My childhood friend, Oscar, is known for writing supportive and encouraging posts on our Class of 1969 high school Facebook page. He was like that throughout elementary, junior high, and high school, a friend we could count on for encouragement and pearls of wisdom. Every Thursday Oscar posts a nostalgic photo with happy thoughts of the past he labels “Throwback Thursday.” They are usually scenes of he and his brother, classmates, landmarks in our town, and the like. On Fridays, Oscar posts humorous animation gifs and photos of what he did that day like golfing, fishing, or visiting old friends. He labels those “Feel Good Friday.” His postings always bring a smile to my face.
My “Feel Good Friday” begins around 5:30 in the morning when I open my four-volume Liturgy of the Hours. When I started my oblate faith journey as an inquirer and later progressed to candidate, the four-volume set was something I avoided, as it frustrated me to thumb through and struggle to understand where I should be. I shared this with Sister Magdalena, who offered this bit of advice: “It’s not how you do it. It’s that you do it.” Praying without ceasing in tandem with others around the globe motivated me to “just do it” and persistence paid off. I continued using the one volume Christian Prayer and eventually graduated to the four-volume.
Over time, my favorite prayer day emerged. Friday is “Feel Good Friday.” On Thursday night, I look forward to getting up the next day to pray with my global collective group of sinners. I marvel at the Friday Morning Prayer hymns written by Fred Kaan and Albert Bayley. Savoring each line of the lyrics, I reflect on their beauty, power, and magnificence. The hymns prepare me for reflection and an examination of conscience.
The Morning Prayer psalmody begins with Psalm 51, a contrite penitential psalm of regret and atonement. The title is, “Oh God, have mercy on me.” Then, the theme, “Your inmost being must be renewed, and you must put on the new man [self],” Ephesians 4:23-24. I examine my conscience, acknowledge and admit my sins, ask for God’s mercy, and “start over.”
Habits die hard. Sometimes, it seems that every week I ask forgiveness for the same sins. God’s mercy, compassion, and kindness is given to me freely and I am relieved of my suffering. Jesus dying for all of us is an act of grace we do not deserve but it is given anyway. Fridays, I start over anew, putting on my new self.
On my morning walk listening to Lectio Divina on my phone app, I feel a spring in my step and a mental reset. Charged with hope, I feel grateful for pouring out my heart, admitting that I need God’s help to be a better person, plead for forgiveness, and savor God’s grace.
Later in the day, I log onto Facebook and notice that Oscar has posted his “Feel Good Friday” photo, cartoon, or thoughts on remaining positive. A Christian man, he often declares his love of Jesus and how he appreciates his faith. Sometimes, he shows the fish he caught or where he golfed that day. He wishes his classmates happy birthday and posts photos of cakes representing their hobbies and interests. I say a prayer of thanksgiving for Oscar, my friend of 65 years, and I thank God for “Feel Good Friday.”
By Jan Vinita White, Oblate OSB