Updated: Feb 24, 2021
When we are most alone. God is there!
Today, I have been praying for all those people who feel alone and who are unable to ask for prayers, though they dearly need them. The intentions of some of my dear friends are such that they find it virtually impossible to openly ask for prayers without causing embarrassment to themselves or their loved ones. And yet, their need for prayers is as dire and urgent as those who can openly ask for them – perhaps more so.
For those who cannot ask for themselves, I ask on their behalf – even without knowing the details – because in taking an opportunity to petition my Beloved for these few, He rewards me more than words can say – with peace… Peace as deep and fathomless as the sea.
It is a heavy burden of isolation when one cannot ask for prayers, and yet, there is no outward show for it. To all outwards appearances, life may seem fine. And yet, the interior struggle creates a wasteland from which it becomes impossible – without the intercession of God – to transcend. And without prayers, that transcendence is virtually impossible.
There is something comforting in community, in calling on God together, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20).
And yet, these souls are wandering alone and in the wilderness, as I too have wandered for many years, as many of you are wandering now too.
This personal Exodus is evidence of the way to Calvary. The Way of the Cross – if only we had the wisdom to recognise it for what it is!
Saint Padre Pio tells us, “Just as the body needs nourishment, so does the soul need the Cross, day after day, to purify it and detach it from creatures. We do not want to understand that God neither wants nor is able to save or sanctify us without the Cross and the more He draws a soul to Himself the more He purifies it by means of the Cross.”
During the Exodus, when the Israelites fled the wrath of Pharaoh in Egypt, seeking the Promised Land of Canaan, God allowed their journey through the desert to last forty years – when a walk of a mere 6 weeks would have brought them to their destination.
They were not yet ready. They required their Cross. The desert was their Cross.
God used those forty years to help them, though “…the whole community of Israelites began complaining…” (Exodus 16:2-15).
Anybody who complained was denied entry into the Promised Land – even Moses himself, who became bitter and resentful over time – because they did not embrace the Cross necessary for their purification.
Later, Christ, as Saint John the Baptist did before Him, took to the wilderness – guided by the Holy Spirit – to seek solace in the Lord God and to allow Himself to be tempted there.
Christ’s personal Exodus allowed Him to be the perfect example for us – His exodus was a precursor of Calvary – it was His Cross – before His Cross. There, on that desert Cross, as later on that Cross at Calvary, Christ asserted Himself over the Evil One… and taught us how to use our SUFFERING for salvation.
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:14-15).
I am very familiar with this wasteland Exodus. I have spent years in this arid desert of despair. During that time, my soul felt like a scented candle burning in a darkened room.
The candle burned and it was hot. The flamed burned. I felt that pain. The wax melted – a once beautiful cylinder was destroyed – melted into a puddle of soft oozing wax and I felt myself a mess of nothing – undefined and undefinable.
And yet… As the candle burns it gives light. As it burns it gives scent. As it burns it gives warmth. These things give pleasure… And the melted wax becomes ready – soft and pliable – awaiting the Creator’s Hand.
And the Creator uses this wax. He used it in me. Not to recreate a mere candle – with humility I recognise His hand on me.
As John Donne begs in his Renaissance Religious Sonnet , “Batter my Heart”, so I too begged God, “Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend; That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.…”.
And God so loves me – simple, stupid, sinful unworthy me – that He listened to me a little.
So, instead of the melted puddle of wax in the darkened room, He moulded me into a vacuum. A useless, empty vacuum, filled with the merest scrap of metal, fixed onto a ceiling of a room – unable even to move… And when He filled that worthless vacuum with His Grace – for LOVE of me and through no merit of my own – the little useless vacuum, that light bulb, shone His light across the room and for all the world to see.
So, for those who are alone today, I pray. Because in the Exodus in the desert, in the wilderness, God is there – He always was, He always is, He always will be.
And what better company could we ever ask for on that journey?
For with God, I have everything. There is nothing more I need.
For with prayers – even silent ones alone – we Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.