Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Praying With My Spirit

And behold. we went to the very chapel where St. Faustina conversed with Jesus and which held the original image of Divine Mercy, in the Year of Mercy, but the Lord was not in the chapel. And after the chapel, we went to the Saint John Paul II Sanctuary, but the Lord was not in the sanctuary. And after the sanctuary, the Wawel Cathedral, but the Lord was not in the cathedral.

And after all these, there was a prayer meeting in the mountains.

A prayer meeting that I only went to because Iwona told us we were expected to go. A prayer meeting where I understood almost nothing that was happening. And even though I am using this Scriptural reference as a literary device, if I ponder it deeply I did hear that question being put to me during that prayer meeting like it was to Elijah in the still, small voice: "Marie, what are you doing here?"

We arrived in the little village of Murzasichle in the mountains for the week after World Youth Day with assorted Poles connected to the Hallelujah community. They were there on retreat; I was there, apparently, to have the stuffing knocked out of me.

But early in that time was this evening prayer meeting. I was feeling very small, but at that point I still had the interior resources to face that respectably well. My normal way with just about anything is to give 110% of my focus to what is happening when someone is speaking, or praying. I am by nature a very earnest person. I noticed this, for example, whenever we had a tour guide. I sucked in every word being said and gave my attention thoroughly. It also became evident that by the end of most tours, the guide was looking only at me when speaking, because I think I was the only one "left standing," still paying rapt attention. It is just my way.

But this prayer meeting could not be that way. Almost everything that was said or sung was in Polish or maybe in tongues -- I had that much of a clue! I could not give my attention to any person. But I was profoundly aware that I trusted these friends of my friend -- more than that -- I trusted these fellow Catholic believers. Rather than mentally tracking deeply with what was happening, or working up an affinity in my heart for the person I was listening to, I united the heart of my prayer with whatever they were praying. I put my heart with them. On purpose. I joined with whatever they were praying, and I followed where the Holy Spirit led me interiorly, my attention being held only there.

This is a purifying sort of thing. One of the reasons, I think, that I pay attention to things so hard is that I sometimes want to be in communion with someone so ardently that I bust my butt, for lack of a more eloquent phrase, to give all my energy into hopes for that communion.

And while it is good to give one's energies, there comes a point when one's energies just don't cut it to bring about the communion for which we are made. Flesh gives birth to flesh; spirit gives birth to spirit.

So on that night, I had to admit that I was there not to engage my mental, emotional, or social abilities, but simply to inwardly unite myself in prayer with the Lord, and to spiritually unite myself with my brothers and sisters.

If there is anything I've faced since returning that is hard for me to deal with, it is that the Lord wants me to keep going straight to Him, this way.

Probably I will understand this more in the future, but any kind of striving to maintain relationships that make me feel safe, including my own vision of myself, including striving in my relationship with the Lord, gets a resounding buzzer sounding in my spirit. I can't help but feel that this is a negative, like a chastisement, but the slightest bit of thought on the matter shows me that the Lord is calling me to Himself in a greater way. The problem with the Lord calling our souls is that it always seems painful, because of our sin and attachments that need to be cleared out. Although it sounds ridiculous, it feels a little lonely to pursue only God, and to let my striving stop. It is a death. Death is scary.

But, I am a Christian, and I believe dying in Christ brings about life in abundance.

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