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  • Writer's pictureChurch of St. Mark

From the Heart of the Shepherd

By Fr. David Hottinger, PES - Pastor

From the bulletin for the Twenty-Seventh Week in Ordinary Time (October 08, 2023)

Stewardship: Part Two

The summer before my freshman year of high school, I was in an arranged dating relationship with a nice gal from another local Catholic school headed for CDH like myself. I’m going to guess it lasted for about a month. I have to guess because we didn’t see each other at all during the stretch of time in which we were a couple. The “relationship” began at the assistance of intermediaries, who perhaps thought that we two blondes would make for a nice homecoming photo. So at the prompting of her girlfriends, my friend Tom called me one day with the proposal, already drafted and just in need of my verbal approval. It all ended with a phone call from the young lady in question (our first conversation?), in which she observed that it didn’t seem like “this” was working out. I couldn’t disagree. The split was amicable, although I could have done a better job, when school started in the fall, overcoming the awkward barrier and acknowledging her existence when we passed each other in the halls.

Time measures what matters to us. Whatever hopes my summer ‘01 fling initially had regarding a much more verbally-inhibited version of your current pastor, she quickly intuited that I had other priorities. God knows what that feels like. God has an intense personal interest in each one of us. He puts out feelers through His emissaries--the holy angels, the prophets, godly inspirations--in hopes of conveying to us His hopes of awakening our interest and engaging us in a relationship nothing short of spousal. In His condescension, He even makes Himself perpetually available to us. We can call Him anytime; in fact, we have only to turn to Him at any moment and find Him already waiting for us… looking longingly upon us whom He has made for Himself…

Take stock of your prayer habits right now. How much time do you give exclusively to God each day? Do you do so intentionally? Or is it more of a “let’s see what happens” kind of thing? The number of minutes we give to God is a direct measure of our love for Him. No way around it! Granted, your duties of life may not leave you with much of a margin of time over which you have control. But how much of that time is given to God? How resolved are you to carve out time--from sleep, from shows, from fantasy football--to be with the One who loves you so much that only silence and Cross can say it sufficiently?

In this second week of the Month of Stewardship, we are talking about time. It’s the first and most important element of a disciples’ response to God. Time is, of course, the most precious finite resource. At every moment we are choosing to spend our dwindling supply on one thing or another. With our time we purchase union: with this or that project, activity, person, or experience. We make it ours, and we give ourselves to it. Prayer is the way we use our time to seek union with God.

We are called to be a parish of saints who help to save and sanctify our neighbors among whom we worship each Sunday. Saints are quite simply men and women who live in close loving communion with God. So much so that they always do what is pleasing to Him. Saints, therefore, are people who pray. And not a little!

If one wants to be an uppercase Saint in this life, I don’t think it’s generally allowed by God’s grace without spending at least three hours a day with Him in spiritual exercises. If one seeks to be a lowercase saint in this life--someone habitually in the state of grace, who is intentionally striving for virtue and putting Christ’s interests above their own--I don’t think it’s very likely unless one devotes at least a half hour to mental prayer each day. But here is the good news: becoming a saint is, in great measure, just a matter of putting in the time. That is to say, put in time with God, and He will sanctify you. (That’s what He does!) Even if your prayer seems dry and distracted or an all-out combat just to avoid sinful thoughts. Put in the time each day, and over time you will be filled with the Eternal.

This week I encourage everyone to prepare your Prayer Pledge. Use the worksheet found in this bulletin to plan out the time you will give to God this year: how much each day, at what time each day, how you will spend it, and where. Do so remembering that “he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Cor 9:6), and let’s set our trajectory for a bumper crop of God in our lives!

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