I tend to pray this Novena while commuting to work. Something about driving highways makes me meditative. I have been trying, as I pray, to offer up my suffering to ease someone else’s and I have been picking a different person each day.
I discovered, however, that what I consider suffering many would consider blessings. Take my annoyance at driving behind a slow-moving truck. It’s a bother, yes. But another way to look at it is - hey at least I have a working car and a job to drive too. So many people don’t.
I was feeling kind of inadequate about what I consider suffering until a wise, young friend from School of Community suggested it’s pretty easy to be noble in the face of supreme suffering. She pointed out that it can be tough, really tough, to seek Christ as we labor through our daily discontentments.
I remember putting on a brave face when my husband and I lost two children before birth. So too when we nearly lost a third – our firstborn son – a day after his birth when he stopped breathing several times in the hospital and had to be resuscitated. My obstetrician told me with a gentle smile, “You were a mess until you had something real to deal with. Now you are doing a magnificent job coping with this.”
The conversation with my friend led me to thinking about the church calendar. Ordinary Time is called that because the time is numbered. But I also think of it as ordinary time, regular, day-to-day living. Sixty percent of the Church year is spent in ordinary time, just as most of our lives – God willing – do not consist of dramatic suffering and crises, but rather the living out of our destinies through our vocations.
Sure it’s Advent and yes we are awaiting the Lord, but I still have to put dishes in the dishwasher before bed, rise before dawn so I can commute to a job that helps feed our sons and try to fold laundry before heading out the door. This is a drag but it can be a source of delight if I can pray while I do this. I can offer up my early-morning moodiness to someone who need my prayers. I found this beautiful prayer under the heading “Ordinary Prayers” that speaks to my heart.
Your call never comes to us in a vacuum;
It comes to us in the circumstances
of our ordinary lives.
Therefore our response cannot be given
only in the privacy of our own minds;
it must overflow into our daily lives.
You call us through our family,
through our community of Church,
and through the world.
Help me to see that when I say no
to the legitimate requests of my family,
my community, or my world,
I say no to You.
You have ordained that
whatever advances the true progress
of the Church
and of the world,
is my way of saying yes to your call.
May I take advantage of the daily opportunities
that You place at my disposal
to answer your call affirmatively.