A long time ago – when there were kings and queens and castles and kingdoms – there was a particular kingdom that was very, very, very, noisy.
It was filled to its borders with the continual shouting of people, the pounding of hammers, the squawking of animals, and the crying of children.
One year the young prince, who had grown up loving all of this commotion – declared that for his birthday – he wanted to hear the loudest noise in the world – even louder than Arrowhead Stadium after a touchdown. . .
So the royal decree went out that at precisely noon on the day of his birthday – all the citizens of the kingdom would gather before the palace balcony and shout at the top of their lungs – for one minute – to produce the loudest noise in the world.
In the far corner of the realm, however, one old woman found the decree would give her a chance at rebellion.
She did not like the oppressive royal family, and certainly wasn’t going to give the young prince what he wanted for his birthday.
She told her husband that when everyone else gathered at the palace to shout — she would merely open her mouth and pretend to shout.
Well, she also told her best friend, and her husband told his best friend – and they in turn told their families and friends – and all thought that this act of rebellion was a great idea –and all thought they would be the only one’s NOT shouting at the top of their lungs.
And so right before noon on the day of the prince’s birthday – the whole kingdom was gathered before the palace balcony. And as the clock struck twelve – the kingdom, for the first time in anyone’s memory – fell completely silent. And the young prince heard not the loudest noise in all the world – but the greatest sounds in the world. . .
For the first time in his life – the prince heard a bird singing. . .
The creek rippling by . . .
The wind blowing through the trees.
And instead of being upset by the decree not being obeyed — the prince wept for joy!
Jesus said to his disciples, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest for awhile.” Come away from the shouting of people, the pounding of hammers, the squawking of animals, and the crying of children. Escape the noise of the crowd—————— in order to hear and be refreshed and renewed—– by the voice of God. . .
And remember – Jesus was saying this long before radio and television and cell phones and video games and cars and horns and sirens — and all the other stuff we hear non-stop — day in a day out.
Come away—— and be refreshed.
As Joseph Campbell – who was a professor of literature and comparative religion once said: “You must have a place to which you can go in your heart, your mind, or your house, almost every day – where you do not owe anyone anything — and where no one owes you – a place that simply allows you —- to blossom into something new and promising.”
Where is that place for you?
Because IF you are going to grow in holiness, which is what God desires of all of us – we have to have such a place – in order to hear and be refreshed and renewed by the voice of God.
For me – that place — is in the car – where I seldom have the radio on – and enjoy a bit of peace and quiet as I come and go from many places throughout the course of the day.
That place is in my house — where I never have the radio on, and seldom have the television on.
It is in the yard where I work and sit and read – and occasionally take a nap. . .
It is on daily walks in the neighborhood in the early morning and late at night.
That place is specifically a chair in my bedroom where I have everything I need to spend some quiet refreshment time with the Lord – my prayer book, the Bible, my rosary – and usually the cat in my lap.
It’s why I faithfully take a day off a week, and go on retreats and vacations — would anyone want a priest to lead their parish who was not doing his best —— to listen to the voice of the Lord????
Come away and be refreshed. My challenge to you — is for you to create such sanctuary places in your life – so that you can hear not the loudest noises in all the world –
but the greatest sounds in the world – like silence – and the still quiet voice of God speaking to you. . . so that you can be refreshed and renewed . . .
As an incentive to create such a place in your home, which remember is the domestic church – I have two things to give you today –
First – a prayer card of St. Patrick – who is pretty important to us around here – with the reminder on the back to HUG in the coming year:
Grow in holiness.
To be united in what we say and do.
So that we can become great as individuals and as a parish.
Second – is a little gift from Bishop Johnston who is initiating within the diocese listening sessions to hear what direction you think this diocese needs to move in. He asks you to pray for the success of these sessions and invites you to attend one — the prayer card also has those sessions listed. . .
And I say, thank God — we have a bishop who is going to listen to us first — before he decides what he needs to do to best serve our needs.
So take the prayer cards, create a sacred space in your home – and place the cards there as a reminder, and perhaps as an invitation – “to come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”
Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for – this week’s: Matthew Moment.
So as I told you last week, while at Subiaco — one morning I woke up and decided that I did not want to be around teenagers for the rest of my life.
I also would look around the dining room and notice that I was a good 20 years younger than anyone else – so the future was looking kind of bleak.
Because of the schedule I had to keep in the school, I very seldom got to participate in the prayer life of the community which I had been drawn to.
And, in a place you would expect would be filled with silence to be able to hear the voice of the lord calling to you — I lived next to one guy who practiced the banjo every night – no doubt, he needed the practice, but did not really show much improvement – and lived beneath I guy who loved the St. Louis Cardinals and was listening to baseball games every night.
Of course this was in an un-airconditioned building where if some sneezed two floors away — you heard it.
So, I decided to leave – and went home to southern Indiana to think about things for awhile.
I quickly found out that living with your parents after being away from home for almost 20 years was not the ideal place to figure things out –
So I came to Kansas City — where a classmate from seminary, who did not go on for ordination – lived – and offered me a place to live and found me a job.
I worked for a year at Stroud’s – here, north of the river – doing landscaping and maintenance – and then landed my teaching job here at St. Patrick’s.
After that year, I knew I could be happy just teaching — but also thought there was something still missing in my life ————- so I made an appointment to see Bishop Boland.
So we are not quite finished with my story. So come back next week – when we launch into the reading of John’s Gospel for the next 5 weeks — and you can hear a little more about me.
Enjoy your week — and be sure to seek out a little quiet. . .