Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Day All Year Long

With Father Michael Blastic, OFM
One of my favorite events during the year is going to Graymoor, NY to spend time with other men and women who are also discerning their call to the Franciscan way of life.  This year our presenter was Father Michael Blastic of the Order of Friars Minor (OFM).  He spoke to us about Franciscan and Clarian prayer and included some of Saint Bonaventure and Blessed John Duns Scotus as well. One of the important points he made was about how most of the prayers we have from Saint Francis and Saint Clare are prayers of praise and thanksgiving.  He went on to say, "Francis and Clare believed with every fiber of their being that God was always there for them, to be with them and take care of them.  If we were to truly believe this, what would we really need to ask for?  I think that was the poverty of Francis and Clare, giving praise and thanksgiving, always aware of God's goodness."  This idea stuck with me and I am still considering how I can better implement this on a regular basis.
Four Future Friars

In my case, I would say that my prayers of both petition and thanksgiving are quite even in number.  However, I am now considering the fact that God does always take care of me, even when I do not ask, so should my prayers of petition really be as numerous as my prayers of thanksgiving?  To give an example of a time in which God took care of me without my asking for a specific favor, I will share a piece of my vocation story with you.

It was 2010 and I was finishing my Spring semester in college.  I was halfway through my Candidacy with the Felician Sisters, living on my own, going to school and working part time.  I was scheduled to enter Postulancy with the Sisters that Fall, but was facing some debt that would prevent my entering if I could not pay it off before then.  It was $3,000, but I still needed to take classes in the summer which would add on another $1,000.  It wasn't much compared to the debt that many of my classmates had, but to have to pay it off in about three months seemed nearly impossible, especially since I couldn't work full time in the summer.  I finally said to God, "I trust that You can do whatever needs to be done.  If You want me to enter the convent, You'll have to find the money for me because I don't have it."

Sister Clara Maria, my Poor Clare friend
Since it was the end of the semester I knew all the Scholarship money would be given away, so I applied for a loan to pay for my summer classes.  I turned in my application only a few days before the deadline and anxiously awaited the response.  I had never applied for a loan before (my previous debt was on a credit card), so I wasn't too sure what to expect.  Finally I received a bank statement showing that I had just over $4,000 in my account.  Was this my loan?  I didn't quite understand, so I looked online and the description next to the amount said something about a Grant.  "A Grant?" I thought, "I didn't apply for a Grant..."  I told my mom and she said not to touch it, thinking it might have been a mistake, so I decided to call the school.  "Your loan was approved," they told me, "You will receive the check in the mail shortly."  I was so confused.  "But I received money from the University in my account already," I explained, "Is that not the loan?"  Then the woman on the phone delivered an answer that I knew came straight from God, "No, there was leftover money in our Grant fund, so we awarded you a $2,000 Grant for each of the two semesters you just completed.  That's what you have in your account, but you will also be receiving the check for your loan."

So this is what happened: I never even had to use the loan.  Instead, I cashed it and then paid the University right back.  The Grant money they had given me for the past two semesters (I never knew you could receive money for classes already completed) added up to the exact amount I needed -- $1,000 for my summer classes and $3,000 for my debt, and I didn't have to pay it back.  The $4,000 standing between me and the Felician Sisters had vanished just like that!

Praying Together
You may consider the prayer I had uttered to God a petition, but I do not.  To me, a petition would have been more along the lines of, "God, I want to enter the convent, but I need You to take away my debt.  Please find the money for me."  Instead, my prayer was more directed toward what God wanted for me, not what I wanted for me.  It is true I wanted to enter the convent, but rather than focus on the obstacle to my hopes, I trusted God would take care of me even if that meant I wasn't going to be able to enter the convent.  There is nothing wrong with prayers of petition, but because of Father Michael's comment, I am learning how to fashion my prayers based on a deep sense of trust in God and His goodness.  Whether that means saying, "Alright Lord, do what You gotta do," or "Lord, I praise you for knowing my needs and always caring for me," I know that this has begun to shape my relationship with God in yet another new and exciting way.

How about you?  How does God care for you?

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, dear friends!  May this holiday be a special reminder for you of God's goodness as well as preparation for the many blessings yet to come :)

With much love and many blessings,
Sister Desire' Anne-Marie

November 2012 Graymoor Group