Have you ever felt as though you are not being fed spiritually?
Last year, I had the incredible privilege of studying in Rome. I had amazing classes with Dominican priests as professors, as well as uplifting homilies every day, specifically directed by the priests to us four Sisters in our convent chapel and usually regarding some aspect of the living of our religious vocation.
This year, I am back in the United States. I am once again studying theology, but no longer in Rome and no longer with the uniquely Dominican focus that I had last year. And because we do not have Mass in our convent chapel, the daily homilies are usually more general and not related to our religious vocations.
So I found myself one morning in adoration recently complaining to the Lord that I did not feel like I was being fed, at least not in comparison to what I had last year. But I realized through this honest prayer that, while I could still legitimately grieve the loss of the many gifts I had last year in Rome, I needed not to allow that to keep me from seeing the specific way the Lord wants to feed me spiritually right here and right now.
I asked the Lord to give me eyes to see what He wants to give me through these studies, these homilies, these experiences this year. Essentially, I was asking for the ability to receive His grace in the present moment. And once I asked for this and began to look more intentionally for how He was trying to feed me spiritually now, suddenly my classes became more engaging and exciting, and I realized that my own lack of openness was a primary reason that I had felt as though I was not being fed.
A common complaint regarding the Mass is, “I don’t get anything out of it.” Whether this statement implies an excuse for not attending Mass or simply a struggle with the style of preaching or singing, people who say this feel as though they are not being spiritually fed. Perhaps then, as in my situation, a change of perspective is needed, a seeing the situation as the Lord sees it. Instead of, “If only he could preach like Father so-and-so,” or “If only the music or the Church architecture were more beautiful,” what a difference it can make if we approach Mass with the attitude of, “What gift does the Lord want to give me here today?”
And always, we can be sure that the gift He wants to give is Himself. As He speaks His Word to our hearts and feeds us with His own Body and Blood, He comes to transform our lives. He gives each of us the specific grace we need to become a saint, which is not necessarily the grace we might think we need at any given moment. He works everything for our good and our sanctification. Let us have eyes to see Him drawing us to Himself, especially in the Mass.
Sr. Mary Martha Becnel is a member of the Ann Arbor-based Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.