“When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
Reflection by Caitlin Wolford, Urban Catholic Teacher Corps of Boston College
Praise can be a wonderful—or difficult—expression to accept. It feels nice to be appreciated, noticed, and needed…but it can feel even better to give and not receive. When it’s your faith that drives your actions, your works will be authentic and you will find the intrinsic motivation to dig deeper and to serve more secretly. When your actions are controlled by righteous deeds that beg for attention, you will soon lose sight of how (and who) you are being called serve.
I’m sure my community members can attest: While living in an intentional community with 17 others, it is difficult to do anything in private. Someone is in the family room while you’re making a phone call; somebody else is in the bathroom while you’re trying to take a shower…the only time during the day that you’re not surrounded by the community is when you are in your classroom—and even then, you are encircled by your students! Although it is nice to be surrounded by loving individuals, you may feel that your actions (and inactions) never go unnoticed.
In the midst of busy, demanding schedules and community expectations, it’s important to reflect on how you spend your time—and how you can restructure your time to make more room for humble service and heartfelt prayer. It may be as simple as waking up a few minutes early to sneak into the kitchen and make the morning coffee, or cleaning the snow off of your neighbor’s windshield. It may involve putting down your phone before bed and saying an extra prayer for those who are experiencing difficulty in their lives. There’s something about making God’s love felt and not seeking the praise for your own gain that makes such endeavors warm and worthwhile.
Guide me as I walk by faith and not by sight.
Allow me to trust in You in moments when I step out
of my comfort zone to faithfully serve You and live in solidarity
with Your people. For in this moment, I know no reward
that could ever compare to the everlasting reward
that is your kingdom in heaven. Help me to
hear Your call and do Your will.
Focus on: Social Justice
As part of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, what better opportunity to intentionally show others the mercy of God than during the Lenten season? Even more so, challenge yourself to live out a message of mercy in secret. Delve deeper into these works at USCCB Jubilee year of Mercy.
Humble thyself to secretly serve. Complete random acts of kindness in your intentional or greater community. Become involved in at least one Spiritual and Corporal Work of Mercy and truly dedicate yourself to it—while no one is watching.
This reflection is part of our Lenten Series – Download the Lenten Guide Here