I often focus on “doing my duty”. If I complete all the elements of my prayer than I’m good…I’ve done my duty… God must be pleased… now I can get on with the rest of my day. And if I later find myself unsettled or even “out of peace”, I think, “Gee, I had my prayer… I did my duty…why am I out of peace?
I was struck by today’s Mass reading from Hebrews. “Demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of hope…so you may not become sluggish…” (Hebrews 6:10-20) I can become sluggish. Why am I sluggish at times?
I’m wading through the “Power of Silence” book by Robert Cardinal Sarah…. He’s one tough cookie …a very “holy cookie”. He relates a quote from Mother Teresa which startled me … it cut thru some of the “sluggishness” which can slow me down and cause me to get weary. In the story, a young priest is telling Mother Teresa about his prayer (I was impressed) and she says,
“ That is not enough my son! That is not enough, because love cannot be reduced to the indispensable minimum; love demands the maximum! …. Do you think that I could practice charity if I did not ask Jesus every day to fill my heart with my love. Do you think I could go through the streets looking for the poor if Jesus did not communicate the fire of his charity to my heart ?” Enunciating each word, she added : ”Read the gospel attentively, and you will see that Jesus sacrificed even charity for prayer. And do you know why? To teach us that, without God, we are too poor to help the poor.”
Boy, oh boy, oh boy !!! That quote “knocked my socks off”. I was down for the count after reading that quote from Mother Teresa, but just in case I needed a little more, Cardinal Sarah added, “Let us devote a lot of time to God, to prayer and adoration. Let us allow ourselves to be nourished abundantly and ceaselessly by the word of God. We know the hardness of our heart, and it takes a lot of time for it to soften and to be humbled at the contact of the Host and to be imbued with the love of God.” (Power of Silence, Par. 56-57)
I play golf occasionally…. And have shot some decent scores over the years. At times I’ll look at a golf instruction video and even hit a bucket of balls and then hit the links ready to shoot some excellent golf. Yet I’m usually a little “bummed out” as I hit a few good ones and then a clunker. I ask myself, “why can’t I hit that shot better…more consistently…..bla,bla,bla….” Then someone mentions that the golf pros practice incessantly…hours on one particular shot….
Well, if we want to “love like the saints”, we need to “practice like the saints”. We need to spend time with our “instructor” and do what he says to do. I’m actually encouraged by these words from Mother Teresa and Cardinal Sarah.
If I’m willing to take the time, my hard heart can be softened and humbled. We can do this. By God’s grace we can grow in holiness. Let’s go for it.