Several years ago, I spent an extended weekend at a conference in Kananaskis Country, surrounded by the beauty of the Rocky Mountains. One of the highlights of my weekend was the presence of Archbishop Richard Smith (my bishop) and Fr. Mike (a former classmate of mine). Mass was celebrated and confessions were heard in room 2106 at the Delta Lodge in Kananaskis.
On Sunday morning, as we no longer required room 2106… there was a sign for a new group that was meeting that day: Hell on Wheels. The irony was not lost on the Archbishop – nor on the rest of us – what had been a sacred space, a place of encounter was filled almost instantly the moment we vacated it with something evil (though I’m pretty sure it had something to do with an older TV show, and not as diabolical as it sounds).
What if we consider room 2106 as a metaphor for our souls? Part of the task of sanctity is “filling ourselves” with holy things: celebrating the Sacraments, reading scripture, or personal prayer… basically filling ourselves on God. When we abandon these practices – prayer, study, the life of the Church – we leave room for “Hell on wheels” to set up shop in our souls.
One of the most ancient Christian writings, the Didache (the teaching of the Apostles), begins with a statement that should give us pause to think: “There are two ways, one of life and one of death! and there is a great difference between the two…” Daily, we need to make a choice on which way we’re going to go – not only which sign we show on the outside. but also who is allowed to dwell on the inside.
I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God, obeying his voice, and holding fast to him. For that will mean life for you, a long life for you to live on the land which the LORD swore to your ancestors, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give to them.-Deuteronomy 30:19-20
I pray that you would be God’s and God’s alone. So I offer to you here some simple reflections on prayer. These are ways you can choose the way of life rather than the way of death by carving out a sacred space in your life.
- Committing to Prayer: includes St. Francis de Sales’ outline for prayer & recollection
- Prayer as Relationship: Simple things you can do to start a habit of prayer.
- When Words Run out: If you’re not sure what to say when you pray, – Starting the conversation in prayer
- C4 Prayer: A simple way to pray with scripture following an ancient tradition called “Lectio Divina.”