we are confident that we ‘know’ God and God’s plans for us.
But God is the God of surprises. God meets us at times and in places we least expect. His plans can be different from what we hope for. He may speak words that delight us when we do not expect affirmation and celebration, as he can speak words to encourage us when we feel we cannot hear him. In short, God likes interrupting our lives to do more good for us, and through us, for those he places into our care.
‘A God who interrupts’ is the theme of Fr Mike Schmidt’s video that I am inviting you to watch and reflect on today. It is apt that we consider how God is going to interrupt us this year — he definitely will. God isn’t God unless he interrupts us. He does so because he loves us and wants the best for us.
- Here are some points (paraphrased) Fr Schmidt makes in the video:
He likes calendars and schedules. For him, the best parties and meetings are those scheduled. He doesn’t like being interrupted and or attending ‘spur of the moment’ meetings. They interrupt his life, his schedules and his plans; he doesn’t like this.
- The saints lived lives that were interrupted by God. Their will, their plans, their dreams, and their lives were always interrupted by God. God’s actions helped them become saints. Interruptions can, frustrate, annoy and disturb because they are obstacles to living life. But interruptions are also occasions for holiness.
- The life of St Maximilian Kolbe exemplifies how interruptions lead to holiness. St Maximilian lived a holy life and he had a busy ministry. When World War II broke out, he was imprisoned by the Nazis. In prison, the Nazis wanted to punish the prisoners for a fault some prisoners did. The Nazis gathered some to kill and set an example to the other prisoners. St Maximilian offered to take the place of one of them who had a family. He sacrificed his life.
- For Fr Schmidt, St Maximilian’s was interrupted by the events of history. His plans and life were turned upside down by the many interruptions he faced. All this led to that last interruption; it was the graced occasion for him to become a saint.
- Fr Schmidt shares his learning that interruptions can be occasions for holiness. He felt his learning was a paradigm shift because it helped him see how every interruption in our daily life by people who ask for help or want a listening ear or demand our attention is, in fact, an occasion for holiness. In all these moments, God is working for us to become saints.
- It will do us good, Fr Schmidt says, to ask God to help us appreciate how the interruptions in our lives today and whenever they happen are really God’s invitations for us to grow in holiness. When we are interrupted, it would be good for us to ask God, “What is it that you want of me in this interruption? What do you want to do through me in this time because every interruption is an occasion for your holiness, Lord?”
You can watch Fr Schmidt’s reflection here:
Having listened to Fr Schidmt, take some time to consider these three points for your prayerful reflection this week:
a) Look at how you live your life each day, each week. Do schedules and calendars order your time and effort much more than the impulse and freedom to act spontaneously and to ‘go with the flow’? Why is this so? Do you feel you need to manage the situation better by striving for a balanced life?
Take some time and reflect on these questions. Then, share with the Lord how you feel about your present life and your hopes to living it better this year?
b) Fr Schidmt shares about St Maximillian’s life as God interrupted it so that there were opportunities and occasions for him to grow in holiness. How do you feel about God working in your life this way — interrupting your plans, schedules, hopes, dreams and life in order to turn everything upside down so that God can help you grow in holiness? Would you want God to interrupt your life as a person with SSA? How would you respond when God does? What will you ask God for when he interrupts your life?
Write down your responses to these questions. Reflect on why you respond in these ways. Ask God for the graces you need to meet Him in these interruptions and what you hope to receive from God in these interruptions?
c) Look back on your life, especially the many moments when it was interrupted. Identify one or two of those interruptions that made a significant change in how you lived or studied or worked, even how you relate to someone. What was the experience like? How did you respond at that moment? Now consider how the interruptions have shaped who you are now, how you interact with others and the ways you decide, care and hope. Was God present in these interruptions? How so? Did you learn anything about yourself as God’s beloved even as one is same-sex attracted?
Spend some time and reflect on God’s presence and action in those moments. End this time of reflection by thanking God for interrupting your life, explaining why you are grateful. Alternatively, you may ask God to help you see more clearly how his interruptions have helped you grow as a person and a believer.
Words of Encouragement for this week
Join me to pray that we will always open our hearts and minds to God in every interruption we experience. In all these moments, God awaits to form more and more to become his saints; this is God’s deepest desire for you and me.