Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Pounding waves against a stony heart

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

When it comes to prayer, do not give yourselves over to presumption.  If we were to see clearly both the immensity of the love of God and the hardness of our hearts, our sorrow would know no end.  Even when we come before Him we often labor under the illusion of fidelity; that we are opening our hearts to him when they are painfully closed.  We are preoccupied with other things - adoring other things or people.  His love washes over us like a wave; repeatedly crashing against the many forms of resistance that we have built up against Him.  Even our "focusing on prayer" can become a means through which the evil one draws us back to thinking about ourselves.  Yet God's desire for us is unending and he will work to dispel our illusions.

God's love for us is so great that through the Holy Spirit, He transmit it day and night.  His love is really special in the Blessed Sacrament.  He wants us so much.  His love is like a gigantic sea of waves pounding and demanding to break into our lives.  however, we have interior resistant walls resulting in inner conflicts.  These conflicts can cause inner pain.  These waves want to break down our interior barriers.

I once posed a question to myself about this mysterious eucharistic presence in the Mass continuing in the tabernacle.  If He revealed whites truly going on, I would probably get a shock or become rather dizzy.  I would see that between my kneeling in church and the tabernacle there is nothing other than an apparent silence.  That is because I have a noise, possessive preoccupation with and adoration of persons and things.   God's eucharistic love wants abundantly to be united with me.  It is like huge waves trying to penetrate and flow into my life.  He wants to use my weak faith to flow through me with enormous power, to share abundantly this marvelous grace to flush out that noise going on within me.  Then I will "see" that Real Presence.

God becomes great for me insofar as I hunger for Him, crying out, "I need You!"  Ultimately, the value of this prayer is related to the depth of my faith.

My life reflects the state of my prayer.  I need to dispel many illusions. I have to go through many trials of faith, much emptying of being wrapped up in myself so that my prayer gets much deeper.  These trials and purifications should help to intensify my desire for God.  It is not really surprising that this one whose only desire is that I desire and need Him will work in my life like huge waves striking the rocks.  They are striking, spraying foam everywhere, flowing in repeatedly just like the ocean shores.  One may wonder how it is that these waves never weary, endlessly smashing against the shores.  God's love is just like that.

It is really only after my death that I shall see how these enormous waves of God's incomprehensible love for me, overflowing from the altar or tabernacle strike my inner rock to penetrate and flow into my soul.  Which is more stunning, this interminable love of God, unweary like the ocean striking the rocks, or this strange resistance of the rock against which the waves endlessly strike so forcibly?

When I enter church and meet Jesus in the Eucharist, my senses deceive me.  What I see and hear tell me nothing about God's action in my life.  That is because I do not see these forceful big waves.  I do not hear their roar as they strike my rocky surface.  I think I am in silence now but that masks the reality.  How can God's crazy love leave me in my veneer of calmness?  How can it leave me in my anxiety to be somewhere else?

As I kneel with this idea I am in silence; my eucharistic God tries to crush this noise in my heart.  My earthly idols create it by my longings, desires and fears.  If I do not turn away from it, it may force its way into my heart so that although I am in church physically I am mentally far from Him.  Anxiety over earthly problems obscures God.  Planning important affairs covers Him up completely.  God becomes insignificant.  I may completely obscure Him in my preoccupation with problems.

Moreover, I am also taken up with faraway thoughts when I think I am so close.  I don't realize that I am preoccupied with idols.  I think I am craving to focus on prayer.  Yet even the words "focus of prayer" hide a snare of the evil one.  I can focus on prayer or just on God.  "Focus on our own praying."  "That is good," the evil one whispers.  I should remember that by focusing on my praying I am still far away, searching for idols that cause my distractions.  After all, so much thought about my idols and my prayer activity are both ways of being taken up with myself.

I can be physically present in the church but far away in spirit.  The obstacle is whatever is taking up my thoughts.  God has crazy love for me.  I am more or less crazily in love with everything that is not God.  Can we resolve the problem?

I visit church and nothing happens.  I say it is difficult for me to pray.  I think I do not know how to contact God.  My prayer is somehow not getting going.  I am like a blind and deaf man.  Yet God hidden in the Eucharist roars like those huge waves.  The roar can be so loud that it deafens my senses.  They don't heart the cannon boom on the battlefront.  God in the tabernacle under the species of bread roars like the waves: Your belief in me is too shallow.  That is why your prayer isn't getting through.  You don't believe that decisions are made right here before the altar or tabernacle.  You are blind because you eagerly seek human approval.  You are ready to kiss doctors' hands to save the life of your mother even though they do not decide what will happen to her.  Here, in the tabernacle, you have the one upon whom everything depends - your fate, your mother's, and the fate of these doctors. Yet still you rate the doctors more highly.

So God is still very unimportant for me.

God tells me, Your faith is so tiny it is hardly visible.  You are asking like that father in the Gospel: if you can, heal my son.  If you can?  With belief in the Eucharist, nothing is impossible.  Yet you do  not really believe in my strength and love.  So your prayer is not effective.  Your prayers don't come from much faith.

St. John of the Cross calls people like me sensual.  With my sight I just see the tabernacle doors, nothing more.  God is too unimportant for me because I overrated myself.  I think I can deal with my problems better than He.  Yet He is the one from whom I should seek help.  God's huge roar and overflowing waves can destroy my false prayer.  My prayer is little more than the movement of my lips with some feelings.  I don't have much faith.  If only I would admit this.  If only I understood what God is trying to tell me in my distractions.  He is broadcasting on a different wavelength.  He is broadcasting on the gigantic waves of mercy, and where am I?

There is no contact.  God bellows with the roar of huge waves as in the Apocalypse: "I will come to you and remove your lamp stand from its place, unless you repent." (Rev 2:5)  So to stop believing in myself,  I have to cease analyzing my prayer.  I am reluctant to admit it.  So much analysis focuses on myself and impedes grace.  I need to open myself to the striking eucharistic truth that God's loving heart is being just for me.

When we watch ocean waves, we can feel the fury of them, the powerful upheaval that would like to break something.  Yet it is not like that in God.  There is simply amazing love for me that is not getting through.  Still, perhaps I can manage to accept the grace of faith and then something from that roar will hit my stony heart.  Perhaps I shall then start asking forgiveness, I shall humble myself before this astonishing love which like those waves is continuously running towards me from the Eucharist.  Maybe there will be a miracle so I will become smaller.  Maybe my hard heart will soften.  Huge waves will no longer be painfully striking the hardened surface of my heart, but they will gently flood over these crumbling stones from which my heart is now being reshaped.  Perhaps they will be really different, more gentle, more humble.  The waves won't strike with force.   They will flow over and into me.  They will wash me.  They will penetrate my being.  They will shape something unusual from me - something I would never have begun to imagine even in my wildest dreams.

Fr. Tadeusz Dajczer
The Mystery of Faith