Wednesday, November 25, 2015

from frenzied anxiety into the peaceful embrace of eucharistic love


Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Haste has been described as a modern form of violence to the person.  Indeed, as we are carried about in a frenzied fashion through the activities and the demands of our life, our interior life can become fragmented.  What is this but violence against the self?  The anxiety-ridden mind and heart become incapable of experiencing the peace of Christ, incapable of receiving his love. 

This makes something a simple as slowing down the pace of our lives, reducing our activities, an act of faith; making room for and making way for God's presence.  It allows for silence to shape all that we do and say and give meaning to our experiences.  It also prepares us for the moment of greatest intimacy when we receive the Lord in the Holy Eucharist; to understand that He has come for us . . . 

I don't often realize how much haste disturbed my journey towards the invisible one.  Haste dominates the desire so that I am overtaken by the event and over-anxious to get what I want.  So much of me is nervously frenetic, feverishly making plans with hectic effort to get a move on, racing hastily towards my goal.  This kind of activity simply impedes my discovery of eucharistic love.

Perhaps I should begin by slowing down every step I take.  Every moment is a time when i can receive God's love.  I can only assimilate this love if I let go of feverish activity, frenzied anxiety, my attempts to put my personal seal on everything I do.  That is the way to be really prayerful.  It is enough for me to slow down the pace of my activity so that I make way for God's presence.  That is how I prepare the way for peaceful eucharistic love.

If my words about God are not immersed in a sort of silence as they are uttered, they come from a godless mouth.  What is more, no one will listen to me.  To hear God we need silence like Elijah on Mount Horeb.

When I am pressed for time, slowing down itself can be an act of faith.  With an activity that is more paced, I can begin to pray.  I do it for Him.  This slower activity is a proper preparation for my reception of Him in the Eucharist.

When I drive a car, I try to pray in the act of driving itself, just by touching the steering wheel or the pedals.  I will somehow bring God into that activity.  It is enough that it is being done differently, and on account of this one who is waiting for me with an abundance of eucharistic graces.  Every attempt to slow down or do it differently becomes an act of faith as it is directed to this one who craves nothing more than continuously to be communicating His grace on me.

"My daughter, I too came down from heaven out of love for you; I lived for you, I died for you, I created the heavens for you," said the Lord Jesus to St. Faustian.  Yet don't these words also apply to me if I accept His mercy just like St. Faustian?  He also descended from heaven out of love for me.  He lived for me.  He died for me.  He created the heavens for me.  This is God's amazing love as if He were talking to me personally: for you I am coming onto the altar.  It is for you that I am bringing about this miraculous transformation.

I am sometimes tempted to think it is all very well for St. Faustian with her special vocation, but that is not for me.  I don't want it.  Yet doesn't that reveal a hidden resistance on my part to God's grace?  After all, it is He who chooses.  Didn't He choose the twelve apostles, who were just ordinary people?

Slowing down involves coming into silence.  Within this silence, I can discover God.  I can only live the sacrament of the present moment by this silence.

This sacrament discovered in daily life leads to the Blessed Sacrament, the sacrament that is the peak of Christian life.  We can say that since the Eucharist is the sacrament of faith, then everything that holds back the growth of faith in me holds back the flow of redeeming grace flowing either in holding the Eucharist or by God's presence in the tabernacle.

Faith means seeing what is invisible.  My participation in the Eucharist is a prayer of humble faith.  It draws me into humbly exercising more constant loving attentiveness to the invisible one.  He is really present under the species of bread and wine.  Yet is it so easy to stand by in loving attentiveness?  My prayer during the Eucharist, the prayer of humble faith, is actually generally distracted because until now I have not clung to God.  If I am completely preoccupied by something during the day or totally immersed in something, then it is not possible for me to be focused when I am coming into church or when Jesus appears on the altar.  My attitude during the Eucharist reflects my divided life in which I so often forget God.  The reality is that everything that happens to me during the day revives when I am trying to pray before the altar.

I am not only often preoccupied by events, I am also taken up with my vivid imagination.  As St. Teresa of Avila says: "Since it sees itself alone, the war it wages is something to behold - how it strives to disturb everything.  As for me, I find the memory tiresome and abhorrent.  I often beseech the Lord to take it away during these periods if it is going to bother me so much . . .  . The only remedy I have, having tired myself out for many years, is . . . to pay no more attention to the memory than one would to a madman."

So how can I learn concentration?  I need humbly to ask for it and often to practice greater concentration throughout the day.  This concentration means living more carefully, more slowly, not hurrying towards a future constructed from mental patterns under the influence of something in my past life.  The rule is: do whatever you do without overstitching yourself, not expecting to finish what you have begun.

However we shall not fulfill our expectations either during prayer or at Mass.  We are never free from distractions.  So I shall be continually beginning it but never actually finishing.  Searching is finding and finding is searching, teaches St. Gregory of Nysa.

God is silence.  When I try to be still, pushing may way towards the invisible one, I am entering the extraordinary circle of His amazing, saving, eucharistic presence.  With this He will be embracing me more and more.

Fr. Tadeusz Dajczer
The Mystery of Faith