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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.
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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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Katharine Drexel: If your father is an international banker and you ride in a private railroad car, you are not likely to be drawn into a life of voluntary poverty. But if your mother opens your home to the poor three days each week and your father spends half an hour each evening in prayer, it is not impossible that you will devote your life to the poor and give away millions of dollars. Katharine Drexel did that. 
<p>She was born in Philadelphia in 1858. She had an excellent education and traveled widely. As a rich girl, she had a grand debut into society. But when she nursed her stepmother through a three-year terminal illness, she saw that all the Drexel money could not buy safety from pain or death, and her life took a profound turn. </p><p>She had always been interested in the plight of the Indians, having been appalled by what she read in Helen Hunt Jackson’s <i>A Century of Dishonor</i>. While on a European tour, she met Pope Leo XIII and asked him to send more missionaries to Wyoming for her friend Bishop James O’Connor. The pope replied, “Why don’t you become a missionary?” His answer shocked her into considering new possibilities. </p><p>Back home, Katharine visited the Dakotas, met the Sioux leader Red Cloud and began her systematic aid to Indian missions. </p><p>She could easily have married. But after much discussion with Bishop O’Connor, she wrote in 1889, “The feast of St. Joseph brought me the grace to give the remainder of my life to the Indians and the Colored.” Newspaper headlines screamed “Gives Up Seven Million!” </p><p>After three and a half years of training, she and her first band of nuns (Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored) opened a boarding school in Santa Fe. A string of foundations followed. By 1942 she had a system of black Catholic schools in 13 states, plus 40 mission centers and 23 rural schools. Segregationists harassed her work, even burning a school in Pennsylvania. In all, she established 50 missions for Indians in 16 states. </p><p>Two saints met when Katharine was advised by Mother Cabrini about the “politics” of getting her Order’s Rule approved in Rome. Her crowning achievement was the founding of Xavier University in New Orleans, the first Catholic university in the United States for African Americans. </p><p>At 77, she suffered a heart attack and was forced to retire. Apparently her life was over. But now came almost 20 years of quiet, intense prayer from a small room overlooking the sanctuary. Small notebooks and slips of paper record her various prayers, ceaseless aspirations and meditation. She died at 96 and was canonized in 2000.</p> American Catholic Blog Our task during these forty days is to examine our lives in light of God’s Word and see where we’ve allowed darkness to creep in, where we’ve taken the bait of the diabolical fisher of men. It’s time to use the sword of the Spirit to cut through his web of deception, to free ourselves from the net that holds us as prey.


 
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