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Week of August 11

Week of August 11-17
Roberta Bailey, OSB, Benedictine Sisters of Florida

This week in the U.S. the LCWR (Leadership Conference of Women Religious) will be convening in Scottsdale, Arizona. Let us pray for the leaders of women’s communities – and not solely for them – but for all levels of leadership in communities of women religious. May they be women of faith, alive in hope. They and all of us must live in hope with the assurance that however things turn out it makes sense in God’s plan. Our daily stance must be the words of the psalmist: Stay awake and be ready.

Several years ago, Mother Teresa appeared on the Hour of Power television program. The host, Pastor Robert Schuller, reminded her that the show was being broadcast all over America and in 22 foreign countries, including her native Yugoslavia. He asked her if there was one message that she would like to convey to all those viewers. Her response was, "Yes, tell them to pray. And tell them to teach their children to pray."

Sadly, we live in an age where there seems to be little hope in our world. Jesus keeps reminding us to trust God. He encourages us to let go of our resentments, our doubts and our fears. He urges us to remember that there is never a storm so tumultuous that He cannot bring us to safety. There is no night so dark that His light cannot penetrate it. Nothing is going to happen to us that, with His grace, we can’t handle. When hurricane winds howl, and tornado winds whip around us or flood waters are rising we have to remind ourselves that prayer is our most powerful and most reliable force. 

Sometimes it may seem that no one is listening. Do you recall how four-year-old impish Anna addressed God in Sydney Hopkins book, Mister God, This Is Anna? She had great conversations with her Mister God. So, introduce yourself to God. God is listening. God will answer our prayers in God’s own time and in God’s own way.

God said, "I will never leave you or forsake you." This reminds me of the little girl who was kneeling bedside her bed one night. She said, "Dear God, if you're there and you hear my prayer, could you please just touch me?" Just then she felt a touch and got so excited! She said, "Thank you, God, for touching me." Then she looked up, saw her older sister, and got a little suspicious. "Did you touch me?" The sister answered, "Yes, I did." "What did you do that for?" she asked. "God told me to," was the reply.

The big question is, Do we know how to pray as we ought? Do we merely ask for things, or do we dare ask to be transformed? When we do so, do we promise to follow the promptings of the Spirit?We know that our most frequent prayer should be one of thanksgiving. But do we feel secure enough in our relationship with God to voice our requests? Because God knows and loves us, we need never be afraid of the answers. We must be busy doing God's will while we are waiting. Yielding our will means accepting God answers to our prayers. We’ve learned through experience that God’s answer could be: Not now or maybe later or I’m on it or that’s not the best idea right now. How we get along with each other says a great deal about how we love God and the kind of people we want to be.

A priest, a minister and a guru were discussing the best positions for prayer while a telephone repairman worked nearby. "Kneeling is definitely the best way to pray," the priest said. "No," the minister said, "I get the best results standing with my hands outstretched to Heaven." "You're both wrong," the guru said. "The most effective prayer position is lying down on the floor with your eyes closed." The repairman could contain himself no longer. "Hey, fellas," he interrupted, "The best praying I ever did was when I was hanging upside down from a telephone pole."

I will close with a portion of Nelson Mandela’s 1994 Inaugural Speech: 
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, successful, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory that is within us,
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, 
Our presence automatically liberates others.

Sister Roberta Bailey is prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Florida. Her experience ranges from Montessori infant care to college instructor and accreditation consultant. In her “spare” time she holds positions on boards for Saint Leo University, Pasco County domestic violence prevention programs, public school advisory committees, and the local Chamber of Commerce. Sister Roberta’s warm and inviting reflections are peppered with questions for each of us. Spend some time with her thoughts and questions and see where they lead you on your journey.