Joy in Contemplative Community - I FIND JOY EVEN IN MY STRUGGLES
I have lived through many difficulties and I have grown stronger…
Listening to the Scriptures
He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.
” Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.” Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground. When he got up from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping because of grief, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial.” (Luke 22:39-46)
Listening to the Carmelite Tradition.
In the footsteps of the first Carmelite hermits, we too journey through the desert, which develops our contemplative dimension. This requires self-abandonment to a gradual process of emptying and stripping ourselves, so that we may be clothed in Christ and filled with God. This process “begins when we entrust ourselves to God, in whatever way he chooses to approach us.” For we do not enter the desert by our own will: it is the Holy Spirit who calls us and draws us into the desert; it is the Spirit who supports us in our spiritual combat, clothes us in God’s armour, and fills us with his gifts and with the divine presence, until we are entirely transformed by God and reflect something of God’s infinite beauty. (RIVC 32)
Listening to the Church Tradition.
…. new difficulties are constantly surfacing: experiences of failure and the human weaknesses which bring so much pain. We all know from experience that sometimes a task does not bring the satisfaction we seek, results are few and changes are slow, and we are tempted to grow weary. Yet lowering our arms momentarily out of weariness is not the same as lowering them for good, overcome by chronic discontent and by a listlessness that parches the soul. It also happens that our hearts can tire of the struggle because in the end we are caught up in ourselves, in a careerism, which thirsts for recognition, applause, rewards and status. In this case we do not lower our arms, but we no longer grasp what we seek, the resurrection is not there. In cases like these, the Gospel, the most beautiful message that this world can offer, is buried under a pile of excuses. (Evangelii Gaudium, 277)
In the darkest of moments, when all seems hidden from me, to whom do I turn?
Psalmody (from psalm 86)
O Listen to me, Lord, answer me, for I am poor and needy. Guard me, for I am faithful, save your servant who relies on you. You are my God, take pity on me, Lord, for to you I cry all the day.
Fill your servant's heart with joy, Lord, for to you I raise up my heart. Lord, you are kind and forgiving, rich in faithful love for all who call upon you.
Lord, hear my prayer, listen to the sound of my pleading. In my day of distress, I call upon you, because you answer me, Lord;
I thank you with all my heart, Lord my God, I will glorify your name for ever, for your faithful love for me is so great that you have rescued me from the depths of Sheol.
Who can free himself from his meanness and limitations, if you do not lift him to yourself, my God, in purity of heart? How can a person brought to birth and nurtured in a world of small horizons, rise up to you Lord, if you do not raise him by your hand, which made him? You will not take from me, my God, what you once gave me in your only Son, Jesus Christ, in whom you gave me all I desire; so I shall rejoice: you will not delay, if I do not fail to hope. (John of the Cross, “Prayer of a soul in love”, Sayings 26)
“… to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen”. (Jude 24-25)