Finding God on Gannon’s Campus

The spirit of Lent is with us.  I have already, within hours, screwed up my Lenten resolution.  I thought, “What is the sense, Rob?”

Then I had a conversation with a priest friend of mine who told me about a homily he gave and in the homily he said, “Keep it simple.”

Simple? Why in the world would I want to do something like that?  I can’t torment myself and put the guilt of failure on my shoulders if it is simple.

I remembered that Jesus’ message in the beatitudes is simple and the message of a great saint that I am fond of, Saint Therese of Lisieux, is to find the “little way.”

The little way is a wonderful way for all of us.   It breaks down those big ideas and academic theories to a simplicity that we can surely understand.

When we take the tasks of everyday life and do the little thing, such as picking up a pen someone dropped or perhaps holding a door for someone with the intention of love, that is the little way.

Last week we celebrated random acts of kindness week and I found that the message of keeping it simple was in those weeks’ activities in a real intimate way.

So, I decided to “test” this little way in an area that I took for granted.  The daily routines of life can become mundane and reduced to locomotion with no real thought.  The way I was going to do the “test” was to be aware, which is another bit of information that a friend placed on my hard drive.

My actions and words are what I was going to be aware about.  Boy, it is so easy to say things that have the ability to injure another person. I did so last week, and that also brought about this idea.

Now, here is the way it worked out.  I made a note in the morning, a physical note, that was a prompt, or perhaps a checklist of my activities.

I was going to say a kind word, when it was NOT easy to do.  Then the second thing I wanted to do was do something that was not easy for a person that I may not be in agreement with.  The third and sometimes the hardest thing to do; I was going to accept the deeds of another, whether good or bad, with the focus on love.

What does that last one mean? Simply this: whatever a person said or did to me, I was going to accept with a sense of love. God wanted me to learn from the experience.

Now, sometimes God wants us to stand up for ourselves, which if you have not been used to doing is very difficult, and, believe me, you will get some very curious looks.

Then what I took away from that situation is this – I had grown as a person, identified my internal emotions, and the reason I had them and also became aware of the people around me and what my words and actions were.

The way in which we are used to doing things is a comfort and Jesus challenges us to grow, and growth is painful sometimes.

Imagine for a moment the desert experience that Jesus had, our Lenten experience, and how difficult it was for him.

In the desert, Jesus was aware of his surroundings and when the temptations to do and say something that would be harmful to him or the surrounding people, he approached it with love. This serves as a lesson for us.

The experience of a desert is not so far from us here at Gannon. We, on a daily basis, are challenged to the task of performing our daily activities in the way Jesus would and that is not always going to be popular with people.

What do you do when a person that you don’t know asks you for help, or perhaps that person you care for the least is standing in line beside you, will you give them a smile, or look the other way or pretend you are texting?

Giving someone a smile and kind word when it is not easy is the focus of the great saint, Therese of Lisieux, and this “little way” that makes our experience at Gannon real, in the sense of what we are on this planet to do for each other, and that is to be Jesus for each other.

If you want to up the ante, think of this.  The person you love the most is standing at the edge of a cliff and your actions toward the least liked person in your life is saving the loved one from death.

 

ROB LOPEZ

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