Yesterday, I attended an afternoon Advent retreat hosted by Adam and Lori Ubowski and the Catholic Young Adults from the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee. I feel like I'm still recovering from Thanksgiving, NCCYM and trying to pull off a few new Advent traditions with youth ministry at St. John's and by the time 2:45 p.m. rolled around, I just wanted to crawl back into bed.
Plus, between columns and programing, I felt like I had done nothing BUT write and think about Advent. The second candle hadn't even been lit, and I was advented-out. I crammed to come up with 172 more words for the Island Packet column due that afternoon and reluctantly trudged out the door.
I sat down to hear Father Chris LeBlanc begin the retreat and realized that in all the rushing of the past few weeks, I hadn't thoughtfully prayed or listened for God yet in this season. Sitting there, without a pen or paper or laptop open for brainstorming and scheduling, I finally stopped thinking about how to explain or encourage others to engage Advent and actually think about the state of MY soul.
In The Soul of the Apostolate by Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard, OCSO, he states:
"Is there anyone who does not know St. Bernard's saying, to apostles [apostles here is used to describe all in ministry, both lay and consecrated]: 'If you are wise, you will be reservoirs and not channels.'... The channels let the water flow away, and do not retain a drop. But the reservoir is first filled, and then, without emptying itself, pours out its overflow, which is ever renewed, over the fields which it waters. How many there are devoted to works, who are never anything but channels, and retain nothing for themselves, but remain dry while trying to pass on lifegiving grace to souls! 'We have many channels in the Church today,' St. Bernard added sadly, 'but very few reservoirs'."
As I work through the "second first year" at my new parish, the temptation to be seen "doing" is very strong. I feel like it's important to be at the office for "regular office hours" and not be seen just sitting in Church when I should be working. However, the relief and peace that came from taking time sitting and listening to a talk about my own spiritual growth (NOT the growth of a ministry or program, which is not the same thing) reminded me, once again, of the importance of being a reservoir.
For what good is it if you have the best ministry events calendar in the world, but in the process lose your soul?