This tremendous lover

I’ve been thinking recently that my prayers have been said with a sad heart, in a rushed and cold way and automatically.  Maybe this happens to all of you or maybe not.  One thing I do know is that we must never despair.

An unwavering confidence in God’s loving guidance and action to lead us to Himself and in His infinite mercy which will forgive all our infidelities is of capital importance.

Winter bleaknessWhen the sense of God’s presence is gone and all facility in making acts and persevering in silent prayer disappears, we can see ourselves so clearly that one may be quite overwhelmed at the sight, and, losing confidence in God, may give up the spiritual life and seek consolation in creatures. If one falls at this stage, one will probably fall very badly. In fact, one must go to extremes if one is to intoxicate oneself sufficiently with pleasure to drive out even temporarily the remembrance of one’s need for God and one’s horror of oneself. But even if we fall, we must return with confidence to God. Where sin abounded, grace did more abound  (Rom. 20). God understands our position far better than any human being, and always is ready to forgive.

The soul must persevere in this arid prayer and in the service of God despite unwillingness and our feeling disinclined, with absolute confidence and reliance upon Him. Nothing gives Him so much glory and pleasure as these dry acts of devotion to His will. This is a time of great merit for the soul and great profit for the Church. There is nothing of self-seeking in such service.  We must persevere.

The joy of SpringIf we persevere in prayer despite the gloom of winter, the spring will come eventually. And we will hear the voice of our lover:

Arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one and come. For the winter is now past, the rain is over, the flowers have appeared in the land. (Cant. 2, 10-12) And we can then say, with song in our hearts, with the Spouse in the Canticle: Behold, my beloved speaks to me … My beloved to me, and I to Him who feeds among the lilies, till the day break and the shadows retire … (Cant. 2, 10-16)

The grace of prayer, which formerly had caused such aridity in the soul, now extends its reign, and its effects become noticeable – it extends to the other powers of the soul, and distractions cease, it touches the very heart, and fills it with peace and joy  and love. A new life opens before the astonished eyes of the soul, and one counts the past years of winter as nothing.

Then we truly love, we are truly loved, and we not only know our love, we know our tremendous lover.


24 Responses to “This tremendous lover”

  1. 1 Ehawee October 2, 2009 at 11:31

    That winter bleakness picture is lovely – you can just see the light waiting behind the mountains and ready to illuminate the dull atmosphere! How meaningful!
    A really thought provoking reflection.

  2. 2 Cinzia October 2, 2009 at 12:41

    This post is very very heartening! So positive and full of truth.

    Thank you Gabriella.

    It was particularly needed after your previous post “Babilonia” and other articles here and there that I have been reading lately. All about the very scary and disheartening state of the world.

    Two links in particular have shaken me to the core this week: the one about the Christian martyr in Sudan so brutally decapitated by extremist muslims – gosh! Three days later and I still feel sick in the stomach when I see that picture in my mind’s eye.

    The other is Andrea’s link showing the possible “masonic” temple in San Giovanni Rotondo, supposedly a church dedicated to Padre Pio. What a horrendous looking edifice! It is really disturbing. Whether or not it is indeed a masonic temple, it is however the ugliest church ever conceived and built. The most disheartening thing of all is the crucifix (if one can even call it that) over the supposed altar. It is so appalling I am without words ….

    Dear God our Heavenly Father … may I never ever forget again what a truly loving, merciful and compassionate Father you are – a tremendous lover indeed.

  3. 3 Raman Chakravorthy October 2, 2009 at 13:55

    Still, God hasn’t promised any of us a “Rose Garden” in this life. You’re right, sometimes we feel more like we’re in the Garden of Gethsemane where Our Lord prayed in deep agony the night before His Passion. But it’s true though that when misfortunes or tragedies hit us, we can withstand them better with God’s help. And with day-to-day problems, Catholic prayers can help turn mountains back into molehills.

    Our Lord taught us to pray “And Lead us not into temptation,” so that we can resist temptations against His will when they hit us. Through prayer we are better able to resist the every day temptations such as envy, hatred, bearing grudges, greed, lust, and selfishness. These negative emotions don’t bring us any real joy or peace of mind.

    For those people in our life who continually rub us the wrong way (and we all have them! Bosses, co-workers, family members, etc.), prayer certainly gives the grace to deal with them better.

  4. 4 Griff October 2, 2009 at 14:00

    Oh yes, I feel that darkness very often. It is difficult, and is exactly how you describe with wanting to take solace in things that we can only see or feel, to be tempted by the wide and easy path, to see the world purely materially, etc. These are times when emptiness threatens us, and reminding ourselves of the wholeness of God is a good remedy.

    As the words from Canticles are beautiful and a good reminder of God’s presence, so too are the stars, mountains, the music that praises Him, the example of the Saints and the beauty of the human soul that perceives all that He reveals to us. Remembering such things in times of aridity can make us feel like a deer that yearns for running streams once again.

  5. 5 anne bender October 2, 2009 at 14:54

    I have also been thinking about dryness in prayer lately, and how hard it is to continue when the words suddenly feel meaningless. Yet, when we persevere through the dryness, it is then that our words of prayerful love are the most meaningful! As I bent down to tie my daughter’s shoelace this morning I thought “here I am in the dust”, yet in that small act of love and service to my daughter, no matter how close to the earth I was, God rejoiced, because my lowly act of love and service to my daughter was really an act of love and service to God who lives within her.

    I love your springtime picture, the blue flowers are gorgeous!

  6. 6 ginny October 2, 2009 at 16:11

    I agree with you on praying with a sad heart. The concerns of the political situation here, sickness, loss of employment, relationship problems, all lend to a heavy heart. Aside from all of that, the winter is especially difficult for me. When Spring comes, it is as if a dark cloud has lifted. Through all of this, I cling to the unseen presence of God, otherwise, I would never be able to cope.

  7. 7 Torkel October 2, 2009 at 16:40

    Ginny, cling cling with all your might.
    And go visit the Holy Sacrament whenever possible and offer all your sufferings and worries to Him.
    Believe me, it helps.
    I’ve also been through hell and once the winter was through, well.. I knew that Our Lord had held me by the hand throughout and my heart couldn’t stop singing His praises and.. another thing: something good is there waiting for you, something good always comes out of darkness..

  8. 9 Mary Nicewarner October 2, 2009 at 16:48

    Yes, this happens to me,too. As a matter of fact I am sitting here in the desert waiting on the Lord. Glad to know that I have such good company;)

    Humor aside, I loved your post. Arise, make haste, my love…
    is one of my favorite passages. We are so blessed. It lifted my heart to read this today. Thank you.

  9. 10 Karin October 2, 2009 at 21:17

    I think anyone who practices their faith must experience these bouts of aridity in prayer. They are never pleasant but as you say in your post, there is great grace and merit in them. Whenever I find myself in the midst of one of these trying times, I do find the temptation to slip into more worldly things-especially television. Now that I am able to identify what is happening, I take myself over to my parish’s Adoration Chapel to sit with Jesus. Even if I can’t get out any prayer while there, I just sit there before Him for awhile-He knows my heart and that’s all that matters. It is time much better spent. If it has been awhile since my last confession, I try to do that as well.
    If it is true aridity and not anything I’ve put in the way myself, I look at it as God’s way of exercising my faith so it can become stronger.
    Thanks for this post Gabriella. It is good to know we are not alone in this struggle.
    God Bless!

  10. 11 Cinzia October 3, 2009 at 01:20

    This post gets more heartening by the minute! Thank you so much everybody – such wise and wonderful words. I feel uplifted today. This is what this blog does to me so often.

    I am on the way to being a renewed person.

    And I have learnt to “cling” no matter what ….

    Wish you all a wonderful weekend.

  11. 13 Lexie October 3, 2009 at 09:35

    Like Cinzia I have to thank you all. You’ve no idea how much this post and all your comments have helped me. Thank you Anne, yes I am in the dust. And thank you Griff, Torkel, Mary and Karin. Thank you most of all, Gabriella.
    It’s a very very bad time for me – I’m in love with a muslim and he wants me to convert to islam 😦 Either I convert or I lose the love of my heart 😦
    Lord help me, please.

  12. 14 Cinzia October 3, 2009 at 11:00

    Dear Lexie, I will pray for you some very special prayers! Wow, you are in a very difficult situation. But pray hard and non-stop, and our Lord will show you the way.

    Deep down, if you have faith, your love and belief in the one true God and in Jesus Christ will never go away. No one can touch your heart and your soul … no matter what the exterior looks like, or what demands are placed on you. Only your heart knows where it truly belongs and in Whom it has placed its implicit trust.

    God bless you always 🙂

  13. 15 Karin October 3, 2009 at 12:18

    I will join my prayers with Cinzia’s. I pray that God’s will be done in this dificult and I am sure heart-wrenching situation. May our Lord be with you and send His Holy Spirit upon you so you will know and have the strength to do whatever He calls you to do.
    God Bless!

  14. 16 Lexie October 3, 2009 at 16:10

    Thank you all. I’ve just been to speak to a priest. We sat for two hours! I hope God gives me the strength. I’m not leaving His Church. I hope I can do this.
    I’ve decided to sit at the computer now and read all the prayers written by St. Francis of Assisi as it is his feast tomorrow – Oh, St. Francis, let me imitate your simple but profound spirituality and help me love God above all else.

    • 17 Griff October 3, 2009 at 16:59

      Lexie, you have done exactly the right thing in talking to a Priest at length. You are worthy of our admiration for bearing your cross in such a way. You are an example to us all. I will pray for you at Mass today.

    • 18 Karinann October 3, 2009 at 20:25

      I am so glad you went to speak with a priest about this. My prayers will continue to be with you for the strength to continue along this difficult, but worthwhile path.
      May God bless you, our Lady keep you, and St Francis whom you have been praying to intercede for you.

  15. 19 Cinzia October 3, 2009 at 22:10

    Good on you Lexie !!

    Your strength and your courage are ADMIRABLE!!!

  16. 20 Kelly Lininger October 4, 2009 at 07:32

    Very strong and powerful post…


  17. 21 Jackie Parkes October 4, 2009 at 13:57

    I can relate to all of this post!

  18. 22 Kieran October 4, 2009 at 20:45

    Here is a beautiful old Gaelic prayer:

    As the rain hides the stars,
    as the autumn mist hides the hills,
    as the clouds veil the blue of the sky,
    so the dark happenings of my life hide
    the shining of Thy face from me.
    Yet if I may hold Thy hand in the darkness, it is enough.
    Even though I may stumble in my going,
    Thou dost not fall. Thou dost not fall.

  19. 23 nazareth priest October 4, 2009 at 21:22

    You describe the spiritual battle so well.
    Something that has helped me is the realization that we pray in order to be open to God’s Revelation, not so much to speak to Him. We pray to allow Him to speak to us.
    In these times of difficulty, dryness, darkness, whatever, we are challenged to cling to Him, Alone.
    There is no other way.
    It is the way of Saint Therese, the “Way of Spiritual Childhood”.
    She teaches us this with such great wisdom and compassion.

  20. 24 Pablo H. November 16, 2009 at 23:10

    Dear Gabriella,

    Excellent post.

    I pray with sadness in my heart. The sadness does not come from the freemason infiltration of Holy Mother Church, or from daily seeing much evil rampant in society.

    My sadness comes from seeing my fellow Catholics become accomplices of the adversaries of our Lord. Those who have no problem attacking the Holy Priesthood, who support abortion, same sex marriage, new age paganism, all the while using Church property and money to spread these errors.

    My sadness comes from seeing my fellow Catholics attack those of us who pray the Rosary, even those who claim to be Traditionalists. In my whole life I have been told it is the Devil’s job to attack Christ and His Church. It has surprised me to see so many ‘Holy People’ do the Devil’s job for him.

    The Freemasons and followers of Satan have their conclusion; they will kneel before God and say “Jesus is Lord”.

    In your prayers, please include those who are trying to pray, but are being attacked for doing so.

    May God grant them the grace to perservere.

    When we pray the Holy Rosary, we are walking in the garden of Heaven. Every Hail Mary is a rose we offer to our mother. Slow down; do not run quickly through the garden, our mother loves for us to visit with her.

    If you have a dark period of the soul, cry out “Mother, I am in darkness” and she will bring the light of the world, her Son, into your soul.

    If winter comes into your soul, cry out, “Mother, I am cold”, and she will surround you with the warmth of her Son’s love.

    Every rose that you give to our mother is kept by her to remember us, and to share with other souls crying out to her.

    She makes certain her Son answers each and every one of our prayers.

    Ave Maria Purissima!

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