Monday, August 27, 2012


Today we have in the first reading the opening of Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians. Each time we celebrate the Eucharist we begin with the sign of the cross and a greeting. The greetings are not just what ever the priest wants to say but are texts taken from Paul's greetings, the openings of his letters.

Paul opens his letter today by wishing them to things: grace and peace, in Greek charis and eirene. This greeting is often used at mass and so this reading gives us a chance to reflect on these words.

In their original sense they are not things; they are states of being.

The first is from the verb chairo. It means to be cheerful, calm, happy. The second is a fairly close Greek equivalent of the Hebrew shalom. It's meaning includes peace, clam, stillness, oneness. It has the same root as Greek verb "to join, unite".

My guess is we all would like to live this way. The mistake we make is that we think the feeling has to come first and then the action. Here C.S. Lewis had great insight. Often what we need to is act a certain way even if it's not how we feel, and over time the feeling will come. Behave charitably even when you don't feel charitable, and over time you will find yourself becoming a more charitable person.

I remember the first time I rode a horse. It felt awkward, unnatural, painful. Over time the body adapts. The muscle in the legs and hips release and it becomes a place you are comfortable and at home.

Prayer works much the same way and can take just as long as horseback riding to become comfortable. Even if you don't feel happy, clam, or at peace, you have force yourself to be still and quiet. At first it may be more uncomfortable than a horse. You may find yourself fidgeting, physically and/or mentally. Stay with it. Every annoyance that enters you head, surrender it to God. Persistence is the key.

And there we have or link to today's saint, Monica, the mother of St. Augustine. The woman most know for her absolute refusal to give up. If your prayer life isn't what it ought to be there is no better day than the memorial of St. Monica to dig in start over and refuse to give up.