Feeding My Soul with Agape, Counsel, and Mystery

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With agape

Lord Jesus, when I think about your hands stretched out on the cross, I think, too, about your sacred body laid out upon the altar of sacrifice. Whenever I participate in a Eucharistic celebration, I am reminded that your love for us truly is agape—the total gift of self. You stop at nothing to give us everything we need for full and abundant lives.

And this is the love that you have told us to share with one another. It is no airy-fairy thing existing in other worlds or outer dimensions. Right here and right now, your love needs to be written in our own flesh, just as it was written in yours at the first Eucharist. It needs to show in the blood we shed and the tears we cry for every single human being whose life we have the chance to improve.

As a catechist, I need to let your love show in the sweat I pour into each lesson I prepare and present to the children you have entrusted to me.

Good and gentle Jesus, Lamb of God, Bread of Life, Wine of Our Salvation—grant that I may so live that others see in me the traces of your own generous outpouring of love. Amen.

With counsel

Counsel, our rich Catholic tradition says, is a gift of the Holy Spirit conferred in the Sacrament of Confirmation. Counsel is the silent voice of God within us, directing us during times of decision making.

Lord Jesus, counsel is also a gift that was evident during every major and minor turning point in your life on earth. Through the gift of counsel, the Holy Spirit moved you to leave behind forever your old life in Nazareth and go to Judea to receive John’s Baptism.

Through it, the Holy Spirit prompted you to respond positively to your mother’s intercession for the newlyweds of Cana and to the foreign woman’s request to heal her daughter.

Blessed with the gift of counsel, you knew you had to say yes when Zacchaeus invited you to his home for dinner.

O Holy Spirit, always active and alive in the life of our Lord Jesus, please enlighten me as I review the first half of this learning year with my students. Show me any changes I may need to make in my teaching goals and plans for the remaining months. This I ask through Christ my Lord. Amen.

With mystery

“Life is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be lived.” What Thomas Merton once said about life is just as true about the Sacraments.

Almighty and eternal God, I will never understand completely how or why Sacraments “work.” I know only that they do. Truly, Sacraments grant us a greater participation in your life, and they plunge us more deeply into your love. If we open ourselves to their mysterious power, they touch our hearts and stir our souls. They renew our fervor and restore our energy for going the extra mile that our Lord Jesus always spoke about.

A Sacrament cannot be analyzed like a math problem, studied like a microscopic organism, or diagrammed like a sentence. A Sacrament can only be experienced—like a wonder of nature or a work of fine art.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your gift of the Sacraments. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, may I always approach them with reverence and never take them for granted. Amen.


Sister Alice Ann Pfeifer, CSA, has been a Sister of St. Agnes for over 30 years and a religion teacher and writer for the past 20 years. She has a master’s degree in pastoral studies from St. Joseph’s College of Maine.

This article was originally published in Catechist magazine, December 2009.

Image Credit: ShutterStock 2510744

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