Our national retreat in Long Island, NY has come and gone and hopefully many of us who attended have now had the chance to digest all that we experienced. God, as usual, was generous with his graces and his blessings upon all of us.
It was a weekend filled with hope, joy and fraternal love. For many of us it had been quite some time since we had seen one another. New faces gathered assured us that indeed there are fruits to our labor and our prayers. And as a community that is so spread out across many thousands of miles throughout this vast and beautiful land, we missed our dear brothers and sisters who were unable to attend however, were very much a part of our thoughts and prayers.
The weekend was dedicated to reflecting on the theme of commitment. Fr. Joseph helped us to delve deeper into the meaning of commitment in our lives and in our journey of faith, particularly as brothers and sisters in the Emmanuel Community.
The reflection was based on Psalm 37 “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will act”. (37:5)
Here is a small glimpse of the teachings:
Commitment is always visible. Commitment is a way that is concrete. The path of commitment is something we can always come back to. This ability to “come back” should be a source of consolation for us as many times we veer away from the path wether by sin, other commitments or just plain laziness. Because of this, commitment is something that is based on trust. It is a path that fulfills our hearts desires: “Find your delight in the Lord who will give you your heart’s desire.” (37:4) Hence, commitment is also at the service of joy a joy that leads us to holiness because we are fulfilling God’s will.
There are two greats myths about commitment that we must uncover:
- Commitment is the enemy of freedom and
- We can have it all!
Because commitment is at the service of joy and ultimately our holiness, commitment should always be in line with God’s will and what is best for us, even though it may not always come easily. John Paul Sartre, a 20th century french philosopher (1905-1980) pointed out that every time we choose, we are less free. He thought the notion of freedom was absurd simply because are choices begin to limit us. But on the other hand, St. Thérèse of Lisieux said that “the freedom to choose is living fully the reality that we have chosen or have been given.” So in essence, our freedom does not lie in “having it all” but in living fully what we have been given, in having an “attitude of gratitude” as became a new theme for the weekend.
In time, as we continue on the path of commitment, wether it be in our day-to-day responsibilities, our journey of faith or our commitment to the Emmanuel Community, we will see the fruits of our commitment through God’s own faithfulness. God cannot help but be faithful! “If we are unfaithful he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.” 2 Tim 2:13.
God commits to our lives and he uses the very commitments we have established to manifest his own faithfulness. Where do we want our delight to be? Precisely where our delight is, is where our desires are and even, at times, where are “tiresome” commitments are that God shows He is active in our lives. This leads us to trust and hence to recommit ourselves again and again to what is good, beautiful and just…to God’s will!
The true sign of our fruitfulness in our commitments, such as marriage, is not found in the fable like endings “and they lived happily ever after…” that so many search for and therefore lose sight of what true commitments means. The sign of fruitfulness in our commitments is found in the effort we put forth and the work it takes to allow God to work in our own lives; the day in and day out and smallest of details. Let us be faithful as God is faithful to us.