Prayer — Persevere in Dryness

hope_despair_morgan.jpg (134068 bytes)
"Hope and Despair" by Evelyn de Morgan

 

The time of Spiritual Desolation is a time for being Resigned. When a Soul begins to Cultivate the Spiritual Life, God usually showers His Consolations upon her to wean her away from the World; but when He sees her making Solid Progress, He withdraws His Hand to Test her and to see if she will Love and Serve Him without the Reward of Sensible Consolations. "In this life," as Saint Teresa used to say, "our lot is not to enjoy God, but to do His Holy Will". And again, "Love of God does not consist in experiencing His Tenderness's, but in serving Him with Resolution and Humility". And in yet another place, "God's true lovers are discovered in times of Aridity and Temptation".

One Single Act done with Aridity of Spirit is worth more than many done with Feelings of Devotion.

 

Prayer — Persevere in Dryness

by Father Miguel Marie Soeherman, MFVA

Jesus is our Lord and our God! God knows all things. He has all things. Everything that exists whether Visible or Invisible, He Created. He is the Giver of all that is Good because He is the Source of all Good. He is our Provider.

When we want something, we Pray to God. And if it is His Will, He will give it to us. And since God has everything, He doesn’t need to Pray and ask someone greater than Him because there is no one greater than Him. If there is, then He would not be God.

Yet, in the Passage today from the Gospel, Jesus “Prayed”! “In these days He went out to the hills to Pray; and all night He continued in Prayer to God”.

Not only did He Pray, but He spent the Entire Night in Prayer with the Father. This, He often did, spending the Night in Prayer.

We might ponder since Jesus is God, why does He Pray? Why does He spent the Whole Night in Prayer if He’s God? Was He just “Pretending” to be in Prayer, but not really Praying, that He wants us to simply follow His Example in Praying?

 

The Divine Person/Personality of Christ bridges the Infinite Gap between His Human and Divine Natures

One Divine
Person/
Personality.
(No Human
Person/
Personality)

Divine Nature of Christ
(Divine Intellect and Will)

Brick Wall between the Two Natures
(Absolutely no mingling of Natures)

Human Nature of Christ
(Human Intellect and Will)

 

Jesus is both True God. And He is also True Man. He is One (1) Divine Person with Two (2) Natures: Human Nature and Divine Nature. Since He has Two (2) Natures, He also has Two Wills: Human Will and Divine Will. Even though, He is Omnipotent or All Powerful by virtue of His Divine Will, His Human Will was not All Powerful. That’s why He Prayed. That’s why He spent the Whole Night in Prayer before making a very Important Decision in choosing His Apostles. So, He was really Praying! He was not “Pretending” to be in Prayer. (cf. The Navarre Bible - St. Luke)

When we Pray, what we do is make our Will known to God. So, Christ, Who is like us in all things but Sin, also had to Pray in a Human Way.

Saint Ambrose reflected on Jesus at Prayer. He said, “The Lord Prays not to ask things for Himself, but to intercede on our behalf; for although the Father has put everything into the Hands of the Son, still the Son, in order to behave in accordance with His Condition as Man, considers it appropriate to implore the Father for our sake". As Saint John in his Letter says, “We have an Advocate with the Father”. Jesus is our Advocate. Yes, we can say He Prays and Intercedes for us before the Father. At the same time, He receives our Prayers too and answers our Prayers according to His Will. (cf. Divine Intimacy, vol. II)

After we have begun a Life of Prayer, we come to realize that just like in everything else, there are Trials in Prayer. We search for God in Prayer, but Faith is not yet Vision. And that, we Suffer because we cannot find God. We cannot be United to Him as we would like.

At times, it seems the Lord is hiding His Face. It seems the Lord is Abandoning us. It seems that we are all Alone and Incapable of a Good Thought or a Good Impulse or a Good Affection. Is He really there? Yes, God is always there hearing our Prayers. He is waiting for proof of its Fidelity.

Saint Paul said, “The Spirit helps us in our Weakness, for we do not know how to Pray as we ought" (Romans 8:26). Prayer is a Gift of God. Only God can make us Capable of Praying as we should. And we should be Conscious of our Weakness and our Inability to Pray. When the Holy Spirit assists us by His Grace, Prayer then becomes Easy and Spontaneous, but when He decides to 'Hold' His Grace, we experience our Poverty. We experience our Insufficiency. We experience our Coldness of Mind and Heart.

To Engage in Prayer means to deal with these “Problems”, but yet these “Problems” or these “Spiritual Sufferings” have a Purpose. The Purpose is to Purify us from Immaturity in our Prayer and our Faith to be more Mature. We learn, then, to turn to Prayer with greater Purity of Intention, not to find Pleasure or Spiritual Consolation, but to Please God and to Prove our Allegiance to Him.

We need to give ourselves to Prayer, not only in Moments of Joyful and Sensible Devotion, but also in Times of Dryness, in Times of Discomfort, or in times that we just don’t “Feel” like Praying. And all this, not just for a Certain Period, but at All Times, every day, all our life.

Powerlessness and Dryness can cause us to think that it is a Waste of Time to devote ourselves to Prayer and that we would do better to work. We can easily think this way especially when we have many obligations to do. We can easily think that it is 'Useless' to Persevere in Prayer. This experience was felt by Saint Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church in Prayer. This was the Greatest Temptation she had that it nearly brought-about her Ruin.

The Devil wants all of us not to Pray.  Because when we don’t Pray, we don’t Commune with God. And he likes that. But when we Pray, we Commune with God; and he hates that. He hates all People who Pray.

So no matter how much Difficulty we may have in Prayer, the important thing is not to give up, but to Persevere. And I conclude with the Words of Julian of Norwich who writes Revelations of Divine Love, “Pray with your Whole Being even though you think it has no savor for you. For such Prayer is very profitable even though you feel nothing, though you see nothing, even though it seems impossible to you. It is in Dryness and Barrenness, in Sickness and Feebleness that your Prayer is Most Pleasing to Me, even though you think that it has little savor for you”.

 

Prayer of Saint Padre Pio

Lord Jesus, sometimes, when I am in the State of Spiritual Aridity, I don't even feel like Praying, and I certainly do not feel Your Presence. I wonder how You, the Bread of Life, could ever Love me, a Miserable Sinner. Help me to Accept my Weak Humanity, and to bow always Humbly before You and Accept the "Medicine" of Your Holy Spirit Who longs to Heal my Heart and Soul.

Amen

Nota Bene: Padre Pio was Graced by God with the Stigmata. His Shield depicts the Pelican,
a Symbol of Christ, who strikes her own breast to draw blood in order to feed her young chicks.