Being Tutored by Saint Genevieve

Being Tutored by Saint Genevieve January 16, 2014

I’ve been vulnerable to a bit of the New Year’s enthusiasm and tendency to overreach, and have been actively trying to pace myself.  I’ve missed having a commute, since my metro ride pretty much guarantees I have the chance to say Morning and Night Office daily, and the cathedral right across from my office means I can go to Mass at lunch and say Midday Office right after.  But I’ve been mostly holding my prayer life to those guys, even though I liked having the Rosary and the Examen as a part of my routine the last time I lived in DC.

I’m trying to set an always routine, and then see what can be added or possibly swapped, rather than establishing a menu of option and choosing from the list everyday.  For one thing, selecting prayers each day burns willpower for me, since I can dither for a while about what would be best or when to do everything.  For another, having swappable choices tends to mean I do a lot less, and sometimes nothing at all.  After all, if I’m choosing some subset of {Morning Office, Evening Office, Night Office, Rosary, Examen, Mass, Lectio Divina, …} it becomes easier to skip each option as it comes up, since I know I could just pick something else later.  E.g. if I see my choice when I get on the subway as Morning Office Now or Book Now, Some Other Prayer Later, I’m inclined to choose the latter.  If I see it as Morning Office Today vs No Morning Office Today, I’m much more likely to fire up my iPhone app.  (And, luckily, I tend not to lose too much reading time, as, once it can’t compete with prayer, it tends to squeeze out youtube or other small internet choices).

Of course, I’ve still had to figure out where to slot in any particular devotions to St. Genevieve of Paris, my saint for the month, into this routine.  I didn’t really have any success thinking about her at arbitrary points during the day, so I looked for a part of my routine where she could live.  It turns out that she was particularly known for devotion to the Eucharist, so I’ve been trying to think of her and ask her intercession while I’m in the Communion line.  I’m asking her first, like Mary, to use her own love of Christ to teach me how to imitate her, and to receive Him as she did.  When I kept thinking about Genevieve preparing my lips to receive the Blessed Sacrament, the events of Isaiah 6:6-8 popped into my head:

Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”

So, when I think of asking Genevieve to prepare my lips to receive the Eucharist, I think of that passage, and am prompted to do at least a small examination of conscience.  What words or negligent silences came from my lips that would be burned away from an encounter with the divine?  When I’m quite lucky, the question pops up again for me outside of mass (usually about three to twenty seconds after an unkind word has made its way out).

I’ve also been thinking more about the way that other people speak with pure lips, which I can learn from and imitate.  There’s a line right near the end of the Breastplate of St. Patrick (one of my favorite prayers) that goes:

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

So, whenever I encounter someone else, I have the opportunity to hear Christ speaking, if I listen with charity and give them the opportunity to show me love.  Preparing for the Eucharist right before reception with St. Genevieve prompts me to broaden my view and to (try) to prepare for Communion with every word I speak and hold back, and in my attentiveness to the words and goodness of all the people I spend time with.

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