(Prayer offered on the Public Address system at La Salle Academy on the morning of 3 February)
Let us remember we are in the holy presence of a loving God.
We are one month into 2014 and statistics suggest that one third of us who made New Year’s resolutions have already given up on them. I myself pretty much am that statistic as I am going strong on 3 for 5. I don’t care what anyone says, change is hard.
And change comes in all forms, whether you are talking about putting a razor to your illustrious beard, growing another year older, trying to gain weight, trying to lose weight, exercising, quitting a habit, going to church every week, studying more, being nicer, being more assertive, eating healthier (because I don’t care what Jared says, eating Subway everyday for lunch is not a good idea), whatever the change. It most likely comes with challenges and complexities that few people like to deal with.
So it begs the question, if change comes with all sorts of new difficulties and feelings of discomfort, why do we bother changing at all? Intrinsically we know the answer to this question is to make ourselves, our communities, our loved ones around us better, to ultimately improve our lives for good.
So we know that change will be difficult, but ultimately beneficial. Why then do so many of us resist it so intensely or worse yet fake it? Have you ever lied to say that you’ve made certain changes you know you should, while knowing deep down inside that you have made no sincere attempt to make those changes in your life? I should have played one less hour of “Flappy Birds” and focused that time on Morning Prayer, knowing the Super Bowl was going to take my entire Sunday up… did I?…nope. Would I tell you otherwise? Usually! Rather than actually changing, being more responsible, more active, it would just be easier to say I did.
What is it about our old ways that when they are challenged or questioned we dig our heels in all the more, insisting the way things have always been, the way we perceive things to be or the way we pretend things are, is absolutely good enough and in no need of improvement or reconsideration? How often do we judge others for things that they should change about themselves when are blind to our own shortcomings?
I remind you that change does not need to happen just at the beginning of a new year, or specifically at the beginning of a new month, or a Monday because it is the start of a new week, though they are all good points at which to start. Change can come at any moment so long as you want it bad enough. With reflection and prayer I assure you that you can find the strength to make the changes in life that God in fact calls us to make.
For me, when I pray and reflect on the person I am and the person I want to be, sort of a “state of my union with God address,” I ask, “How am I not myself?” I know that God calls me to be the truly unique and beautiful creature he has made me, to simply be myself. One thing that I am sure of is, if I am true to the person God calls me to be, I am living a good life, a life worthy of God’s gifts and blessings.
So I pray and reflect: When God calls me to be a man of integrity, how am I not myself? When I cheat, when I lie, when I am a hypocrite, when I am unable to forgive, but insist on being forgiven, how can I truly call myself a man of integrity? There is certainly room for change.
When God calls me to be a man of respect, how am I not myself? When I disregard rules, when I am disruptive in class or during prayer, when I am stubborn and uncompromising, when I use derogatory or hateful language, when I spread gossip, how then can I see myself as a man of respect? What changes do I need to make in my life to live with more honor?
When God calls me to be a Lasallian, how am I not myself? When my effort is minimal in the classroom, when I idolize the rich and discard the poor, when focus on prayer and God’s constant presence in my life becomes old hat and unworthy of my reverence, when service to those in need is too tiresome, boring, or uncomfortable. What then is the value of the word embroidered on our uniforms, painted in our hallways, engraved on our trophies? How can I change to ensure the word Lasallian is an accurate description of me, the man I want to be?
And when God calls me to be a Christian, how am I not myself? When church and prayer are perceived as a burden, when I forget to show mercy and compassion to all my brothers and sisters and especially my enemies, when I judge those around me and measure myself closer to God than others, when I only love within certain conditions, only certain people, who do certain things, and behave certain ways. How can I claim to be a follower of Christ when I cannot follow his simple command to love God and all God’s creations as I love myself? Is there not room for me to grow, to learn to walk closer with God?
Let Us Pray,
Heavenly Father, when I pray for change it is not the change you deliver, but the opportunity for me to be the change in the world that I want to see. Guide me to see these chances to better my family, my friends, my community and myself. Help me to see that everything I am today is a gift from you, and everything I can change myself to be tomorrow is my gift to myself.
Saint John Baptist de La Salle…pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts…forever.
Brian Ciccone (Social Studies teacher)