Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Monday, July 06, 2009

What Sustains Me

Sojourners magazine has an article in its latest issue titled “What Sustains Me,” in which seventeen activists and church leaders talk about the disciplines that keep them girded for the struggle. This is the link.

Here are some of entries:

Let Jesus Love You, by Tony Campolo

I try to start each day by setting aside about 20 minutes for centering prayer. I empty my mind of the 101 things that are apt to start spinning in my head the moment I wake up. Then, focusing on Jesus, I let him love me. I wait to feel myself enveloped by his presence. I silently yield to being saturated by his Spirit. In my morning prayers, I say nothing to God and I hear no words from God. But in these times of “waiting upon the Lord,” my spiritual strength is renewed.

Secondly, at the end of each day I practice the Ignatian prayer of examen. Lying in bed I reflect on all the good and God-honoring things that I did during the day and thank God for allowing me to be an instrument of love and peace. Following Philippians 4:8, I remember whatever I did that was true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. Only then, after such affirmation, am I prepared to review the day a second time, recalling everything I said that was hurtful to others and fell short of God’s will. In accord with what I read in 1 John 1:9, I ask not only for God’s forgiveness, but also for God’s cleansing. I ask Christ to reach out from Calvary, across time and space, and absorb out of me the sin and darkness that accumulated within me during the day.

I believe that because the Holy Spirit is holy, the Holy Spirit is frustrated coming to dwell in dirty temples. Thus, Christ’s cleansing of my temple at the end of the day is a requisite for receiving the infilling of Christ’s Spirit during centering prayer the next morning. Without Christ’s Spirit in me, I lose heart and lack the energy to do justice and evangelism.

Tony Campolo, professor emeritus at Eastern University, is founder of the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education.

Open Yourself to Community, by Soong-Chan Rah

When we’re in places of activism, we tend to be unable to look or reflect inward. One practice I’ve really attempted is to be in places of community where I’m challenged not just to think outside of the typical ways of thinking, but where my spiritual life is challenged. I’ve been really blessed to have some mentors in my life who have spoken to me about my intellectual and pastoral development. But what has been most helpful to me is how they’ve addressed my spiritual development. They’ve spoken to me about the ways that the work that I do is also tied into who I am in Christ.

Soong-Chan Rah is assistant professor of church growth and evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary in Illinois.

Say Thank You, by Vincent Harding

I seek out quiet whenever I can, wherever I am. Another spiritual discipline is to just practice being grateful. I spend a lot of time saying thank you, because my life has been so rich and I know that the richness has been a gift, most often a divine gift through very human beings. I cannot do anything else but say thank you. That’s central to my practice.

Vincent Harding is professor emeritus of religion and social transformation at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver.