Finding God in the Story of Each Day
Are you relieved when the Christmas season is over? Or do you find yourself with a touch of sadness that the celebrations have come to an end? Maybe you experience both, as I do. In the convent, the transition into Ordinary Time provokes much conversation. All the Christmas decorations are put away, the regular daily schedule resumes and we switch from one volume of our Divine Office book to another. The transition is definitely felt and lived. However, this movement in time, upon closer look, is not so ‘ordinary.’
On February 2nd the Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple. Forty days after Christmas, this feast was traditionally known as Candlemas, acquiring its name from the “Candle Mass” celebrated, at which candles were blessed for the year. This remembrance of Simeon and Anna’s recognition of the long-awaited Messiah as a “light for revelation to the Gentiles” (Lk 2:32) invites each of us to enter more deeply into the light that comes from Christ who is the radiance of the Father’s glory (Heb. 1:3). Entering into this light involves surrender, becoming small and dependent, becoming child-like. Through this entrustment of ourselves to Another, we advance on the road of the spiritual life which leads to the One who is the fulfillment of all our desires. Your face, Lord, do I seek (Ps 27).
The feasts of St. Brigid of Ireland, St. Blaise, St. Agatha, Sts. Paul Miki and Companions, St. Scholastica, Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Polycarp, and St. Peter Damian also grace the days of this month. In the liturgical calendar of the Dominican Order, the memorial of Blessed John of Fiesole, more popularly known as Fra Angelico, is celebrated on February 18. Fra Angelico (1386-1455) is known for his masterful frescos in the cells of San Marco in Florence. Once a monastery for Dominican Friars, this building now houses a museum of sacred art where pilgrims can encounter Christ through Fra Angelico’s masterpieces. St. Antoninus, a Dominican bishop whose vocational journey was intertwined with that of Bl. John, commented about his work, “no one could paint like that without first having been to heaven.” Fra Angelico’s life of virtue and his love for Jesus is reflected in the luminosity of his art. His example moves us to pray that our lives similarly reflect the truth, beauty, and goodness of a life lived for Christ; and that, through our witness, others may come to know the joy and peace of a life totally given to the Lord.
On February 14th, the Church celebrates the memorial of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, missionaries to the Slavic people and co-patrons of Europe. Pope Francis has expressed his desire for a more missionary Church, a Church that has evangelization at its centre, a Church that is not afraid to reach out and proclaim the joy of the Gospel to the ends of the earth. In his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis writes: “The primary reason for evangelizing is the love of Jesus which we have received, the experience of salvation which urges us to ever greater love of Him. What kind of love would not feel the need to speak of the beloved, to point him out, to make him known? If we do not feel an intense desire to share this love, we need to pray insistently that he will once more touch our hearts. We need to implore his grace daily, asking Him to open our cold hearts and shake up our lukewarm and superficial existence” (264). This memorial reminds us to pray for missionaries and to beg for the courage to proclaim the Gospel at every moment of our lives with new eagerness and zeal.
This month of February gives us countless opportunities to allow God to transform the ordinary into extraordinary moments of grace, moments when we can realize more readily that everything is God’s gift. May we approach each day from a supernatural perspective—God’s perspective. As Pope Francis encourages, may our days consist in “listening to God who speaks to us and listening to our everyday reality, paying attention to people and to facts because the Lord is at the door in our lives and He calls in many ways, putting signs along our path and giving us the ability to see them.” Then, we will have the capacity to find God in the story of each day.