“The Word of God is Volatile”

 

“The word of God is volatile.  It is unpredictable.  It produces a zeal that can be a little embarrassing.”

I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard the priest at Mass yesterday.

“Yes,” I thought to myself.  “It certainly is. I can’t believe I am writing a blog in the public domain  about my spiritual journey.”  Those of you who know me, know that I’m a very private person and I rarely talk about such things even “in person.”

Yet, over the past few years, I’ve had an amazing journey.  I didn’t intend any of the journey and I certainly didn’t plan to share about it.

Let me start by sharing with you what was going on when I really put on “my walkin’ boots.”  Over the past decade, our family has weathered many serious illnesses.  Actually, to say we have been innundated by illness probably wouldn’t be an overstatement.  We have dealt with preterm pregnancies and the NICU, neuropathy, cancer diagnoses, diabetes, heart issues, neck injuries, concussions, blood disorders, multiple surgeries, epilepsy, dyslexia, and much more.

Over these years, when I would go to pray, I often felt like I would come before the altar of the Lord and fall “flat out” and face down in front of Him because I had no strength to stand.  I had no words to say.  I was too exhausted to even process thoughts.   I was empty and deflated.

Sometimes I wondered if it could even be considered praying – to drag myself before the Lord and then just say nothing at all.

It was during one such very difficult stretch a couple of years ago, that I came across a prayer card stuck between the pages of a book I was reading.  I had received it while I was on an Ignatian retreat in college. It is called the “Suscipe.”

 Suscipe

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,

my memory,

my understanding,

and my entire will,

All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.

To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.

Give me only your love and your grace,that is enough for me.

                                                            –          St. Ignatius of Loyola

I took it out and prayed it.  “What could I lose?” I thought to myself. I didn’t really feel anything at all the first time I prayed it.

I prayed it again a few days later.  “I think I’ll just hand it all over,” I thought to myself.  “God knows, I really am not doing a great job of handling all of it myself.”  So, I prayed the Suscipe, envisioning myself literally handling all of my burdens over to Him.

It felt good.  I felt lighter.

I decided to try to pray it every day.  I didn’t really know that God would even care to receive my weak prayers but I decided to say the Suscipe every morning on the way to work.

Things started to happen.  Just saying the prayer left me feeling comforted.  After saying it, I seemed to have renewed energy and peace.  Some days, it literally felt like an infusion of energy.  Things started to fall into place. I started to meet people in all areas of my life whose friendships would enrich and sustain me.  I also started listening for God more.

I have come to realize that this is an incredibly powerful prayer.  In speaking with a Jesuit friend recently, I learned that this prayer is more than just a prayer of words.  It is an offering of the full and total person to the Lord – mind, body, and spirit.  When we pray this prayer, amazing things happen.  Just try it.  You’ll see.

Ignatius-Suscpie

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Join me on my faith journey

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In the past few years, a lot of life has happened and I’ve done a lot of walkin’ on my faith journey. I hope you will walk along with me as I journey on.

I was looking at the calendar today and saw that St. Teresa of Avila’s feast day is fast approaching on October 15th.  She’s one of my favorite saints.

Let me tell you how we first met.  Here’s what she said:

Nada te turbe,
nada te espante;
todo se pasa,
Dios no se muda.
La paciencia todo lo alcanza.
Quien a Dios tiene nada la falta:
solo Dios basta.

Oh, wait.  Let me translate:

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

OK, I know this all sounds strange.  Let me tell you more.

I first heard this excerpt from St. Teresa’s poem, “Nada te Turbe,” a year ago today.  I had never really known much about her prior to this.

On that day, I learned that my father’s kidney disease had progressed and that he would soon need dialysis. He was completely opposed to dialysis but, without it, he would die.

I tried to convince him that dialysis would be okay but he would hear nothing of it.  So, I went to church to pray. I prayed that, if it was God’s will, that my dad’s kidneys would get better so that I could have him around a little longer.  I prayed so hard.  It felt like “life-or-death” praying.

When I got home from church, I opened an e-mail that my father, who didn’t know I was at church praying for him, had sent me while I was there. It was the link to a beautiful musical setting of the “Nada te Turbe” on YouTube.

The words of the song seemed to be a direct answer to my prayer at church.  “Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you.”  I was so disturbed and frightened.  When I heard these words, I felt such a sense of peace.  The next line kind of scared me more though – “all things are passing.”

“Oh no,” I thought to myself, “there’s my answer.”  “All things are passing.”  Yet, over the weeks to come, when I prayed about my father, I still felt such peace.  A peace that seemed to say that everything would be okay.

Over the next couple of months, I kept seeing excerpts from this poem everywhere – at work, on Facebook, on the internet, and on the brochure shelves at the back of our church.  Every time I would see the poem, I would get such a sense of peace.

After a few months, my father returned to the doctor.  The doctor was surprised by the lab results.  He asked my father what he had done.  My dad asked him what he meant.  The doctor said his kidney function had not only not gotten worse, it had improved.  My father said, “we all prayed.”  Today, my father is still hanging on at the same stage.

In my heart, I feel that God heard my prayer that afternoon and asked St. Teresa to comfort me.   Now, when I pray, I always ask her to remind God of my prayers too.

Nada te Turbe video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMiyHknj3Rg

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