Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Fab Five

A year or so ago, I received as a gift a book by Dr. John Wood: Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary Mission (Five Steps to Winning the War Within).

I'm not big on self-help books. 

But this one came from our parish, St. Eleanor, as a Christmas gift. In fact, sufficient quantities were bought for every person who came to Mass for the holy day. Regular parishioners. Guests. And once-a-year drop-ins.

The idea of using this book as a welcoming tool came from our pastor, who is new. And who, frankly, I love. He has arrived at our church brimming with energy and verve, with an electric sense of faith that I admire and a true, living and vibrant reflection of Christ's love and compassion

I struggle with the acceptance of God's love. Not sure why. I think it's generational. The Catholic Church of the mid-1960s was still steeped in a lot of hellfire and damnation. So the idea that God loves me can be difficult for me to grasp. Because my inner dialog keeps channeling all that baloney from elementary school: How wretched we are; undeserving of God's even slightest attention; on the brink of his eternal scorn and punishment; blah-blah-blah.

I'm working on it.

Anyway, among Dr. Wood's recommendations (one of the Five Steps) is to make a habit of daily prayer.

And I thought I was pretty good at that one. But when I started to look deeply, I realized that on most days, I was coming up short. Sure there was "stupid prayer" like, "Oh God, let me get this green light... let me get this green light... LET ME GET THIS GREEN LIGHT!!!" But very little that could be called actual dialog.

So I decided to make it a part of my day. Every day.

Wood talks about identifying a "Faithful Five" (or something like that; I actually forget what he calls them). This is a set of go-to saints who have special meaning and who readers are advised to talk to on a daily basis.

Something about that recommendation resonated with me.

Each day, now, for the past year, during my morning walks with Parker, I call on my Faithful Five -- which I've dubbed my "Fab Five":

  1. Saint Francis, who I ask to bless all beloved animals, to care for those that are neglected, abused, forgotten and abandoned; those in shelters; those awaiting a home. I ask for special care of all animals who work in service and therapy and alongside first-responders and the military.
  2. Saint Augustine, who struggled with the temptations of sin and found the courage to turn away.
  3. Saint Cecilia, patron saint of church musicians. I ask her to bless all those who spark praise-filled song. I ask her to bless me and my colleagues with sharp minds, strong backs, inspired liturgy, nimble fingers and spirit-filled leadership.
  4. Saint Mary, who I petition to bless all families, especially those fighting illness, abuse, estrangement, in-fighting, addiction, financial difficulties and infidelity. I ask her to watch over parents who are caring for ill children or who are concurrently raising their own kids while trying to balance caring for their aging parents.
  5.  Saint Joseph, who I petition to come to the aid of the unemployed and the underemployed.
If nothing else, it reminds me that saints were just regular people who stepped up by works of extreme faith. They didn't float on clouds or coordinate their fashions with their halos. They were hungry, they got tired, they bled, they cried, they danced at weddings, drank wine, sewed ripped seams in their tunics, fought with siblings, stubbed their toes and stepped in camel poop.

Just like us.

...although I'm not sure I've ever stepped in camel poop.

Who would your Fab Five be? Why not chat them up every now and then?

No comments:

Post a Comment