Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

8/10/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

How often do we live our lives in the fourth watch of the night? Our fears so cripple us that we are unable to even recognize the Lord, the One who is always there, always coming to guide us on His way. He invites us to respond in faith as well. When we do, faith helps us to overcome our fear and walk into freedom.

We can miss a real encounter with the Lord if we think that this account is only about Peter and the disciples - something distant which happened over two millennia ago. The fact is this story is meant for you and for me - for the here and now! We live much of our daily life in the fourth watch of the night, at the time just before daybreak. At the end of a night which seems like it will never end. Our daily lives seem to be lived in the midst of tumultuous waves of struggle. We are often filled with fear and crippled as a result and unable to see the Lord right there, on the horizon of hope. This story shows us the way to overcome fear through faith.

We live our lives now in Jesus Christ and we are at home in the Boat of the Church. We can always find Him in the fourth watch of the night, if we choose to respond in faith. When we turn our faith into a verb, we too get our sea legs, as they say in the nautical culture. We also learn a new way of living - and of loving. Fear simply becomes a field of choice, an occasion for trust. Even in the fourth watch of the night, there is a bridge between fear and freedom, it passes through Jesus who tells all who will fix their eyes upon Him - Take Courage; it is I; Be Not Afraid.

We live our lives now in Jesus Christ and we are at home in the Boat of the Church. We can always find Him in the fourth watch of the night, if we choose to respond in faith. When we turn our faith into a verb, we too get our sea legs, as they say in the nautical culture. We also learn a new way of living - and of loving. Fear simply becomes a field of choice, an occasion for trust. Even in the fourth watch of the night, there is a bridge between fear and freedom, it passes through Jesus who tells all who will fix their eyes upon Him - Take Courage; it is I; Be Not Afraid.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

8/10/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Fourth watch, trust, living faith, St Josemaria Escriva, Opus Dei, Friends of God, Christian struggle, spirituality, fear, faith, struggle, St Peter, recovery, renewal, temptation, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - I am going through some really difficult struggles on every front in my life, family, work and unfolding ministry. Many of the people I care about are facing the same kind of challenging situation within their own context of living. The Gospel passage read at today's Catholic Liturgy (Matt. 12: 22-36) is one which is familiar to many of us:

"After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. "It is a ghost," they said, and they cried out in fear.

"At once Jesus spoke to them, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid." Peter said to him in reply, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." He said, "Come." Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, "Truly, you are the Son of God
."(Gospel of St. Matthew 14: 22-33)

One of the mistakes we can make when he hear these familiar stories at Mass is to stop listening because we have heard that story so often! When we do, we make a huge mistake. We fail to allow the Lord to speak to us personally. 

One of the greatest influences in my Christian life is St. Josemaria Escriva. He is the founder of Opus Dei. I am not a member of the work, it has no place for deacons, but his writings - and the spirituality which is revealed through them - have influenced me for decades.

St. Escriva regularly encourages us, in his inspiring writings, to enter into these Gospel stories. We can do that by actually placing ourselves in the scene, as one of the participants, and allow the Lord to speak to us through the story. For example, in Friends of God we read:

"If you wish to get close to Our Lord through the pages of the Gospels, I always recommend that you try to enter in on the scene taking part as just one more person there. In this way (and I know many perfectly ordinary people who live this way) you will be captivated like Mary was, who hung on every word that Jesus uttered or, like Martha, you will boldly make your worries known to him, opening your heart sincerely about them all no matter how little they may be."

We can miss a real encounter with the Lord if we think that this account is only about Peter and the disciples - something distant which happened over two millennia ago. The fact is this story is meant for you and for me - for the here and now! We live much of our daily life in the fourth watch of the night, at the time just before daybreak. At the end of a night which seems like it will never end.

Our daily lives seem to be lived in the midst of tumultuous waves of struggle. We are often filled with fear and crippled as a result and unable to see the Lord right there, on the horizon of hope. This story shows us the way to overcome fear through faith. It invites us to live differently, to walk on the waters of daily life by dynamic, living faith.

The Jewish people, living under Roman rule for so long, had adopted a number of Roman practices. The Roman practice of dividing the night into four watches or divisions of three hours was one of those practices. This was particularly important for those engaged in nautical activity. The Fourth Watch was between 3 A.M. and 6 A.M.

It is also important to always try to place these wonderful Gospel accounts within the context from which the passage for the Gospel reading of the day is taken. The disciples had just returned from experiencing the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves.

They had seen the Lord take what little bread that they had, multiply it, and give it back to them - so that they could feed the very crowd they had suggested be sent away. They knew that he was able to work miracles - and that they had been invited to participate in this extraordinary act of love, by simply giving the little they had. After it was all over, they even collected up twelve baskets full!

Now, He just wanted to pray, to commune with the Father. So He placed them in the boat, which the early Christian Fathers saw as an image of the Church, the new Ark of the New Covenant. It was the "fourth watch of the night", the last hours right before dawn.That "fourth watch" always included the darkest hour.

The winds and sea raged and they became horribly afraid. Their fear was so crippling that they did not even recognize Him as He came toward them. They thought that the Word Incarnate was a ghost. "Take Courage, it is I; do not be afraid." He spoke with such reassurance and tenderness.

How often do we live our lives in the fourth watch of the night? Our fears so cripple us that we are unable to even recognize the Lord, the One who is always there, always coming to guide us on His way. He invites us to respond in faith as well. When we do, faith helps us to overcome our fear and walk into freedom.

That is what we see happening with Peter in this wonderful account. He responded in faith to the voice of His Lord. When he kept his eyes focused on Jesus he was able to do what seemed to be impossible. When he walked by faith, he walked into the freedom that comes from Jesus, the Lord of the winds and the sea.

We live our lives now in Jesus Christ and we are at home in the Boat of the Church. We can always find Him in the fourth watch of the night, if we choose to respond in faith. When we turn our faith into a verb, we too get our sea legs, as they say in the nautical culture.

We also learn a new way of living - and of loving. Fear simply becomes a field of choice, an occasion for trust. Even in the fourth watch of the night, there is a bridge between fear and freedom, it passes through Jesus who tells all who will fix their eyes upon Him - Take Courage; it is I; Be Not Afraid.

-----
Deacon Keith Fournier is Founder and Chairman of Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance. A married Roman Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, he and his wife Laurine have five grown children and six grandchildren, He serves as the Director of Adult Faith Formation at St. Stephen, Martyr Parish in Chesapeake, VA. He is also a human rights lawyer and public policy advocate.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for February 2016
Universal:
That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity.
Evangelization: That married people who are separated may find welcome and support in the Christian community.



Comments


More U.S.

No Catholic or other Christian Should Support the Candidacy of Bernie Sanders Watch

Image of Senator Bernie Sanders, a candidate for the Presidency of the United States of America, denies the fundamental Human Right to Life of children in the womb.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Legalized abortion on demand is an open rejection of the entire ethic of being our brothers (and sisters) keeper. There can be no enduring lasting solidarity upon which to build a secure future in a culture that kills its own children and calls it a right. No ... continue reading


Mardi Gras' several names and traditions: How is it celebrated around the world? Watch

Image of Mardi Gras is famous for its colors, masks, beads, food, floats and more (Pixabay)!

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

People around the world celebrate Fat Tuesday each year with regional traditions - but did you know it is a celebration with roots in Christianity?  LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Fat Tuesday" is English for the French "Mardi Gras," and is traditionally ... continue reading


7 Fun facts about Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras celebrations Watch

Image of Mardi Gras first became a holiday in 1582.

By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday; it comes directly before Ash Wednesday. "Mardi Gras is a raucous celebratory affair that serves as a final shebang before the 40-day abstinence of Lent," explains The Huffington Post. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Amidst all ... continue reading


605,000 undocumented immigrants to receive driver's licenses in California Watch

Image of California driver's licenses do not bestow any federal benefits to the recipient. State sources say the law is intended to make California roadways safer.

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Thanks to a new California law known as AB60, which took effect on January 2, 2015, the Department of Motor Vehicles, or DMV has handed out 605,000 driver's licenses to undocumented workers. It is estimated that 1.4 million migrants will receive licenses under ... continue reading


Center for Medical Progress releases another Planned Parenthood video despite injunction Watch

Image of Pro-life CMP stands against abortionists NAF (imgsuccess).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

After ousting illegal actions performed by Planned Parenthood clinics, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), and its founder Daniel Daleiden, have been ordered to cease further distribution of illegally-obtained Planned Parenthood footage. Unfortunately for the ... continue reading


Huff Po Gestapo, beats down Trump, First Amendment with editorial billy club Watch

Image of Huffington Post has found a way to turn the First Amendment into a billy club for their PC police duties.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Liberal mouthpiece, The Huffington Post (not to be confused with an actual news organization) is pandering to liberal readers by posting an addendum at the end of every story about Donald Trump. The addendum labels Trump a "racist" and a "serial liar." LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Lower Your Nets For a Catch! We Are All Called to Evangelize Watch

Image of Lower your nets for a catch

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The New Evangelization is meant to bring about an authentic renewal of the Church so that she can then undertake a new missionary outreach to the whole world. Only a Church fully alive in the Lord and filled with His Spirit can carry out such an evangelical ... continue reading


'Church ladies' finally force phony priest in Los Angeles to authorities Watch

Image of Erwin Mena  was arrested by Los Angeles police for allegedly impersonating a Roman Catholic priest and on suspicion of grand theft (Los Angeles Times).

By Mary Rezac, CNA/EWTN News

For months, Erwin Mena donned vestments, called himself "Padre," and convinced Southern California Catholics that he was a priest, police say. Los Angeles, Calif. (CNA/EWTN News) - He was good at it, too, reportedly. He attended seminary in El Salvador for a time ... continue reading


Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis to Meet in Cuba in Historic Move of the Holy Spirit Watch

Image of Orthodox Christian Patriarch Kirill and Catholic Christian Pope Francis

By Deacon Keith Fournier

This meeting of the Primates of the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church, after a long preparation, will be the first in history and will mark an important stage in relations between the two Churches. The Holy See and the Moscow Patriarchate hope that ... continue reading


'Deeply disturbing': ANOTHER Planned Parenthood video has been released by the Center for Medical Progress (Warning: Graphic Content) Watch

Image of Yet another undercover video featuring the horrors of Planned Parenthood's illegal acts has been released (Leda Oreskovich).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released another video featuring Planned Parenthood officials casually - and even happily - discussing the revolting practice of murdering infants in the womb then mercilessly cutting them to pieces for profit. Meanwhile, after ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Take this thought provoking Stations of the Cross survey
  • St. Scholastica: Saint of the Day for Wednesday, February 10, 2016
  • Stations of the Cross - Fourth Station: Jesus meets his mother HD Video
  • Palm Sunday HD Video
  • 10 important things to consider during Lent
  • Daily Readings for Wednesday, February 10, 2016
  • Can you answer these four challenging questions about Lent?

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Kings 8:22-23, 27-30
22 Then, in the presence of the whole assembly of Israel, Solomon stood ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 84:3, 4, 5, 10, 11
3 Even the sparrow has found a home, the swallow a nest to place its ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 7:1-13
1 The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 9th, 2016 Image

St. Apollonia
February 9: St. Apollonia, who died in the year 249, was ... Read More