Conference: "Walking with
God in Our Wounded World"
Speaker - Father Paul R. Fagan,
Fr. Paul is retreat director here at the
Passionist Spiritual Center. He is filling in for Fr. John Duffell who had
to cancel due to the World Trade Center tragedy. For more, click
here to see Fr. Paul's talk from last year.
Outline of Talk
- God Is With Us
- (Began by playing the Bette Midler song, "From a
Distance".) I liked the song from the beginning; but lately
I've found a problem with it. It's poor theology, since it places
God, and the goodness of life, at a distance, with God as merely an
observer. In fact, God is with us.
- Yet, the World Trade Center tragedy might make us wonder: Is God
really that close?
- We've seen the face of evil but that is not the stuff of everyday
life. We have other, more personal concerns, such as bereavement
or relationships or lack of purpose or the futures of our children or
the choices of our futures.
- Humility Teaches That We Are Related to Something Bigger Than
- My talk's title has to do with the spirituality of living now.
It ties in with your retreat's theme of humility. We tend to see
ourselves as autonomous, as needing no one else. Humility teaches
us that we are not alone, that we are related to something much bigger
- Fr. Ed Beck, a Passionist, wrote a book, his memoirs. He had
started out to go to Wall Street, looking to become a millionaire,
living on Central Park. But he had to deal with wounds as an
adolescent, deaths of friends, his mother's brain tumor, etc.
These things humbled him. But God was with him.
- My own experience: My father was fired and told me we had to move from
a good town (with a school I loved) to Philadelphia (with a worse,
boys-only school). My father did not complain about his
misfortune; he did not need to disparage others to make himself feel
- Some years later, my dad got leukemia and was hospitalized. I
visited him frequently although I was in the seminary. I tried to
do all I could for him. One day he became angry and had to be
restrained. I asked what I could do; I said I had done all I
could think of. He said, "You didn't pray with
me." So I prayed the Lord's Prayer, slowly, so he could keep
up. I noticed that, when you say that prayer word by word, it
brings different images to mind, images that you miss when you recite it
(quickly) by rote.
- We Must Let God Be With Us.
- Many of us haven't gotten to the point of letting God be there with
- Look at your own lives, your own struggles, you own wounds. To
make sense of them, consider Christ's invitation to us. See him in
the center of your pain.
- (Closed by playing the song, "You are by My Side.")
This song gets the theology right: God is here with us.
- At the time my father was in the hospital, I did not think about
praying with him (even though I was in the seminary) because at that
age, life was about me. I didn't want to be in a hospital,
much less deal with a very sick father. As I matured, I began to
see that life is not about me, but about my relationships with others
and with God.
- If we have to do it alone, it won't work. Humility gives us the
opportunity and means to include others in our lives.
- Recommendations for Monday as we re-enter the workaday world, which
now has changed. It's difficult, because this retreat is quite
different and special. (You can go to chapel here in your
pajamas!) When you get back to the real world, it's easy to forget
the benefits you gained at the retreat. How to keep the retreat
- Spirituality is faith lived out. You can help yourself with
continual prayer (relationship with God); with attention to your
relationships on a regular basis.
- Example: in this order we pray the Passion each Friday at
3:00pm. We stop our work, think of the Passion, and pray.
Ref.: John: Greater love hath no man than this . . .
(The notes of this outline were taken by David
G. Price. They were wordprocessed by Patrick Lyons.
These notes may not be reproduced without the written permission of the
This page was last edited on December 30, 2001 by Patrick Lyons.)