Interruptions open us up to the face of God

Are We There Yet? by Fr. Frank Freitas Are We There Yet? by Fr. Frank Freitas

As a project to mark the Year of Faith, Catholic Register Books has just released Are We There Yet?, a book by Fr. Frank Freitas intended to help us discover who we are and why we are here. What follows is an excerpt from the book.

The story is told of an elderly monk who lived in the hills of Italy. This monk led a very solitude and prayer-filled life. He had never left the walls of his monastery. He prayed every day that someday he might be able to see the face of God.

One day, his superior asked him to go into the village for supplies. He resisted, reminding the superior that he had never been outside the walls of the monastery. Yet he went, though determined to only get what supplies were on the list and then to return and seek the face of God.

As he arrived at the village gates, he met a blind man who said to him: “Pardon the interruption, but can you help me?”

“Oh no,” said the monk, “ask another.”

He went along his way, got the first item from his list and moved on to the next item when a young boy approached him, filled with hunger, and said to him: “Pardon the interruption, but can you help me?”

“Oh no,” said the monk, “ask another.”

The next item was checked off his list and he came to the final item when all of a sudden an elderly woman came forward in obvious disarray and said to him: “Pardon the interruption, but can you help me?”

“Oh no,” said the monk, “ask another.”

He returned to the monastery by evening and said to his superior: “I got everything on the list, but I never want to go into the village again.”

“Why?” asked the superior.

“Well every time I tried to do something someone came and said: ‘Pardon the interruption, but can you help me?’ I will never see the face of God that way.”

Interruptions! They are part of our daily lives. We plan things, rent things, schedule things, but nothing ever works out exactly as we plan — because of interruptions. But somehow we get things done on our list, so maybe there is something to these interruptions? Can anything good come from an interruption? Maybe God can work through them?

As the disciples, filled with fear, were locked in a room (John 20:19-29) Jesus interrupted them. “Peace be with you.” But they were frightened. Jesus asked them: “Why are you frightened and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself, touch me and see.” They were shocked, distracted and interrupted, but the interruption allowed them to touch Jesus.
In our lives can anything good come from an interruption? How do we handle them? Our lives are filled with interruptions. We see them as annoying little obstacles in the middle of our pathway. 

We are so busy looking for our car keys that we miss the three year old who needs a hug.

We are so busy working on that essay for school that we miss a younger brother who needs to chat.

We are so busy preparing supper that we miss the teenager who needs a parent’s guidance.

We are so busy with our hobby, work project or personal growth that our spouse’s needs are not met. 

To say “I can’t” or “I don’t want to” or “it’s not convenient” is just a choice, a choice not to love. But if we are truly making our life about the race for Him — the desire, determination, dedication and devotion to serve God — then we should consider these annoying interruptions as opportunities to show Him that we will embrace the opportunity to see His face. We will embrace every opportunity to share His love as we sidestep our own wants to realize the needs of others and learn how to love another by doing so; actively doing exactly what we were called to do: to be His love for each other (1 John). “I have come to know Him.” There is the learning curve. Do we take the time to get to know the Lord, even in our interruptions?

One of my heroes was the man who served as my principal in high school. Fr. Michael Cundari, a priest of the Congregation of the Resurrection, was a real inspiration in my becoming a priest. He was a joy-filled man. He loved “his vineyard.” He loved being a priest. He loved being an educator. He loved being around young people and helping them discover their direction, purpose and calling. He had a saying which provided a framework to his life and his ministry. It is the sign that hangs on the wall in my office, as it did his, as a reminder of how both things and people impact each other in such a dynamic and inspiring way.

If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character.

If there is beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home.

If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation.

If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.

It all begins with a willingness to work through interruptions, to change ones’ mind, to want to help one another and to embrace each other enough to change our experiences. Interruptions can be seen as vehicles for growth. Vehicles make our journey easier and more enjoyable. That vehicle can be a great blessing.

It is in the choice and in the movement of actions that the realization of better choices about the things that distract us are found. This recognition in itself holds the power to move hearts, grow love and change the world. The willingness to deal and grow because of interruptions brings about righteousness in heart, character, home and nation.

(Fr. Frank Freitas is the pastor at St. Mary of the Visitation Parish in Cambridge, Ont. Are We There Yet is published by Catholic Register Books. To purchase copies, see the ad on this page or call 416-934-3410.)