This past weekend, many from our community gathered at the wonderful Wynncliff Manor on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan. The weekend was full of prayer, meditations, and discussions focused on living a life at the foot of the cross amidst the busy world, which tied in perfectly to last week’s Mustard Seed “The Sanctification of Work”. It is almost like it was planned that way. Almost. Following Mass on Sunday morning, everyone was content thinking the retreat was winding down. Little did they know that Brad Frias was about to tie the entire retreat together (much like the way a Scooby Doo episode usually ends with the bad guys tied up) with his talk on perseverance titled Nunc Coepi (Now I begin). And so in honor of the retreat, we ahve compiled here several catechism paragraphs pertaining to perseverance. As we reach the last weeks of Lent let us not be discourgared by our failures, each fall let us humbly and bravely say Nunc Coepi, and begin again.
162 Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to man. We can lose this priceless gift, as St. Paul indicated to St. Timothy: “Wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith.”44 To live, grow and persevere in the faith until the end we must nourish it with the word of God; we must beg the Lord to increase our faith;45 it must be “working through charity,” abounding in hope, and rooted in the faith of the Church.46
2728 Finally, our battle has to confront what we experience as failure in prayer: discouragement during periods of dryness; sadness that, because we have “great possessions,”15 we have not given all to the Lord; disappointment over not being heard according to our own will; wounded pride, stiffened by the indignity that is ours as sinners; our resistance to the idea that prayer is a free and unmerited gift; and so forth. The conclusion is always the same: what good does it do to pray? To overcome these obstacles, we must battle to gain humility, trust, and perseverance.
2730 In positive terms, the battle against the possessive and dominating self requires vigilance, sobriety of heart. When Jesus insists on vigilance, he always relates it to himself, to his coming on the last day and every day: today. The bridegroom comes in the middle of the night; the light that must not be extinguished is that of faith: “‘Come,’ my heart says, ‘seek his face!'”17
2743 It is always possible to pray: The time of the Christian is that of the risen Christ who is with us always, no matter what tempests may arise.36 Our time is in the hands of God:
- It is possible to offer fervent prayer even while walking in public or strolling alone, or seated in your shop, . . . while buying or selling, . . . or even while cooking.37