The following post was contributed by Adam Zoeller, theology department chair of Saint Xavier High School in Louisville, KY.
An avid listener of sports talk radio, I enjoy listening to analysis of college basketball and college football on my way to and from work. The updates, statistics and regular phone calls from fans are entertaining. However, during the Lenten Season, I traded my talk radio addiction for an opportunity to talk with the holy men of our Catholic faith tradition that have molded me in my faith formation and modeled exemplary virtue. I now analyze my role as husband, father, and theology teacher instead of arbitrary statistics. I have attempted to answer the Lenten challenge by Christ to “go into your inner room to pray” (Matthew 6:6). My inner room happens to be a 2007 Ford Escape that daily becomes my sacred space to spend time in intercessory prayer, reflecting on the lives of Saints and embracing aspects of their stories as part of my journey.
The story from sinner to saint of Paul of Tarsus is the primary example of conversion. During my Monday morning commute to work, I revisited my spiritual goals and Lenten promises; too often recognizing my shortcomings from the previous week. It is on these occasions that I pray through Saint Paul asking the Lord for the strength to endure my own faults and strive to become an authentic disciple of Jesus Christ. Therefore, I pray for the spirit of constant conversion during Lent so that I may become the best version of myself. Saint Paul, pray for us.
My experience of the Carmelite charism at Saint Francis DeSales High School can be summed up in two quotes by its patron, “Be who you are and be that well” and “Live Jesus.” On Tuesdays, I spend time reflecting on the difficult journey of self-discovery for adolescents. These classic quotes gave me the confidence as a young man in high school to recognize my God-given talents and later inspired me to use them to the betterment of God’s Kingdom. Therefore, I pray for my theology students to recognize and understand their gifts and work towards the common good through devout Christian living. Saint Francis de Sales, pray for us.
On Wednesdays, I recall the best advice I ever got about parenthood which came from my best friend’s dad. Upon him asking me how things were going as a parent of three girls, I responded with, “It’s hard.” He responded with, “If you are doing it right, it’s supposed to be hard.” His affirmation of sacrifice in the creation the Domestic Church is dully noted. Sacrifice is part of our Lenten experience. I embrace and value the sacrifices associated with parenting; yet completely recognize my sacrifice is nothing compared to the countless martyrs of the early Church whose witness laid the foundation of the Church. Therefore, I pray for the courage to be a man of faith in light of the challenges of parenting. Saint Stephen Martyr, pray for us.
Detachment is at the heart of Lent. In 2016, my Lenten mantra was “fast from indifference.” For Lent 2017, I have tried to live a simpler lifestyle; therefore removing the classical substitutions for God (wealth, pleasure, power, and honor) outlined by Saint Thomas Aquinas. Therefore, I pray to “seek ye first” the Kingdom of God through detachment, and the wisdom to hear the providential plan the omniscient God has for my life in the silence of my daily commute. Saint Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.
My daily journey to Saint Xavier High School takes me 20-25 minutes depending on traffic. However, on Fridays, this ordinary, everyday commute in my “inner room” is filled with an amble amount of time for personal reflection. As a missionary to the East, Francis Xavier inspires me to leave my comfort zone, make prayer more routine, and grow in my faith life so that I, too, can take the Gospel message to the unknown. Therefore, I pray for God’s grace for the journey as a husband, parent, and teacher to model my faith in similar ways as these men of virtue. Saint Francis Xavier, pray for us.
About the Author
Adam P. Zoeller is the theology department chair of Saint Xavier High School in Louisville, KY. He earned his B.A. in religious studies and B.A. in clinical psychology from Spalding University (Louisville, KY) and his M.Ed. in educational leadership from the University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, OH).
Adam can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org