“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” (Isaiah 9:2).
Today, I have been praying with great fervour for a great number of intentions. Many of the intentions that I pray for are things that I do not know or understand and are things that will probably never be revealed to me in this lifetime. Perhaps they will not be revealed to me in the next life either… I really do not understand enough of how such things work to have any opinion on the matter.
In my past life, before the magnificent greatness of my conversion – which occurred through Grace and no merit of my own – I would have found this lack of knowledge about people’s intentions very distracting. I would have wondered and tried to guess what was going on.
I did not like the darkness in those days… Now I do not wonder. I do not guess. I do not care.
When someone asks me to pray with them for an intention close to their heart, only two things come to my mind. The first thing that I think, is what comfort my prayers can bring to THEM – for prayers send Grace and great comfort to those for whom we pray. The second thing that I think, is what comfort my prayers can bring to ME – for in all that we GIVE, we shall RECEIVE a hundredfold…
“Jesus said, ‘In truth I tell you, there is no one who has left house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children or land for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times as much, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and land -- and persecutions too -- now in this present time and, in the world to come, eternal life.’” (Mark 10:29-30).
Perhaps, this is selfish of me, this true knowledge of the great good that my prayers for YOU do for ME. I have often wondered about this…
Though my primary intention is not to benefit myself when I pray for others, it is the natural consequence of the activity, and it is this consequence of prayer that gives such great joy… Perhaps this is why Saint Luke reminds us, “…the words the Lord Jesus Himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:32-35). Perhaps also, this is why Saint John Vianney, The Cure d’Ars, said, “The one who saves a soul from Hell saves this soul and his own as well.”
These days, when I receive a request to join someone in prayer, I am not distracted by the content of the message. Curiosity killed the cat – or so the saying goes… Instead, when I am asked to join others in prayer, I am BLESSED. For there is no greater blessing than to be provided with an opportunity for prayer.
And these requests do such good!
People who ask for prayers often express their embarrassment at inconveniencing me in asking me to join with them in prayer. My own parents – when my little niece was so very sick last year – were initially greatly troubled by the idea that in asking for prayer they were somehow a burden to others. Perhaps it is a cultural thing, or a result of their age or demographic? Perhaps it is because they had not been exposed to a situation requiring such fervent prayer before? Or perhaps, they are just shyer than I am, and they simply found it terribly embarrassing?
Whatever the reason for their trepidation – and mine – the important thing was that they moved past it! After all, for a while there the situation with my niece was very dire – they really had no choice!
But this decision to ask for help through prayer is a difficult one. It requires a complete surrender – a complete abandonment. It is often only when our heart is broken that God is able to come in…
But there can be joy in such heartbreak! Saint Ivo of Kermartin said, “If you are willing to abandon the world, you will taste here on earth the joys of Heaven.” For this coming together – brothers and sisters in Christ – brings such a foretaste of the joys to come…
Just imagine what Heaven really is… It is a place – a state of mind or a feeling – of utter love and companionship. There is no loneliness there. There is only love support acceptance and joy… And to reach this place, surely our focus should be upon it.
After all, if we would never try to drive down the street with our eyes closed, why then would we try to “drive” to Heaven with our eyes closed? Saint Alphonsus Liguori said this far more beautifully than me, “The business of eternal salvation is to us the most important of affairs; but it is also the most neglected by Christians.”
Could it be the darkness of this world?
I think not. After all, many of the saints have seen Heaven clearly despite the darkness of our fallen nature. Saint Therese of Lisieux said, “I give thanks to my Jesus for making me walk in the darkness, and in this darkness I enjoy profound peace. I only desire that my darkness may obtain light for sinners.”
Saint Therese of Lisieux is right… For in the darkness, I have seen a great light!
And if I can serve my Beloved in some way, I would be an empty vacuous globe nailed up into a room. And He would fill me with Grace and that Grace would shine out for all the world to see…
I would be a simple light bulb – useless without His Grace that fills me…
And then all the world could join me and say, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” (Isaiah 9:2).
For here, right here in the darkness – there is great light!
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.