Burning with Faith, Thursday’s Prayer for Priests

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O Jesus, our great High Priest, hear my humble prayers on behalf of your priests. Give them a deep faith, a bright and firm hope, and a burning love which will ever increase in the course of their priestly lives.

In their loneliness, comfort them. In their sorrows, strengthen them. In their frustrations, point out to them that it is through suffering that the soul is purified, and show them that they are needed by the Church, they are needed by souls, they are needed for the work of redemption.

O loving Mother Mary, Mother of Priests, take to your heart your sons who are close to you because of their priestly ordination, and because of the power which they have received to carry on the work of Christ in a world which needs them so much. Be their comfort, be their joy, be their strength, and especially help them to live and to defend the ideals of consecrated celibacy.

Amen.

Image by Tama66 at pixabay.com.

Tendrils of Faith

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“As we extend the tendrils of our faith above and through the walls of our resistance, our lives become green, verdant, affirming… As we cling to our conscious optimism, finding footholds of faith despite opposition, our lives become rooted in the soil of grace. We are nurtured, prospered, and blessed.”

~Julia Cameron, Blessings: Prayers and Declarations for a Heartfelt Life (New York:  Tarcher Perigee, 1998) p. xii.

Image by StockSnap 27562 at pixabay.com.

Taproots and Stability

The stability of any plant is contingent on healthy and strong roots. Some plants have a lateral root system made up of wide spreading roots, nearer the surface; others have a deep central taproot that has a network of roots all along its shaft.

A tree that has a taproot is one of few plants that are found thriving in hardened soils such as clay—which, by the way, is rich in nutrients bound too tightly for most plants to utilize. As the tree begins to develop, its tiny root hairs push down and through the compacted soil, penetrating the clay, absorbing the nutrients, and as it grows becomes solidly anchored.

I was reminded of root systems when reading Suffering and the Courage of God by Robert Norris (Weavings XVII, 5, p.12).

 “[Jesus] was not standing passively accepting abuse, but nobly, without fear, facing his enemy with courage and compassion, because he was rooted in a goodness deeper than suffering. Even in the midst of suffering, the taproot of his spirit was deeply anchored in the goodness of God.”

It is not hard to imagine, or maybe you remember, a storm of such power that trees were uprooted. Did you notice the exposed roots? Often those trees had wide surface roots that held them secure through most storms. But when hit with the full force of a wind shear, especially when the soil is weakened by repeated rains, their roots were not deep enough to hold fast.

Persistent pain, whether physical or psychological, is like repeated storms that weaken our footing, and can uproot us if our roots in faith are not deep and sound enough. Pain is a normal part of the experience of life and contributes to our development. Words from an unknown poet speak of purposefulness in that suffering, “There is a ministry of pain…in the making of the soul.”

Only if we stay grounded with Christ.

Horticultural science revealed that if a tree’s root system is bruised or damaged, buffeted by winds, and still in the soil, it will grow more roots to create a greater stability against future storms—the organism becomes stronger specifically where the stressor was greatest.

Again from Robert Norris,

 “In the midst of agony, the sufferer stays connected to a larger goodness instead of being pulled out into the terrible vortex of fear, anger, helplessness, and grief that swirls in his soul.” (p.13)

There is a liberation of the soul in suffering, in the living into the pain knowing that there is healing—if not a cure—as it unites itself to God. The soul recognizes a life, an eternity, worth suffering for.

A prayer from a beloved priest kind of sums it up: Increase in me Oh Lord, my dependence on you.

Taproot (n.): something that provides an important central source for growth or development.

Image: Pixabay.com, CCO Creative Commons

A Softer Rain

The ground had grown hard from the drought. There had been a few passing rains with less than ¼” falling, but nothing had penetrated the soil enough to reach the roots of withering plants. The lawn was the color of yellow ocher.

The spiritual drought I’d been experiencing had also been prolonged, like the rainfall that was minimal; there were moments of the Holy passing by, but nothing to saturate my roots.

Though my prayers felt hollow, I was encouraged to continue each time I read the quote from St. Teresa of Avila that is taped to the mirror—“Take no notice of the temptation to give up prayer.”

Spiritual droughts are nothing new to most of us; we all experience them now and again. It’s the prolonged ones that test the endurance of our faith—the soundness of our roots, to persist and grow with and beyond the struggle.

I looked at the small ornamental crab in the front yard. For the most part it was fairing well enough. A few of the smaller interior branches showed signs of dying-off with leaves yellowed and fallen. I too know of that small dying to self.

The weather station predicted a thunderstorm for later in the day. It came, but with such force that small limbs of trees and shrubs were broken, and flowers were laid flat with many stripped of petals. It was the complete opposite of a drought; a storm with such force that most of the rain ran in rivulets down the street, it had barely penetrated an inch into the hardened soil.

I recognized a similar thirst in my parched soul; waiting to be refreshed and instead encountering a different storm. I was swinging between extremes—the hardness of depression and the reality of being blessed.

I sought the equilibrium of a steady rain. An all day rain that would reach my roots, cleans my dusty leaves, and swell the shriveling fruit.

Image: Drought, Pixabay.com, CCO, Creative Commons