Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Catholic Hermit: More on Christ's Peace, Love, Prayer

The lovely and kindly couple from the parish (which is a driving distance) arrived Sunday morning with Holy Communion.  The woman hoped that their bringing Communion the Sunday prior somehow helped me endure my living conditions.  I am sure at some level and dimension, yes, His Real Presence in tangible form does help all aspects of body, mind, heart and spirit.  His Real Presence in mystical form, spiritual communion, prayer and known essence also helps.

What I think helps this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit, also, is the fact of this couple's willingness to sacrifice time, energy, and effort to bring the consecrated Host to me in my woebegone hermitage.  So when they gave me a bulletin from the parish and noted it contained a prayer and write-up on "peace", I was intrigued.

This past week I have been praying and pondering on what is Christ's peace, as correlated to the Colossians scripture, "Let the peace of Christ control our hearts."  In review, the insights I received in the silence of solitude here point to Christ's peace being integral to His love.  Thus, to "remain in" Christ's love is requisite to have His peace; and to remain in His love and peace requires a letting go of self-love and includes a receptivity to Christ's love (and thus His peace) to control our hearts.

So I've considered quite a bit about love this week--specifically Christ's love, loving God in Himself, and the desire to remain in Christ's love.  I pray to remain in His love and consider the Living Word saying:  Remain in My love.  

Thus, I was curious as to the prayer for peace that I think is one suggested by the Church in general, the temporal Church by means of perhaps the United States Bishop's Council or even some office headed by clerics of the Vatican.  I don't know for sure, but I share the prayer here, all the same.  (It is recommended to "use The Prayer for Peace in Our Communities with your family, school, faith community, or in other settings.)

"Let us pray...O Lord, our God, in your mercy and kindness, no thought of ours is left unnoticed, no desire or concern ignored.

"You have proven that blessings abound when we fall on our knees in prayer, and so we turn to you in our hour of need.

"Surrounded by violence and cries for justice, we hear your voice telling us what is required...'only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God' (Mi 6:8).

"Fill us with your mercy so that we, in turn, may be merciful to others.  Strip away pride, suspicion, and racism so that we may seek peace and justice in our communities.

"Strengthen our hearts so that they beat only to the rhythm of your holy will.  Flood our path with your light as we walk humbly toward a future filled with encounter and unity.

"Be with us, O Lord, in our efforts, for only by the prompting of your grace can we progress toward virtue.

"We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen."

Now, why am I having difficulty even reading through this prayer, let alone repeating it?  I don't know what has happened to me!  It seems like such-type prayers groups or congregations read through--which maybe they did during Mass.  In its communal effect verbal prayers hold goodness and merit for the unitive, intentional act of everyone reading, praying, aloud.  Yet, to me (and perhaps to children) the mind escapes amidst words strung together one after the other.

The prayer sounds like so many church or devotional prayers that someone or other writes (perhaps I have, in forgotten past!), striving to include pastorally-correct words, theme, and cadence that seem always to be used in these prayers.  There is even the use of poetic imagery such as our hearts beating to the rhythm of God's will, and flooding our path with God's light.  (The imagery is helpful for jolting minds back to prayer content.)

Still, the prayer to me is a penance to get through; and while my mind can repeat the words, I cannot sink teeth of my heart and soul into it.  I get so weary of not being competent to do as we are asked to do, such as to pray this prayer.  I used to be able to repeat such prayers, as in the first couple of years of my zealous phase of trying to perform all things Catholic and parish dutifully and as perfectly rote as possible.

Alas, I have lost that knack.  I am weary physically, mentally, emotionally--and somehow incapable of repeating what seems word-mash in my mind.  I cannot focus on so many words strung together by commas and ellipses.  I admire those who can, and who retain focus while doing so, for there is a power in uniting voices in any purposeful prayer.

So this week I have had to face my authentically imperfect hermit self.  My prayers remain mostly wordless yet often are images.  If I use mental words, they are spontaneous--along the lines of "Lord have mercy on my poor soul!"  Or I beg, "Please help me remain in Your love!"  Or also, "God bless" this or that person [sometimes name them but mostly see the person/s in my inner sight].  

More often, there is within me a beseeching (or soliciting!) of the Lord for help for our world and all people in it.  Then, the other night came a lucid dream which was horrifying in some aspects but contained all the reminder I needed.  I must pray for my dear departed mother, for I was shown I had neglected her--even lost track of where she is, finding her in a dark and old nursing home of sorts--all metaphor, you understand, for she is on the other side these past 12 years of our temporal time.

Yes, my conscious state had lost track of her.  In the night's mystical, subconscious dimension, I located her after much seeking. I yearned to talk with her but only was allowed to reach out and embrace her with more emotion and love than I can describe with words.  She was not able to speak, but I had tried to talk using words, all the same.  Now I am praying for my mother, thanking God for her in my life and asking Him to favor her with increasing light, reminding Him that she did her best in life out of love and good intentions, always.

And from that lucid dream I am reminded of my own life, and wonder if I am doing my best with love and good intentions.  The answer is no, I am not.  I've wasted thoughts with too many words; I've used recently inane comedy (creatively written and acted as it may be) to distract myself from pain and my physical surroundings rather than facing God in the darkness at night, God alone without sounds and visuals.

Distracting and enjoying comedy or fiction or whatever else creative and entertaining is not bad.  I repeat this as I've written that in a previous post.  But for me, it is not all that good.  It is not best.  I have been shown the spiritual realm and have been given graces to grow in spiritual ways. 

I've been told by the Holy Spirit in some amazing ways that I do not belong to that world, to the temporal--delightful as much of it is.  I am marked for other aspects, and my vocation as hermit and my life of suffering lends itself as vehicle of a mystic who is to help teach the spiritual that can help others to stabilize their emotions and souls...spiritually.

Thus, my prayer life has shifted.  It should be no surprise and also not a concern that the word prayers suggested by the temporal Church to be read-prayed cannot find meaning in my pained body and mind.  The Lord provides the prayers that erupt spontaneously from my heart and soul now.  And I must not have my mind distracted by much other or I will miss these prayers of the heart and prayers of the soul that come from His Real Presence more than from this creature I know as me.

Yesterday came a little instant message on my laptop from a young man I've not heard from in three or four years. I met him when our paths crossed in Avila, Spain, years ago, when we were part of a group of strangers who signed up for courses on Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, on site where they lived and interfaced in the 16th century.

The young man, now married with children, asked me to pray that his little girl who is very sick, be healed and allowed to come home.  The few words alarmed me more to what must be a serious illness and dire situation than had he explained in depth.  The last we had contact, he and his wife had twin sons and then a third son.  

I knew of no daughters, but obviously this child must be a toddler or infant.  I asked the name and age but got no response and realized the Lord does not need me to know those minor details, nor of anything other.  When I responded that I am praying with much concern and love, and asked God to bless him, his wife, and their little girl, the young man responded with God's blessing and gratitude in return.

Once more, the Lord let me grasp the simplicity of prayer, at least in my current phase of praying, in my current desire to remain in His love and to have Christ's peace control my heart.  So while using up small pieces of tongue and groove boards to nail for slanted closet wall-ceiling, now and then my heart would pray for God to please have mercy on Michael, Kathleen and their little daughter.  "Heal her, Lord!"  "Be with them!"  "Let the little girl live!"

Sometimes the praying would not even be with these words, per se.  The praying floated somewhere between mind and heart, with images of Michael and Kathleen (whom I've not met)--and memories of Michael and wonderment at his life, for he has had trials upon trials with his own health, jobs, finding his life-wife, having children.

I also in words and not in words, asked the Lord to be there with them, wherever they are now.  More than asking, I was feeling the desires, the hopes, the anguish for, with, and in them--and of His Real Presence.  I marveled at how we met years ago when he was just out of college and I was post-middle age having just lost my last parent and my son nearly Michael's age.

I marveled how we reconnected when I went on retreat at a monastery to which his family's gentle-man farm abutted the monastery's 400 acres.  In fact, he invited me to his family's Thanksgiving; and later his mother queried him on how and why he met and knew me.  I suppose it must have seemed a bit strange, but in the Lord, such meetings of souls with missions of spiritual friendship and suffering are intended and with mystical purpose.

Remain in Christ's love and pray His peace control our hearts.  Pray for Christ's peace for all; pray all remain in His love.  If praying verbal words or reading written word prayers resonate deep within the soul or even if they make sense in the mind alone, that is prayer.  If praying with few words or with images, or with no words or no images but just a feeling or nothing, that is prayer as well.

I do think we progress in prayer, much as the Sulspicians (priest-monks of Order of St. Sulspice), and prayer seems to simplify.  The Sulspicians suggest the prayer of affection, of affect, such as in sighs and brief exclamations if any noise uttered at all--as a prayer that comes toward the end-zone of the way of illumination, leading into the way of union with God.

Yet it could be that prayer evolves and weaves in and out of our lives just as do the levels or degrees of Christ' peace controlling our hearts and our fluctuations toward greater and more profound remaining in His love.

My physical pain sickens me even with the thought to read or verbalize or think about the written prayer for peace, shared above.  Yet that does not mean that the prayer is not thoughtfully written and well-intended, and inclusive of many qualities and aspects good for peace among people.  But also, we do not need to force ourselves to read or verbalize or think the words of prayers, either.  

This morning, the sickening pain of low back radiating and the spinal headache say it all.  And my desire for Christ's peace to control my heart and to remain in His love are known without saying or asking or thinking or feeling.  And my love for the young man and his wife and children reside in my being, my soul, and expand to all families with children ill, and with children ill who have no biological parents tending them.  

And the peace and love extends to souls on the other side striving to fullness of light or perhaps in Christ's Light fully yet are reminding us that we are not quite up to snuff here.  Get up to snuff in peace, love, prayer of body, mind, heart, soul--any which way and all ways.

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