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Pathways to God in Everyday Life View Comments
By Catherine Looker, S.S.J.

A very wealthy young man runs to Jesus, kneels at his feet and asks him: “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17). After this eager inquirer asserts that he has faithfully kept God’s commands all his life, Jesus lovingly invites him to a deeper level of discipleship—along with a promise that he will find treasure in heaven—after selling his possessions. When the young man hears this, he walks away sad because he refuses to give up his many possessions.

As compelling as this story is, we may also find it helpful to recall that Mark describes this young man as running to ask his question. This story can prompt us to question the pace and direction of our own spiritual journeys: How eagerly do we approach Jesus? Do we run to him? Or does fear hold us back?

Do we approach Jesus with hesitations and doubt? Or do we take our questions and concerns elsewhere?

Don’t we daily seek direction and guidance? While driving short or long distances, many of us rely on a Global Positioning System (GPS), a satellite-based system that works reliably in all weather conditions, everywhere in the world, 24 hours a day. We implicitly trust that the GPS will quickly and safely guide us to our destination.

Is there a similarly reliable guidance system for our spiritual lives and our relationship with Jesus?
Alice, a 33-year-old working mother of two small boys, recently shared: “How do I have time to pray and find God? I am so busy with my two children, and it’s much easier for me to pray at Christmas or Easter since I enjoy these seasons with my children, family members, friends and co-workers. But what about the in-between times when I often feel rather adrift, without a clear spiritual focus?”

What Alice calls “in-between times” the Christian liturgical year names “Ordinary Time,” the liturgical period between Christmas and Lent and again from Pentecost to Advent. Alice is asking the same question as many contemporary spiritual seekers: How can we more actively and securely follow Jesus’ guidance amid our daily tasks?

Using Gospel passages and reflection questions, this article will offer five pathways for spiritual journeys: encounter, trust, faith, freedom and community.

Sister Catherine Looker is a Sister of Saint Joseph of Chestnut Hill, which sponsors Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia. She is an assistant professor of religious studies there and has a broad range of experience in teaching, pastoral ministry, spiritual direction and retreat work.

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Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
<p>Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. </p><p>The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. </p><p>Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. </p><p>Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. </p><p>The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. </p><p>By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. </p><p>During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.</p> American Catholic Blog I discovered that my sins had created a spiritual racket that drowned out the gentle whispers of God to my soul; God had never actually abandoned me, but I needed repentance and sacramental grace to reawaken all that was good and beautiful in me.

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