Examen Me

I’m not sure if any of you are familiar with this site based on the Ignatian Examen, but I’ve been using it daily for the past few days and have found it to be a real help in doing my daily Examen.

The site is Examen.me and it basically lets you journal your Examen—and you can even save what you write for review later if you want. I plan to look back over a week’s worth at week’s end and do a week-long examen using this to guide me. It’s free but you have to register for an account.

Give it a go. There’s even some offshoots of a traditional examen that uses the psalms and the gospel reading of the day to help your focus.

The Examen is Ignatius’ way of teaching us to look at the rhythms of our lives through a review of the day. We can see where we had energy and where we were lacking in energy. Over times we even notice the patterns of our lives for good or for bad. A personal example: I noticed once that whenever I hung out with a particular group of people I’d get sucked into their drama and begin to gossip with them. I didn’t stop hanging around them, but I forced myself to not fall into the gossip trap and even tried to change the subject when it would head down that road. I wasn’t always successful–sin can master us sometimes–but I got better over time and we even found new ways to spend out time as a group because of it. I also found a pattern of loving writing and providing direction for students and other young adults. It is where I feel the most awesome, vibrant presence of God…in those moments of quiet and in those moments where I can most listen carefully for where God is lurking and guide others into a better relationship.

That’s what the Examen does for me. It points me in the path of where I can see God working in my life and leading me to joy.

I hope you join me on your own journey.

And when you do, I hope it is there that you will fall in love:

As Fr. Pedro Arrupe once prayed:

“Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in a love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings, what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.”

Let us pray today that we will be able to fall in love with God and be led into the heart of where we are most called to be the best version of ourselves.

What the Jesuits Have Meant to Me

As many know I attended Fordham for both undergraduate and grad school. I was always very impressed by the Jesuits and they helped me form an adult faith that I treasure today. Today is the feast day of St. Ignatius Loyola and so, I thought I’d tell a few quick Jesuit stories of how they saved, changed and continue to renew my faith over these past 25 years.

I’m 18 years old about to head to college. I go to my parent’s church and meet with a few of the priests there. I tell them I’m going to Fordham and they roundly object. They suggest transferring to St. John’s or to some other non-Jesuit school. Later the same day, a homeless man comes to the church steps while I’m sweeping rice off of the steps after a wedding. One of the associate pastors comes out and shoos him away. I’m embarrassed by this, but thought that he might have had a history with the priest. But as we enter the church, the priest tells me the following words:

“I can’t stand these blacks always looking for something. Now I’m no racist, I just don’t like blacks.”

I think at that moment, I decided that Catholicism was no longer going to be for me. I would head to Fordham, (especially since this horrible man thought that was such a bad idea) but I pretty much thought it was impossible for me to live the gospel if these priests couldn’t even get it right.

Then my freshman year at Fordham, I was asked by not only one but a number of priests to help out at POTS (Part of the Solution) soup kitchen. I saw their dedication to the poor, to those who had nobody. It renewed my faith and made me begin to admire many of these Jesuits who truly lived the gospel message.

Fast forward a year later and the Jesuits were murdered in El Salvador. I remember Fr. Jim Keenan, SJ who lived in the dorms with us, speaking candidly about it. By now, I had become an acolyte at the 10PM mass and often would see the University President, Fr. Joseph A. O’Hare, SJ there. He would be a frequent presider at our late night mass and he had gotten back from El Salvador and was visibly shaken.

“It was horrible” he told me when I asked about his trip there. “We know who did this, but there’s not much we can do about it.”

I remember asking him one further question, “So are the Jesuits just leaving El Salvador now?”

His response was so inspiring. “Not a chance. We’ll have guys lined up around the block volunteering to go. We can’t afford to leave there now. We HAVE to stay there and show them that evil will never have the final word.”

I remember being a lot more engaged with mass that night. I don’t remember much more than that, but I do remember how dedicated they were to the people of El Salvador. I started reading about Ignatius more that year and took a few theology and philosophy courses with some great Jesuits. Bill Dych, SJ introduced me to Karl Rahner and Eschatology. Gerry McCool, SJ taught me Plato and Aristotle with great enthusiasm. Norris Clark, SJ taught a wonderful class on the human person. I remember writing an autobiographical style paper for the final stating how I was much more than my broadcasting skills and that my work with campus ministry taught me much about that. It was clearly the beginning of God’s prodding me towards ministry (it only took me 12 more years to respond to that call!).

But mostly, it was the retreats that I attended with John Mullin, SJ that made the biggest difference. Padre, as we called him, was very tender in his care of the students. He mentored me well and often allowed me to think of myself as someone who could really serve God simply by being present to another. He introduced me to one of Anthony DeMello’s guided meditations that led me to really consider whether I was following my true calling. I continue to do it today now and again. We had a wonderful retreat team experience my senior year. And many of those folks I still consider treasured friends today.

Jesuits have been my spiritual directors for years. Jim McDermott, SJ was serving as an editor at America and he gave me lots to think about. Rocco Danzi, SJ later would get me to discern what I really wanted in ministry and where I might have wanted to do that. Today Br. Chris Derby, SJ keeps me honest to that calling here in Buffalo and the Jesuit community at St. Michael’s led me through the 19th Annotation last year, deepening my experiences of the exercises.

I’ve continued doing Ignatian based retreats since those college days and Charis Ministries in Chicago has been a great partnership for me. We worked with them at Busted Halo and have now brought them to Buffalo where the students and young adults have responded well to the initiative.

So today, Jesuit friends and collaborators, I know that I have a lot to thank the Jesuits for. And so do many more. For Jim Martin’s, great books and Rick Curry’s dedication to the handicapped. For those who gave their lives for justice in Central America and Africa. For Jesuits like Tom Reese, SJ who always makes people think and Mark Mossa, SJ and Mark Massa, SJ two great scholars who enjoy a great meal and a great debate and often are confused for each other. For Campus Ministers, like John Bucki, SJ here in Buffalo and especially those who run retreat houses and retreat ministries. Thank you for all you do.

Most especially, thank you for your great spirit of collaboration with the laity. For bringing Lauren Gaffey, Becky Eldridge and Pam Coster at Charis Ministries and Jenene Francis with the Midwestern Province into my life as friends and colleagues. I could not be more grateful for these women, women who do much to spread the message of Ignatius and of Jesus Christ.

Gratitude is one of Ignatius’ central tenets. He even starts his great prayer the Examen with it. So today friends, thank a Jesuit on their great feast day and bring with that gratitude a dedication to seeking God in all things as Ignatius would say.

May our great saint, Ignatius of Loyola and all the Jesuits continue to pray for us. Amen.

Am I Enough?

As many know, I’ve been discerning whether I should become a deacon or not this year. The “19th Annotation Retreat” I participated in was very central in helping me think more deeply about this and allowed me to be centered on where God is leading me at this time.

But the biggest factor in helping me decide was the experiences I had with several of the UB students this year.

Some students on the alternative spring break were helpful on both ends of the decision. Two of the students, Amanda and Matt were very excited at the prospect of me being a Deacon.

“Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh My God! Mike you’d be so great. You’ve got to do it.” Amanda shrieked. “I want you to do it just so I can call you Deek!”

Matt followed up with, “Well, maybe we need some kind of word that combines Deacon and Mike together. I’ve got it…

Dyke!”

If ever there was a deterrent …

Zach, along with Ryan and Lauren (who recently got engaged), were more sedate about their feelings. “No matter what you choose, Mike, you don’t make a bad choice here.” Ryan astutely pointed out. “The fact that you’re a married man who even GOES to church is a big help to a lot of us already.”

Zach, who sees me for spiritual direction (Or do I see him?) also pointed out that being free to be who I am is what is most important. He asked me pointedly if I thought “being a Deacon might change (me),” make me less open or more open to others? Would being a Deacon make me perceived by others as different? Am I already perceived as being different simply because I am a campus minister and so, would being a Deacon matter? Does it change my ministry for better or worse?

These students sure give me a lot to think about.

But one of the sticking points for me came from one of the medical students, CJ, who is really bright and always enthusiastic. I had thrown a small “after finals party” in the med school lounge for the first year’s who just finished their gross anatomy final. We began talking about his classmates and the test they just took. Most admitted to me that they thought they did OK. Nobody thought they rocked it or had miserably failed. Most were simply happy it was over and they were happy to share a few fleeting moments over pizza and wings with their classmates and even with me. A side note: Most of the medical students aren’t regular church-goers. Yet, I have found all of them (and I do mean all of them) to be profoundly aware of their own spiritual experience. How they express that or choose to express that is vastly unique, it’s different for every student.

But back to CJ, I mentioned to him that just about every member of the class came over and talked with me and spent some time saying how grateful they were for the meal and some even thanked me for my presence throughout the semester.

“It’s just part of my job,” i said to CJ.

“Mike,” CJ sharply said, “This is NOT just part of your job. You’re here because you like being here and because you’ve become concerned about us and who we are becoming as doctors. You got up super early before our first test just to make sure we got a stress guy (pictured right)! Not everyone would go out of their way to do that!”

I blew him off, “I suppose so. You guys have made it easy though! You’re pretty open to having me here. The faculty is also really helpful and I’m glad I can just help them out. It’s kind of helping me decide whether I should go deeper with my ministry and study to be a Deacon.”

“REALLY?” Cj replied.

“Sure, what do you think about that.”

CJ stroked his chin and said, “I’m going to be the devil’s advocate here.”

Mind you when someone says that, they may actually become the Holy Spirit’s advocate!

“Mike, look around. This room is filled with an entire section of medical students. We let them know that ‘Mike Hayes’ from Campus Ministry was going to provide this party and everyone showed up. Why? Because they know you don’t have an ulterior motive. There’s no hidden agenda.”

“Right.” I said.

“But if I had told the class that DEACON Mike, or even FATHER Pat, who they KNOW was throwing the party, I’d bet good money that half the people would show up. It’s just a different vibe.”

“Never thought of that.” I sheepishly remarked.

That moment didn’t make or break my decision. But discerning about that for the next four months surely did. Deacon or not, my ministry doesn’t depend on that.

My ministry depends on me being myself and how I can be an expression of Christ for others. I don’t need to become anything more or anything different unless I think that would actually help me do that.

And becoming a Deacon might actually hinder that for some, but others would argue that my openness wouldn’t bring others to shun me because of my clerical state. I would agree with both statements actually. Some will want no part of me, others wouldn’t care.

But C.J. would later say something that clinched things for me.

“Mike, maybe being a Campus Minister is just enough? You’ve got an important job and you do it well. Just do that and you’ll be fine.”

That doesn’t mean that I won’t ever be a Deacon. Nor is it a slight to anyone else who chooses to be a Deacon. But it does mean that I won’t be one anytime soon. God isn’t calling me there now. But there’s good news…

Sometimes being a Campus Minister is more than enough.

And that’s where God has called me to be for at least another year or two.

So, we have much to decide this year and much work to be done. It is exciting and I am thrilled to really get into the coming semester’s work. Gross Anatomy starts in August and retreats and Alternative Breaks begin not long after that.

It is with gratitude that I remain a layman, a husband, a campus minister and God’s servant. It is all grace and gift and wondrous and I am in the midst of the Holy Spirit with every step I take.

And God’s grace is more than enough for me.

An Imagined Nativity

Imagine if you will, being in that stable and watching Mary and Joseph enter in, telling you of the arduous journey, the hassle of having to come all this way just to be counted. Joseph angrily speaks of the lack of hospitality in Bethlehem, especially by the innkeeper who sent him out to the stables, a place that he called “good enough for the likes of you.”

As I place myself in the story I imagine being the stablehand. Joseph presses a coin into my hand. “It’s not much, but will it insure our stay while she gives birth?” I hand him back his coin and assure him that my meager dwelling is his for no charge. Though married I have no children of my own and so I’m eager to help out. The chance to welcome a child into the world, even one who is not my own, is one to savor.

I run to yell at my boss, the innkeeper, “The least you could do is give them some blankets for the baby, you heartless miser!” That’s the edited version. I’m angry at his lack of welcoming the stranger.

I return with some thin sheets, swaddling clothes, and Mary is grateful. In time Mary brings forth the baby and Joseph hands him to me to clean and wrap as he tends to his wife.

I am overwhelmed by holding the child. He cries and I hold him after taking that first breath of air. He calms down and I hold him closely and when I look down he smiles at me contentedly as if I am enough for him.

I realize that I no longer need to hold another child as it is clear that this child was born not just for Mary and Joseph but also for me.

Perhaps better stated, each child I hold needs to feel the same love from me that this child gives to me.

I hand the child to his father and he lays him in his mother’s arms. They look with wonder, nay more than wonder, at this child. They are overwhelmed too, much more than I am. I place a hand on Joseph’s shoulder. “If you need anything else, let me know.”

Each day I get that invitation to be with this Holy Family and to be filled with wonder. This child born “for the likes of me” in meagerness is all I will ever need. Do I remember my image of the manger and where I am called long after this meditation?

It is January. As the season grows shorter I remember the call. Who will come to my stable today? I wait to welcome and to be overwhelmed by joy.

Between Introvert and Extrovert

Do you hate being alone? Blogger par excellence, Fran pointed me to this piece on the value of alone time and engaging with introversion.

But in today’s world, the solitude required to look inside is less and less valued. So much so it seems many people just can’t “do” solitude. We live in a culture that respects and encourages everything that is not solitude. It promotes constant visibility and getting yourself out there: joining teams and groups, creating bigger and bigger professional and personal networks, attracting hundreds or thousands of Facebook friends and Twitter followers.

Yet, in the ultimate sense, in the terms of “things as they are”, we are alone. We came into this life alone and leave it in the same way. And, in the time in between, we do everything we can to forget our ultimate aloneness—pretending it’s not so.

On ye olde myers briggs indicator, I’m right in the middle between introvert and extrovert (and sensing and intuitive too! I go off the charts on preferring feeling over thinking and perceiving over judging–in short ESFP is my main indicator but I am close to INFP too). I tend to be a “Performative extrovert. Put me in front of people and let me perform and I’m good. Put me in a party and ask me to simply be with people and I’m less comfortable. Put me in a work group with a bunch of people who are aggressive and who only think out loud and I’m done! I lose energy quickly and I crave sitting alone and working out the issues by myself and then coming back and presenting.

After a day of being with students I crave being alone with the dog. The long walk interrupted only by picking up dog poop, even in winter’s blight (maybe even especially in winter’s blight) is one of my favorite times. Even beyond that, meditating in solitude with St Ignatius’ 19th annotation retreat has been powerful for me. Writing this blog is a mix of introversion and extroversion as well.

And yet we all often run from solitude. We even point to scripture, “It is not good for the man to be alone.”. (genesis). That original sin mind you happened because one coerced another and the other did not think about the consequences; they just acted unreflectively.

Perhaps that’s a moment we can all take some time to reflect on? How are we when we’re alone? How do we feel when we are in solitude?

Right now I’m in my friend’s house writing this and there’s noise around us. I like that but also needed some quiet time this morning so I snuck away for a bit. Where do you sneak away to so that you might find a bit of peace? For it is there that you not only find yourself but you also find God.

Our prayer today is in solitude. In the stillness O Lord, my soul awaits. Amen.

Pray for Us Sinners

Have you ever considered all the people that have prayed for you?

Think of those people who ask others to pray for you and those others bringing those prayers to more people.

Think of the saints who have been asked to pray for you and countless others by others.

Think of Mary, who must have countless prayers given to her.

This scene from the movie Superman Returns, kind of sums it up for me. The embedding is restricted (because God forbid someone should share the video) but click this link to watch.

We have had a lot of Supermen and women in our lives who have brought our needs before God. We who are sinners and undeserving of such care and mindfulness of us are simply brought to humbleness by the prayers of the faithful.

I think of the churches and the cathedrals. The buddhist monks and the Jewish people at the Wailing Wall. The Muslims on their carpets. All children of the same God of Abraham–united in prayers for peace and harmony.

Can we give thanks for these prayers by converting our sinful lives into lives of prayer and gratitude to God? God hears our prayers even though we are sinners. Now and at the hour of our death.

We are grateful for the sure and certain hope of God’s mercy and the need for prayer. Today, unite your prayers with those of all the saints and angels who pray unceasingly.

For you and me and for the world.

All the saints and angels…pray for us.

Mindful of Our Sins

I often brush sins under the rug. I dismiss them as weaknesses or things that trip me up. I may even make light of them from time to time. “Well, I guess that’s just my thing that I’m going to have problems overcoming.”

But the spiritual life is all about mindfulness. And that intentionality leads us to admit not merely the fact that we do sin and are sinners, but also, it calls us to consider the alternative.

What might we choose instead of sin? When do we find ourselves becoming sinful? Who do we commit sins with and where do we find ourselves tempted by the things that are all-too-easy for me to choose.

Quite often, I find myself sinful in quiet ways. Inner sanctums that allow me to float away from responsibility. I can fantasize about a great many things that I desire: greed, ambition, wealth–all matters of attractive things. In the dark caves of isolation, it is often easy for me to not see clearly.

It is most often through the community that I am called to notice my deeper desires. Most often, it is also there that I choose rightly. Those I have committed to, bring me to more than a sense of responsibility but rather, a sense of love. This is a commitment that cannot be broken, for to break it would be to deny others publicly.

But how often do I deny privately? How often do I fail to consider the needs of the poor because I’m too wrapped up in my own desires? How often can I not appreciate my wife and my family when they don’t simply do my bidding and require more of me than I would prefer to give? How often can I grow impatient with what I want but not be willing to work steadily for that far-off goal?

Sin grows easily in me. Privately and without much fanfare. I may do a lot of good in my life, but I also collaborate with evil from time to time. I notice these times more vividly now and take them seriously for what they are: denials that God could actually be all that I will ever need.

Our life is the sacred mystery that we are all God desires. God hopes for nothing more than for us to be united with Him forever.

May we not operate in our separateness and may we always call to mind our sins.

What’s God Gotta Do?

Today’s 19th Annotation Scripture is from Deuteronomy:

“But I said to you, ‘Have no dread or fear of them.
The LORD, your God, who goes before you, will himself fight for you, just as he took your part before your very eyes in Egypt,
as well as in the desert, where you saw how the LORD, your God, carried you, as a man carries his child, all along your journey until you arrived at this place.’
Despite this, you would not trust the LORD, your God,
who journeys before you to find you a resting place–by day in the cloud, and by night in the fire, to show the way you must go.”

God’s passion seems to outrank God’s wrath. God constantly tries to inspire the community and offer himself for our protection. Here in Deuteronomy, God claims through Moses that he will fight for them in the new land that he tells his people to occupy. Nobody believes it. The occupied land is inhabited by people stronger and swifter. So they grumble in their tents.

How easily do we give up on God? How often do we not believe that God will be with us in the struggle for justice? How often might we choose to grumble instead of trusting that with hard work we can overcome any obstacle with God’s help?

This 19th annotation retreat is really helping me with my own self-confidence. I feel stronger and more fearless about things without being arrogant about it (I hope!). I’m able to believe in myself more and more and am not always worried about what others think. I’m able to pray more easily in troubled times and seek to praise God in the good times.

Why have I not given God this much time before?

Perhaps in that is the answer to our titled question today? What’s God gotta do? God is already doing. It’s up to notice what God has done and to have the courage to believe that God will continue to do it.

College Students: Competitive or Collaborative?

Amanda Woods, one of the students at UB who I’ve gotten to know penned an excellent commentary in the UB Spectrum recently:

A significant shift happens in college: people who were at the top of their high school classes become average, and everyone is competing for the chance to shine. Only a couple of points can make the difference between excellent and mediocre. Competition becomes natural, and students develop a hunger for statistics telling them how they measured up to others.
I know many people who thrive under competition, but I’m the kind of person who breaks under it, and I know that many feel the same way. Even if my score falls a point below the average, I take it personally and wonder why my classmates are smarter than me.
Intense peer competition may lead some students to believe they don’t belong in college and drop out of classes or college entirely.

Amanda has figured out what took me years to understand: that some of us work better collaboratively, while others thrive on competition, even cutthroat competition. I’d like to say it gets better “on the outside” but that’s not true. In fact it just might get work, especially when a lot of money is at stake.

Friends in the media business, especially those in big markets often say that they wish they were back in a small market with a bit of a higher salary. They loved the work, but hated being poor.

Perhaps there’s an opportunity for spiritual growth here too. What’s the price of your happiness? It might be 3 or 4 extra hours to get another half-letter grade higher. It could be $10,000. But we all have our prices to pay. We all sell at some point–the question remains what did we sell for?

While an element of competition is natural and could be good, it also can be demeaning. One person’s success could breed jealousy in another and instead of being happy for their teammate, they have to try to out do them the next time. That happened to me in a few office environments that I was in before. I knew a ballplayer who I’ll keep anonymous who’d walk into the clubhouse and say “I’m gonna get more hits than all y’all today!” Love the enthusiasm, right? Wrong, he’d also be wishing everyone else to go 0 for 4.

How do we balance staying competitive with maintaining a healthy collaborative environment without it grinding the work to a halt?

Well, I think knowing one’s strengths and the strengths of your colleagues is a great start. Use the Gallup Strengthsfinder as a start and then help your team decide who is best for whatever project you might have.

Students, the same applies to you. Speak up in class when you have something to say. Be quick and bold and beat others to the punch by answering often when you can. Try your best to get the top grade but also balance that with helping the weak link in your class get up to snuff.

The students in the Gross Anatomy Lab at UB are a shining example of this often. They work in teams of 4 or so and each one gets a shot at something. Sure, some are fiercely competitive but others are assertive without being aggressive. I remember one student that first day who was queasy and here entire table rallied around her without depriving themselves of the experience. By the end of the day she was right there with them.

I think that’s what I admire most about many of my ministry colleagues. They are competitive, but compassionate. The bottom line isn’t the only concern, so is how we get there together.

A quick aside, I remember running on the Cross Country team in college (distance running). A friend from another school looked like he was about to drop out–so I slowed my pace down from my usual middle to lower end of the pack, to dead last–with my friend. He needed someone to keep pace with him in the first race and when we got to the last quarter mile, I bolted and left him behind me but not so far behind that he couldn’t finish alone. We hugged at the finish line. I said to him “Next time, if you stick with me through most of the race you should beat me across that line. You’ve got a lot more natural talent for this than I do.” Determined, he got in fantastic shape and we both would finish in the upper middle part of the pack after that.

Today, let us pray that we might be able to be compassionate without being doormats. That we all have something to produce for God’s glory and we also have the ability to do so without crushing people along the way.

Place Me With Your Son

Two sections of Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises are part of my prayer today.

“I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening life in me.” – St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, (23) Foundation: Fact and Practice

The most important qualities in the person who enters into these exercises are openness, generosity and courage. As retreatents our one hope and desire is that God will place us with His Son so that in all ways we seek only to respond to that love which first created us and now wraps us round with total care and concern. -St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises (5)

Am I willing to be placed with God’s Son? Am I willing to go to the cross, perhaps to go even to that humble manger where all is naked and stark and cold?

Am I open enough to others? Open enough to truly accept people for who they are and not what they can do for me? Do I really love others for their sake and not because I want them to like me?

Generosity is a word that I often believe describes me. I give of myself openly and freely. But is there a part of me that I hold back from others because of fear, fear that I might not believe that I am enough to give to others. Perhaps I think that God has not created a suitable gift in myself, worthy enough to give to others?

Courage, to me is key. It helps us to be open and generous because it gives us the ability to believe not without fear, but to believe despite all that we do fear. Courage helps us face those fears and push through them. To face our enemies alone and to stare them down and defeat the power that we have given them over us in the past.

Am I willing to be open and generous and courageous to this time of retreat and prayer? Am I willing to lay in manger with Jesus alongside stinky animals and itchy straw and be filled with wonder for the first time at all that is creation and humanity? Am I willing to be baptized in the Jordan and know that God expects much of me? Can I walk that dark road to the High priest’s house alone, abandoned by everyone I held dear and later face my cross only to further be pierced in the side?

I fear that I may choose wrongly, nay, I know I will choose wrongly sometimes. And yet, God still wills that I am placed with His Son, who forgives the woman about to be stoned for her sins and drives demons out of wild women and raises the dead to life.

So today, place me with your Son, Lord. Take me to the dark places in myself so that I might overcome them. Give me a generous heart to give of myself to others when I think I cannot. Make me open to experiencing all that keeps me from you so that I might understand my weakness. And most of all, give me the courage to face my fears alone, knowing that all I need to do so is to keep my faith in you, as you show me more.