If you are looking for my blog titled, The Contemplative Catholic Convert, you are at the right spot.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Best of Prayers

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body (which is the Church) in filling up that which is lacking in Christ's afflictions (Colossians 1:24).

On Jan 17th I posted a contemplation about my sciatica pain. It has eased now considerably . . . for which I am grateful to God. But I learned something of great value during those short few weeks while I tossed each night in my semi-sleep and dragged myself through each day. I learned that while there is something (to use my words again) "visceral, something I would call evil" about such pain, I also learned there is something sweet in the experience -- because God can be in the experience.

That is not a platitude. It is something I simply learned.

One thing that helped me learn that is the comment a person made to my post. Her name is Patricia. I copy it here:

I suffer from migraine headaches almost everyday - for decades. Sometimes I think about what I might have become or might have accomplished were it not for the constant pain and weariness. Yet, Jesus seems to say: Be with Me. Just be with Me. That is all I ask of you.

Patricia doesn't know this (of course, if she reads this post, she will now know it), Patricia doesn't know it, but I have mulled her words over in my mind many times since I first read them. It was as if my pain -- short-lived as it has been compared to her chronic pain -- it was as if my pain helped me understand in an intimate way what she heard from the Lord when He said to her: "Be with Me. Just be with Me. That is all I ask of you."

A few moments before I sat at my computer to write this blog entry, I read a comment by St. John Vianney: You can pray by putting yourself quite simply in touch with God. When one finds nothing more to say to Him, but just knows He is there -- that in itself is the best of prayers.

I don't know the full meaning of the text I quoted at the beginning of this post. But what I do know is this: we might be missing a great blessing of God when He gives us suffering -- perhaps I should say, when God gifts us with suffering -- and we grouse and complain and brood and mope our way through the experience.

Please do not misinterpret what I am saying. I am not at all suggesting we should not seek relief from our pain. But what I am suggesting is that when the pain persists despite our valiant attempts to find healing . . . when pain persists, we ought to consider perhaps it is God's gift to us, something He is giving us to somehow work in us whatever it will be that will teach us the best of prayers.

And to be with Him in a unique way.


Denise Fath said...

So true. There's something about pain - maybe it's because I feel like I have nowhere else to turn but to Him - that draws me closer to God than I could ever come when everything is great. It definitely qualifies as "unique"!

Patricia said...

Richard, I am so glad that you are feeling better. When pain subsides, there is such a release in body, mind and even spirit. We can pray again.

Yet, I do ponder how precious this time on earth is -- this place of exile, so often filled with suffering and confusion, where faith is sometimes our only light.

How good it is to love God in the darkness -- to love in pain and sorrow and desolation. To trust in Him when life makes no sense. To lie broken and weeping and yet raise our eyes to our Father and echo Job's words: Even if He kills me, I will still trust in Him.

Once I was thinking: My Jesus, what will I have to give You in Heaven?

And I seemed to hear: You will give me all that you give Me now, again and again for all eternity.

And I thought of how little I give.

Could any of us bear to love a crucified God, if He did not permit us to suffer at least something for Him?

Richard Maffeo said...

So well stated, Patricia. Thank you for commenting.