June 10, 2021
B. Eric Rieger
Sacred Quest Spiritual Direction & Coaching (Extension Ministry)
Scenic South District
To Be A Saint
Psalm 92:1-4, 12-15 (NLT, New Living Translation)
1 It is good to praise the Lord
and make music to your name, O Most High,
2 proclaiming your love in the morning
and your faithfulness at night,
3 to the music of the ten-stringed lyre
and the melody of the harp.
4 For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord;
I sing for joy at what your hands have done.
12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
13 planted in the house of the Lord,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,
15 proclaiming, “The Lord is upright;
he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”
The psalms are expressions of prayers and worship and we, often, use them to that end. Psalm 92 is certainly no exception. It begins with a focus on expressing gratitude to our God for God’s unfailing love and faithfulness. It ends with declaring that: “The Lord is my rock!”
If God is unfailing love and faithful, then it means you and I can truly count on God. And the metaphor of the Lord being a rock means God is stable and foundational. Again, we can count on God. In our rapidly changing world, to be able to really count on God is such a gift. In v.4, the psalmist expresses excitement and joy for all the Lord has done on his/her behalf. As we continue to live in liminal space and time, may we so experience God’s unfailing love and faithfulness that we will be thrilled and sing for joy because of what the Lord has done.
“To be a saint,” writes Ronald Rolheiser, “is to fueled by gratitude, nothing more and nothing less,” (The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality, (New York: Doubleday, 1999), 66). It is easy for us to take what God continually does on our behalf for granted because of all the competing demands and pressures of life, not to mention all the incessant distractions.
As a spiritual director, I have learned a spiritual practice, The Examen, that helps us to stay in touch with our gratitude. The practice was developed by St. Ignatius who wrote The Spiritual Exercises. The examen focuses on what he called “consolation” and “desolation.” Simply put, consolation is whatever aids us in connecting with God, ourselves, others, and creation.
Desolation is simply what disconnects us from the above. Intentionally practicing the examen will help us stay in touch with our gratitude for all that God does.
“The person with a grateful heart appreciates the gratuitousness of everything in life. Nothing is taken for granted. My very existence is a gift. I did not create myself. There is no way that I could have earned or deserved or merited my human existence. Everything I have is a gift,” (Albert Nolan, Jesus Today: A Spirituality of Radical Freedom, (New York: Orbis, 2006), 113).
The following are some simple examen questions that can be asked of ourselves and for journaling, our families sharing together, small groups, etc. (Taken from the incredible book, Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life, Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, and Matthew Linn):
For what moment today am I most grateful?
For what moment today am I least grateful?
There are many other ways to ask the same questions:
When today did I have the greatest sense of belonging to myself, others, God and the universe?
When did I have the least sense of belonging? (You may substitute connection for belonging).
When did I feel the most alive today?
When did I most feel life draining out of me?
When was I the happiest today?
When was I the saddest?
What was today's high point?
What was today's low point?
When did I give and receive the most love today?
When did I give and receive the least love today?
Like the psalmist in Psalm 92, we express praise and gratitude for all consolation—all that God has done and continues to do on our behalf. And we offer prayers of petition and intercession for all desolation.
Faithful and Loving One, our Rock, we do offer praise and thanksgiving for how you continually care for us and our loved ones. Open our eyes to see you in all the big and little gifts that come to us daily to sustain and nourish us. Open our hearts to be filled with your love. And strengthen our wills to share your love with the world. For Christ’s sake, Amen.