Prayer Service No. 3: Ordinary Giftedness

Ordinary Giftedness

 

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In the previous reflection, we showed that ordinary persons choose not to pander to the world in order to be noticed, appreciated, or admired. For them, joy is
rooted in the awareness that God, who created them as they are, notices,
appreciates and admires them. Out of gratitude for what God has already given
them, ordinary persons seek to know the richness that they already possess (not
only in terms of talents or skills, but also of personal traits and cultural
heritage) and to nurture them well. It takes time and patience to comprehend
the depths of one’s gifts. Not even a myriad of psychological tests could
enable an individual to know perfectly the breadth of this giftedness. Still,
if we are to heed God’s invitation to appreciate these gifts, we are called to
unearth what is already within us.

But for what purpose do we discover these
gifts? Our present society answers this question with “to be Somebody… not just
anybody… but Somebody.” In our congratulatory culture, a person has to be
“Special” or nothing at all. And because we work hard at being “Special,” we
are told that we deserve nothing but the best. “I am entitled to this and
that,” says the “Special” person, “because I worked hard to get to where I am
now.” “Loser” and “nobody” are the labels that the “somebodies” give to others.

Unlike the “somebodies” of the
world, ordinary persons nurture the gifts which God entrusted to them for a
different purpose. Because the gifts they have are essentially charisms, they develop them out of justice for God – for
we should render to God what is due to Him – and for the sake of the renewal of
those around us. The Fundamental Principles puts it in this way: “The gift you
have received, give as a gift.” All that we are graced with is from God for the
sake of the nourishment of the world.

However,
they do not go through life demanding privileges and entitlements. To them, to
be graced by God is enough of a privilege and to be loved by God for who they
are is already an entitlement.


A
reading from our Xaverian tradition

(In our
formation), one will try to detect every person’s character and temperament,
and his natural and supernatural gifts as well as his weaknesses, so that, with
good balance, measures can be taken to promote the profitable capacities for
which a good inclination has been noted. According to this knowledge of their
condition, everything should be ordered in such a way that success may follow
when the tasks are assigned to each of them, so that the little members of this
whole body as well as the great, the weak as well as the strong, may act in
beautiful harmony and, by doing so and through this body, produce powerful
works. (From the Plan written by Theodore
James Ryken, ca. 1837-38)

A
reading from the Middle Dutch Mystical tradition

Since God,
out of His own goodness, endows the person’s soul with His gracious gift, no
one on that account should dare to exalt himself. No one is so holy as the one
who experiences this grace while, at the same time, is able to bow humbly
before God and all His creation. It is here that God is found; it is God who
occupies that ground. All that a person has to do is to submit himself before
God, who would work with this person as His living instrument and who would
oppose Him in nothing. This is how one obtains steadfast hope and perfect
confidence in the Supreme Good, and the grace of relying uniquely upon the
Giver, not upon His gifts. [From the anonymously written
“The Evangelical Pearl,” ch. 40]

Points of Reflection

  1. The difficulty with recognizing our true
    giftedness lies in the fact that God’s Spirit, the mind of Christ, is so different
    from our own habitual consciousness. 
    What particular “habits of mind” that I live out of get in the way of my
    recognizing the contours of God’s world, and God’s understanding of who I
    really am?
  2. Our weaknesses, as well as our strengths, are
    the outlines of our call.  What aspects
    of my view of myself do I expend energy in attempting to overcome and
    avoid? 
  3. Submitting to God’s will requires of us a
    “letting go” of those ways that we would re-make ourselves in accord with our
    own and the world’s demands and expectations. 
    In the course of my life, how, specifically, have a experienced the
    inability to change or overcome something in myself despite all of my efforts?

 
Click here to download a PDF version of Prayer Service No. 3 

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