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  • Sarah Raad

Direction

I have all that I need. Now I must chose in which direction I shall look…

The Temptation and Fall of Eve (William Blake)

The other day, I was having a down sort of day. Nothing was wrong but nothing was right. There are days like those for all of us I guess as we plod along under the weight of our Cross.


I prayed for the Lost Souls and for my children, and for you and yours too… But still nothing seemed to be a-okay or alright.


It got me to thinking about the demands of our spiritual life. Saint Anthony Mary Zaccaria said, “Spiritual life demands that you never turn back or stop going forward; but rather that, as soon as you taste it, you make progress day by day, and forgetting what lies behind, strain forward to what lies ahead.”


I was reflecting on these couple of lines as I was reflecting on all the intentions in my heart on that day where I felt down.

For there is a great temptation – I have found – in looking backwards over my shoulder and remembering all the terrible things that have happened and the incompetent ways that I handled those problems in the past.

Indeed, at times, the burden of looking backwards is so great that it seems that if I did not stop myself from reflecting on the journey I have made thus far, I would fall unceasingly into a chasm that has no end.


And so, as I was thinking about this state of affairs that day, when everything felt a little bit flat, it occurred to me that when we say that we are looking back, what we are really doing is looking DOWN. For when we look back, we consider our own weakness in the past. And it is this consideration of our own weakness that focuses our vision DOWN… For we are but mortal men and women and the culmination of our thoughts words and deeds from our past, could do little to reflect anything of glory in and of itself.


And I know this now. I see it clearly, because I compare this looking back to the action – the decision – of looking forward.


When we look forward, we are really looking UP. After all, the future is unknown and unknowable and in looking ahead, we are in some way – even for those of us who will not consciously acknowledge God – placing our trust in Him. For if you really think about it, what other than Divine Providence ensures that we survive the dangers of each night and day?


Saint Junipero Serra said, “Always go forward, never go back.” There is wisdom in that! For when we go back, we allow the Evil One to enter the tent. His toe slides in like the proverbial camel’s and before we know it, we are smothered by doubt as we think back to all the ways that things could have gone differently, if only we had done things that way or if only they had reacted like this. This is how I know that looking back is looking down. Because if I were looking up, there would be peace – for my Beloved is the Prince of Peace.


Before the space of even five minutes have passed in such a reflection on the past – my thoughts have focused on me, myself and I more times than I can count, and the direction of my thinking is focused solely on my own power – or lack of it. What is this if not an illusion created by the Evil One? I have no power. Not really. I just hold an illusion of it… And it is in this way that I know that in looking back – I am really looking down – far further down than I have ever before imagined – In looking back, I am looking down straight into the depths of Hell…


But how difficult it is to realign my focus. After all – old habits die hard – as the old saying goes. And it is easier to look back, for even through the pain there is a comfort to be found in familiarity. And yet, I remember another old saying, because familiarity breeds contempt – but what I never realised before today, was that the contempt it breeds is contempt for God. And this contempt is a contempt for our own nature, and our own self and it is so deep and wide and vast that it is virtually impossible to overcome it.


So, what do we do to move past this? It is a real thing. We all get down sometimes and remember with heartbreak our sorrows and pains…

Perhaps we should listen to the advice of Saint Louis de Montford, who said, “The salvation of the whole world began with the ‘Hail Mary’. Hence the salvation of each person is also attached to this prayer.”

And so, having confidence in the words of Pope Benedict who told us that what we perceive as silence absence, is in fact silent presence, I follow the advice of Saint Gregory of Nyssa, who said, “He who gives you the day will also give you the things necessary for the day.”


And so, I have all that I need. Now, I only need to chose in what direction I shall look.


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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