Clare Murphy, Local Assistant SFO - Toronto, NSW

I asked several of my friends what they thought "Spirituality of the Laity" meant.Their answers were all different, and that makes sense, as our spirituality is our own. One spirituality is not superior to another. It is merely different.

Here are some of the responses I received:

"How I live my life after I have internalised what I have heard, read and encountered."

"Consciousness of God working in my life."

"It's a little flicker...sometimes a flame...and a lot of apathy!

"It's hospitality."

"It's welcoming."

"It's reaching out, listening and helping where we can."

"It's being involved with church."

"It's knowing Christ is in you and trying to see Christ in others."

I like Richard Rohr's definition..."Spirituality is about awakening the eyes, the ears, the heart, so that you can see what is always happening right in front of you."

It was put on my heart to share the personal story of a special family I know and, with their permission, I will share the last three years of their spiritual journey.

Three years ago, the family business failed, through no fault of their own, and the Bank announced that they would have to foreclose on their home. They were absolutely bankrupt and had, at that time, nine children, seven dependent on them. They were both very angry with God, so much so that when they read the gospel story of the "Fig Tree", they decided to put a curse on their house, so that the Bank would not get the money they wanted.

During this time Anne (not her real name) had two miscarriages, although she had never had one during her previous nine pregnancies. She cried out to God, "Why?", and received the answer, "Life cannot grow under a curse." She wept bitterly, repented and sought forgiveness. They broke the curse. Eventually, the house was sold, and the Bank received its money.

Anne has gotten over her initial anger. She realises it is not God's fault, and that this is a period of faith-testing, and they will be deeply blessed. Anne fell pregnant again, and gave birth to a beautiful daughter, who is now thirteen months old.

Their material possessions were taken, but they are very blessed in all their ten children. However, her husband is still angry, and, although he is still going to church and is a Eucharistic minister and outwardly is coping, his wife knows that he is just "hanging in there". He is being honest with his spirituality.

Anne stands on the Word of Isaiah 54:13 for all her children: "All your sons shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children." She knows God is their teacher. She reminds Him often if she thinks any of them need a gentle nudge.

The eldest son has a degree in Christian Counselling, and the next son has volunteered seven years' missionary work with Youth With A Mission (YWAM).

Anne has a very personal relationship with Jesus. She has always prayed, but not always listened. Now she does both.

Every day, she makes time to spend with the Lord. It may be only ten minutes on some days, a treat to have half-an-hour, and the occasional luxury of an hour - and this, from a woman who has little ones still at home!

She recognizes that as a wife and mother it is her duty to pray for her husband and family, and she does.

Perhaps, Anne is not your typical lay person, but her deep faith, peace and love, touch all who come in contact with her. Just listening to her story inspires me and prompts me to be more generous with the time I spend in quiet prayer and meditation.

You cannot help but be touched by the love and unselfishness of this family. They are a terrific example of "preaching the gospel at all times and occasionally having to use words".

Lay people need a challenge! We need to challenge one another!