30 July 2009

Each Stage of the Journey

We hear in today's first reading about the cloud and fire which marked the Lord's presence to the Israelites at "each stage of their journey." These words are the final words in the book of Exodus; it is a fitting conclusion for a book whose title means, literally, "the road out." The Israelites undertook their journey in light of the Lord's guidance. They watched for the cloud to lift in order to proceed and when the cloud did not lift, they stayed in place.

It may strike us today as silly to think of stopping and waiting -- during a long journey -- when proceeding consistently would seem to ensure a more expeditious arrival. We might, however, learn something from the attentiveness of the Israelites. Sometimes we get stuck in traffic and are frustrated as to why we are held up on our way. Perhaps we are planning a trip with our family and the dates we desire are not convenient. We may never know, on this side of eternity, what troubles the Lord spares us or what delights he prepares for us as he permits our own "plans" to be subject to circumstances which are beyond our control. If we begin each day, each task, each event, each "stage" of our journey with a prayer to God, dedicating our work and our rest, our praying and playing and our every effort to His glory, we will be less likely to see "stopping and waiting" as a nuisance. We may not get a cloud by day and a fire by night to guide us, but we will have the assurance that every moment of our day is offered as a prayer to our loving God.

Here we share a prayer of St. Francis de Sales which he used to consecrate his daily life to the Lord. To this day Visitation Sisters, Oblates of St. Francis de Sales and their friends, alumnae and alumni -- and many other members of the Salesian family -- begin their days with this prayer.

"My God, I give you this day. I offer you, now, all of the good that I shall do and I promise to accept, for love of you, all of the difficulty that I shall meet. Help me to conduct myself during this day in a manner pleasing to you. Amen."
St. Francis de Sales' "Direction of Intention"

No comments: