Have you ever thought of having coffee with a priest, a pastor, or anyone who takes care of your spiritual growth?
If you answered no, that is fine. No judgement at all. Like you, I never thought of that, too.
We always think that our spiritual life is a once-a-week thing only. Going beyond that – even the thought of having coffee with your spiritual mentor (do we even think of having one?), never crossed our mind.
Until Fr. Bob McConaghy graced a Feast At Home Live Engagers segments one Sunday. Fr. Bob graced all three Feast At Home sessions with a breeze, you must have felt that the given time should be longer.
As one of Feast Bay Area’s Spiritual Directors, author of two books (Closer and Deeper: Finding God’s Grace in Every Season), Fr. Bob looks forward to meeting many people and have a cup of coffee with each person. A priest’s lifeblood is to be with people; not hearing confessions hurts. It’s torture to Fr. Bob. To him, it’s like going to heaven without the inconvenience of dying.
To say that he’s a shepherd without sheep just gave me a different feeling. Here is someone who wants to do what he was called to do, yet couldn’t.
Yet that Sunday at Feast At Home, Fr. Bob was the source of hope. I clung to every word and wisdom. When a tear fell on my eye, I knew that my longing for my spiritual dose hit its core during this pandemic. Though I hear the Mass online on Sundays, I never admitted that it doesn’t suffice even if it’s acceptable.
Nevertheless, the time that Fr. Bob spent with the Feast At Home Live Engagers segments on that Sunday proved that once this is over, I need to fall in line to have a cup of coffee with this wonderful priest.
Here are some of the wisdom on that Sunday coffee with Fr. Bob McConaghy:
A Vocation is a Discernment
Fr. Bob wasn’t the terrific kid. He never went to Mass for four years after being slapped by a priest on his 8th grade. Arrested at 15 for breaking and entering, Fr. Bob felt he brought shame to his family because everyone in the neighborhood knows everyone. Eventually, a priest intervened and he came back to the faith.
The priest’s intervention led him to going to the seminary. According to Fr. Bob, he does not have that kind of Hollywood approach to the priesthood. It was really through God’s Providence that he became a priest.
He’ll never agree with you that he’s a celebrity priest. Rather, if you feel blessed with your encounter with your spiritual mentor (be it a priest, a pastor or pa preacher), that is “sanctifying grace”. It’s not about the person; it’s the Holy Spirit in them speaking to the Holy Spirit in you.
Consequently, Fr. Bob says, “A vocation is a discernment; over a period of 8 years for a priest. The day the bishop laid hands on my head, up until that time, was still a discernment. To others who ask me, ‘When did you decide to become a priest?’ I tell always them, ‘Today.’”
“I Don’t Know Where to Go Now” is Normal
When asked what to do at these trying times, with people feeling lost or have nowhere to go, Fr. Bob says it is normal to feel that way. But don’t let that feeling make a decision for you about the future. The best way to approach this is really one day at a time.
When you lost a job or if the business closed , ask the Lord to give you the grace of opportunities. You’re a talented person. The Lord has a plan for you. Have the sense that even if you don’t see your community, you are not alone. Don’t give up hope. Hope is a virtue that you have to wait in the darkness.
Fr. Bob says there is going to be a great thirst for God post-pandemic. We all need to prepare to support each other in any way we can. For Fr. Bob, he prays that he gets the chance to continuously be a part of the shepherd work.
Allow Your Prayer to Be Less Formal
Nowadays, Fr. Bob’s advice is to be be deeply in touch with your fears and with your emotions. Allow to feel those intensely, but at the same time, realize the virtue of hope. This hope has to be lived in a little bit of darkness.
Fr. Bob also added that you really need the intimacy that comes from being with our Lord and not feeling that you have to produce. “When you’re out of work or you’re just getting back to work, or you’re at home with your family, there’s this strong temptation to see your worth in what you produce, that ‘I got to be doing something,’” he says.
Quiet time is a good thing in terms of deepening the intimacy with out Lord. It really gives us an opportunity to be almost like a monk!
Here’s Fr. Bob’s instructions on how to pray during the crisis:
1. At the end of the day, excuse yourself from the family.
2. Go to your bed. Find a comfortable chair. Light a candle in front of you and simply say, “Come, Lord Jesus” (this is based on Matthew 5: “Come to me all of you who are weary – full text”)
3. Allow God to refresh you. Connect with Him by getting relaxed. Breathe in for the count of 5, hold it for 5 seconds, breathe out in the count of 8.
4. More than physical, use your faith and your imagination that what you’re taking in is God’s love for you. You’re holding that love for 5 seconds. As you breathe out, imagine that that love is surrounding you. As if Jesus is saying, “Nobody’s gonna harm you.”
5. Allow yourself to remember the good things that happened during the day that you were most grateful. Thank Jesus for that.
6. Next, allow to remember the least good that happened. Experience that moment again. Don’t try to fix it. Rather, say a prayer of thanksgiving to Jesus because He was there. Ask Him, “Jesus, did you ever have a day like this?”
7. Then say this prayer: “Lord, I take both these moments and I give them to you. Do anything you want with them.” This a generous gift to the Lord that will be rewarded with a good night’s sleep.
8. Blow out the candle. You’ll be at rest.
With this prayer during these quiet times, intimacy takes place. Intimacy really means saying to another person, “Into me see. See my happiness, my guilt, my anxiety.”
In return, the Lord says, “Into Me see how much I love you, how much I forgive you. How much I understand what I am going through. I’m actually with you all day. You can tell me these things during the day.”
Lolo Kiko on Prayer
As previously mentioned by Pope Francis, he says he does his night prayer after a tiring day in the chapel, where the Holy Eucharist is. “I’m too tired to even open my book. So I just think of Jesus in the tabernacle looking at me with great love. When I do that, I usually fall asleep. But after 20 seconds, I wake up. I don’t feel guilty. I know Jesus was looking at me.”
Just like Lolo Kiko, allow your prayer to be less formal. Instead, make it core on core, heart to heart. Be totally and completely yourself. Open your heart to the Lord. Let your prayer be honest (don’t edit!).
Prayer will deepen your faith life. Fr. Bob assures us, “He’s gonna get your through this. He really is. Trust Him.”
Fr. Bob claims that the first day when we’ll all be together again is explosive. I look forward to that day. I will never forget to bring my cup.
Thanks to my co-Feast At Home Live Engagers Jerom, Jacob, Rina, Beth, and Louie.
Learn more from Fr. Bob (and Fr. Michael La Guardia) weekly at Bibliakonia, Thursdays at 8:00 PM on the Light of Jesus Facebook Page.
Catch the three Sunday interview of Fr. Bob McConaghy on the following links: