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.
When 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.
If 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.