26 October 2003

Spitzer on Prayer

This is Fall Family Weekend at Gonzaga, when the families of students are encouraged to come visit, go to classes, meet the professors, and generally find out whether they're getting their money's worth.
Last night, the Newman-Stein Fellowship sponsored a Lord's Day Meal, and our wonderful university president, Fr. Robert Spitzer, spoke to us on the subject of prayer. To everyone's astonishment, he had four points instead of three. He talked about the effects of the Eucharist, inspiration, guidance, and spontaneous prayers. He really likes to talk about spontaneous prayers. Spontaneous prayers are the short prayers you say when you're frustrated, or fearful, angry, need to forgive someone, or don't understand. His favorite is the classic, "Thy will be done." It sums up all the spontaneous prayers, but there are others he likes to use as well. When he's frustrated, "I can't handle this. You take care of it." When he needs to forgive someone, "You're the Just Judge. You take care of it." Have you ever been asked for advice that you weren't sure you were qualified to give, but gave anyway, and then woken up at 3am thinking, "Ack! They could have taken what I said this way and this way or this way and gotten it all wrong! What have I done?" Apparently, Fr. Spitzer has, and I know I certainly have. He suggests, since there's usually not a lot that can be done at 3am, praying this: "God, whatever harm I may have done, bring good out of it."

The other message Fr. Spitzer had for us last night that I really remember was about guidance. God has sent the Holy Spirit as our Comforter and Guide. Sometimes, when we are in a very difficult situation which should be causing us to be anxious, frustrated, stressed, or upset, we don't actually feel this way. Instead, we are calm and peaceful, but we think we ought to be upset, so we force ourselves to be anxious, frustrated, and stressed. Fr. Spitzer said that the peace that we feel when we are in a difficult situation is from the Holy Spirit, and that we should not push it away.
How many times have you been in that situation, of pushing away the gift of peace and comfort that the Holy Spirit was trying to give you?

I love Fr. Spitzer. He's a wonderful, intelligent, engaging speaker who doesn't talk down to his audience and yet is understood by all. He seems to be able to grab hold of the issues which are common to human experience, and address them in a meaningful way. He says this is the Holy Spirit too, giving him the words that we will hear.

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