Throughout our lives we find ourselves on many different journeys. Each journey has a lesson to teach. Each journey transforms us, or at least should start to transform us, into better people. What journey are you on right now? Getting through high school? College? Finding a job? Preparing for Marriage? Whatever it is, here is a short CPR course to get you through it, to invigorate you, revive you, so in the end there’ll be no doubt in your mind that you traveled well on your journey and did your best to be transformed into a better person.
Before beginning a journey some thought and preparation must be put into it. Many times we feel we don’t have enough of something we need for the journey — like time, energy, money, etc. Consider yourself blessed because this need for something that you feel you can’t get for yourself helps you realize what you actually do need most: God. Your journey helps you to depend on God.
Sadly, the world often tells us that if we depend on others we are weak. Wrong! Depending on God doesn’t make us weak it makes us strong. When you feel weak and empty inside the first real transformation begins to happen: you make room for God. What a great friend to have as you start your journey. God wants to walk with you every step of the way. Let Him in!
CPR is an acronym for community, prayer and repentance. Let’s look at each of them.
Every journey that has at its root the purpose of transforming oneself must begin by building bonds of support with family, friends and the Church. You never really walk alone; your community is always with you. Transformation is not meant to be a personal affair, but one that goes beyond our ego: It’s not just about me it’s about us. It’s very OK to depend on others, because when we do, we come to the heart of what community really means — giving selfless love and service, wash each other’s feet, forgive one another, welcome the poor to your table, celebrate life together. As a youngster, just starting out in ministry, I was asked to describe my community. And so I described where I lived, my neighborhood, etc. Others did the same. The point of the question was to see if any of us ever thought of “our community” as the whole world. I never forgot that — the world is my community. It taught me a valuable lesson on thinking “outside the box.”
Every journey must also include prayer. Time, time, time! Who’s got the time for prayer? Make time! Commit yourself to prayer every day. Let me try to make it easier for you; it’s not so much how you pray, but that you pray for an amount of time that is appropriate for your commitments. Commit a specific time every day, if that’s more in line with your busy daily schedule. Each morning, before I get my cup of coffee, I take a few minutes to tell God how much I love Him, to thank Him for the new day and to ask Him to bless my family and friends. You know, somehow, the cup of coffee tastes much better after prayer, and, my day just got a better outlook. Wherever your journey takes you, find the form of prayer that is convenient for you. Maybe it’s on the bus, or driving to work or school. Maybe it’s in the morning, mid-day or at night. What it’s important is to make time for prayer. Don’t know what to pray? Read the Bible. Don’t like praying alone? Pray with others by attending daily Mass.
Finally, every journey includes repentance. We aren’t perfect. God knows that and we know that. But, remember, we are a loved people, and, a people who are always given second chances. That’s real love. We all carry unwanted baggage. Examining our conscience helps us to know what it is that weighs us down, burdens us and makes us anxious. Your journey of transformation helps you to purge yourself of the unnecessary weight you carry. True repentance guides us out of the darkness and leads us to our destination, the light of Christ. Repentance means letting go and letting God.
In a few days the Church will begin its Lenten journey. I pray you will be a part of it. What are you going to do this Lent? Whatever it is, know that you will have made a good journey, one that includes a change for the better, when at the end you find yourself at the foot of the cross. And then you can say, “I have traveled well.”
I offer this prayer as you think about your next journey: “Lord, strengthen me on my journey so that I look past the doubts and fears which tempt me to abandon my efforts to live justly as God’s child. You created me from the dust of the earth and breathed Your own life into my very being. You recreated me in Christ through the waters of Baptism so that I might share as a person Your fullness of life. May my community strengthen me to seek Your justice; may my prayer lead me to become makers of peace; may my repentance quicken the seeds of Your reign, present in all human hearts, and growing in mystery, as I await with joyful anticipation the resurrection of Jesus, Your Son. Amen.”
Anchor columnist Ozzie Pacheco is Faith Formation director at Santo Christo Parish, Fall River.