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American culture praises success and demonizes failure. Success in business, entertainment, politics, the legal profession, medical (doctors mostly), and sports are significantly rewarded by the admiration and emulation of those who are in awe of their accomplishments. Ask most anyone what their goal in life is, and you will often hear, “I want to be a successful _____________,” and that usually means status and money.
Sadly, in communities like North Lawndale and Austin, the contrasting goal you might hear: “I want to live past 18” or “I want to make it through another day.”
Less praised in our society is faithfulness: Fidelity to a spouse or significant other; commitment to the safety and nurturing of our youth into responsible adulthood; dedication to a cause that benefits others; faithfulness in our daily pursuit of developing our gifts and adding our unique value to the world; commitment to ensuring the dignity and sanctity of every human life from conception to death; faithfulness to respect and preserve the environment, especially in our immediate surroundings. In other words: devotion to God’s faithfulness and love for us in providing us with all of these relationships and the natural world.
Faithfulness to Our Mother/Father God Nurture and Mother Nature
St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) was once asked what her measure of success was. Her response: “God calls us to be faithful. In the end, success is up to God.”
Wouldn’t it be interesting if, in every organization that seeks to serve the needs of others, we opened our meetings by reciting our core mission and then ended each meeting with some time to reflect on all that we talked about, planned, or decided honored – or not honored – our faithfulness to the mission?
Several years ago, I wrote the following prayer/poem I recite daily. I offer it for your daily reflection:
Lord, Help Me to Be Faithful
Lord, make me ever faithful
To Your ever-faithfulness
Trusting You are always with me
In life’s successes and distress.
Renew in me the abiding grace
To love, to accept love in good stead
From those ever close, ever dear to my heart
Intimate nourishment, my daily bread.
Please grant me the patience, the gift of time.
In daily prayer to upraise
My deepest longings and greatest struggles
My gratitude and my praise.
Help me, dear Jesus, to open my heart
To feel both Your joy and Your pain.
Wed the eyes of my soul to your vision
So to be moved to work for Love’s reign.
Fill me with a care and reverence
For my own body, spirit and mind
That through, with, in all I be life-giving:
Creative, merciful, forgiving and kind.
Draw me deeply into Eucharistic mystery
By your Word challenged and renewed
Strengthened by Precious Body and Blood
That with a mission Spirit I be imbued.
Let that Spirit deepen, stretch and empty me
To remove all doubt, all pride and hatred.
Fill me with an untiring and generous spirit
Embracing all creatures, creation, as sacred.
Instill in me great faith and unwavering hope
And dreams that in You find their source,
Dreams no human force can frustrate
Or internal weakness hinder their course.
Help me live, love in big and small ways
In compassion and mercy excel
That through me others may clearly witness
It is You who loves them as well.
Teach me to pursue Your awe and beauty
In boundless creation, so great and so small
That my body, mind and heart be attuned
To the Eternal ever-present in all.
Manifest in me wisdom to inspirit others
In the quest for justice, the sojourn to peace
That as one we may join the sacred journey
To fullness of life, to love without cease.
Ever mold me, shape me with Your passion
That in all I do You might be reflected
So that in each moment I embrace your cross
I may know, with You, I’m Resurrected.
Written by Father Larry Dowling
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
Featured and Top Image by JD Mason Courtesy of Unsplash – Creative Commons License