I saw Brother Sun, Sister Moon and now my already-developing thoughts about my utter inadequacy spiritually are getting painful; what can I do? I wonder where my old excitement is sometimes. The distractions of the world weigh on me, and I feel cowardly and inattentive.
I saw you’d posted so I came here.
I know what you mean.
We need the saints’ words on this.
There is so much written on this subject.
To mind for the moment, St Teresa of Avila (Jesus), St John of the Cross.
And Thomas Merton wrote,
“God is asking me, the unworthy, to forget my unworthiness and that of my brothers, and to dare to advance in the love which has redeemed and renewed us all in God’s likeness…to laugh, after all, at the preposterous idea of ‘worthiness’” Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander.
Walk with simplicity in the way of the Lord and do not torment your spirit. Learn to hate your faults but to hate them calmly.” (Saint Padre Pio)
Saint Therese of Lisieux encourages us in our attempts towards holiness in our vocation to love and serve. Of her own response to the call, she wrote, “This desire could certainly appear daring if one were to consider how weak and imperfect I was, and how after seven years in the religious life, I am still weak and imperfect. I always feel, however, the same bold confidence of becoming a great saint because I do not count on my own merits since I have none, but I trust in God who is Virtue and Holiness. God alone, content with my weak efforts, will raise me to Himself and make me a saint, clothing me in His infinite merits. I didn’t think then that one had to suffer very much to reach sanctity, but God was not long in showing me this was so and in sending me the trials I have already mentioned.” Therese remarked that such holiness may “not be evident to the eyes of mortals.”
We draw hope from this saint of ‘the consecrated ordinary’, whom Pope John Paul 2 declared a Doctor of the Church on October 19, 1997. Many Sisters in her Carmelite community were unaware of the holiness of her ‘ordinary’ deeds of kindness, and doubted that anything worthwhile could appear in her obituary circular. I implore God for ‘everyday’ love and trust such as Therese maintained before temptations of doubt and suffering. Like her, in ordinariness made holy by union with Jesus our God who lived ‘the ordinary life’, we must become shining lights in an era when disbelief, humanism and self-absorption prevail.
We ask God to give us dynamic confidence that holiness is not reserved for a favoured few. As Saint Paul taught, “each soul is God’s favourite” and God desires fulfilment of each person’s call to love God above all and others as self. Every person has a unique vocation and purpose, intended to enrich each other person’s soul for all eternity.
To someone who was mourning the same thing, St Pio wrote,
“Have you not sometimes loved the Lord? Do you not love God now? Do you not long to love God forever? Therefore, do not fear! Even conceded that you had committed all the sins of this world, Jesus repeats to you: Many sins are forgiven you because you have loved much!” (Saint P. Pio)
There are books like “When the well runs dry” by Thomas H Green, a Jesuit.
It’s not an unusual phenomen to become aware of the desert experience. But never fun. It is, though, a springboard for allowing God to lead us in His own way.
“This…is what I pray before the Father from whom every family, whether spiritual or natural, takes its name: Out of His infinite glory, may He give you the power through His Spirit for your hidden self to grow strong, so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith, and then, planted in love and built on love, you will with all the saints have strength to grasp the breadth and the length, the height and the depth; until, knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge, you are filled with the utter fullness of God.”
“Glory be to Him whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine; glory be to Him from generation to generation in the Church and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever. Amen.”
Jesus says, “I tell you solemnly, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” [Luke18: 17]
Therese of Lisieux elucidates how to live as child before God. “The only way to advance rapidly in the path of love is to always remain very little” “‘Remaining little’ means—to recognise ones nothingness, **to await everything from the goodness of God, **to avoid being much troubled at our faults; finally, not to be worried about amassing spiritual riches.”
“There is but one means of compelling God not to judge us, and it is—to appear before Him empty-handed…spend your treasures as you gain them…All my earnings [merits] are spent immediately on the ransom of souls…Our Lord is justice Himself, and if He does not judge our good actions, neither will He judge our bad ones.”
In response to a novice who was discouraged by her faults, Therese said, “You make me think of a little child that is learning to stand but does not know how to walk. In his desire to reach to top of the stairs to find his mother, he lifts his little foot to climb the first step. It is all in vain, and at each renewed effort he falls.” “Well, be like that little child. Always keep lifting your foot to climb the ladder of holiness, and do not imagine that you can mount even the first step. All God asks of you is good will. From the top of the ladder, He looks lovingly upon you, and soon, touched by your fruitful efforts, He will Himself come down, and taking you in His arms, will carry you to His Kingdom never again to leave Him. But should you cease to raise your foot, you will be left for long on the earth.”
To another, Therese said, “You want to climb the mountain, whereas God wishes you to descend it. He is awaiting you in the valley of humility.” “It seems to me that humility is truth (honesty).”
And you have that humility
Now just my words…
God, love and glorify Yourself in us
Almighty God, how can I fulfil Your commandments to others and to love and worship God above all?
Unlike holy souls who effuse great joy and praise, my attempts to love and worship You seem very poor. I am child of a scientific and empirical era in a world of physical realities and challenges. I desire faith in Your loving action in temporal affairs even where it is hidden. I desire to praise and love in whatever way You desire, however little understanding I have of Your ways and truth.
It seems to me that loving You is about choices. Jesus witnessed that our salvation depends upon love and service of God in other persons. He proclaimed that, “Whatever you do for even the least of my little ones, you do for Me” who am God. Therefore, we love and worship You in our care of others.
You command that we love others enough to strive even unto death of something of ourselves for their welfare, as Jesus did. I ask You to love others wholeheartedly in my thoughts, prayers, my words and actions. Please bring about blessings for them even in my worst failures to witness Your love. Please develop my trust in Your loving action in temporal affairs even where it remains hidden.
We glorify You in the Eucharist, that summit of worship, petition, and thanksgiving, God’s own offering and fulfilment through Son and Spirit, with the whole Body of Christ. We worship You in the Eucharist as individuals, yet as brothers and sisters of the community. Let me, let us, thus love and worship You in communion.
Blessed be Jesus, who gives us redemption and Eucharist. Blessed be the Spirit who channels His Gift, and gives us creative ways to praise and love God. Blessed be God who is able to give Yourself the honour and praise that we desire to give You.
God alone can appreciate the depths of God, therefore love and delight Yourself in us so that we truly love You. I ask that whatever my activity or state of mind, You will love and adore Yourself in me, our God. Delight Yourself within me in every moment of my existence. This is possible to You for whom “nothing is impossible.” [Genesis 8:14]
Jesus, pray in me
Jesus our Brother and our God, please continually pray Your perfect prayer in me so that I love and honour God, and so that I cherish and serve others in prayer and act, because each person is so precious to God.
Jesus, please ask the Father to honour my debts, for my intercession, penance and good works are no more than cheques drawn in His name. I have no coin of my own. Even my best efforts would be worthless if the Father failed to acknowledge me as His lawful child.
Jesus, You are Son of the Father and coequal of the Spirit. Only through Your incarnation, death and resurrection comes my claim to call God ‘Father’. No words or acts ever can thank You enough. I have little to offer but goodwill and effort and a heart sometimes grieved by unintentional injury of others. Yet I offer You resurgent hope raised by Your undeserved love, and faith encouraged by Your promise of faithfulness.
Please celebrate my trust in Your love and in the truth of who I am in the love of God. Heal any wounds I have left in others’ lives, and recreate our spirits in Your love. Then offer us as gift of Yourself to the Father who accepts all things through You.
Please take all the debts that by prayer for them, I incur for my sisters and brothers of the kingdom and of the world. Present these debts to the Father with Your transformation and blessing—for He will grant freely all that You ask and more, so deep is His love for You. Thank You, Jesus who are our redemption before God.
Our God, speak in me
God, please ‘speak’ in me all that is necessary for the fulfilment of Your desire for my life and for anyone You hope to benefit through me.
Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, in the infinite possibilities of Your love, You know what must be ‘spoken’.
Whatever entreaty and faith must be offered to obtain this ‘utterance’, please ‘speak’ also in me—for only You can.
I ask this for fulfilment of Your loving will in my life, and for the healing, repentance and conversion of souls whom You desire to save or bless through me.
I ask, and believe, that You continually utter Yourself in me according to Your eternal desire. You delight Yourself in me…in us!
Thereby, with our cooperation, You will fulfil our portion of Your plan of redemption. I trust this to the name of the divine and risen Saviour who shares our humanity.
In the presence of God
Our God, I cannot see, hear, or feel You, but I am in Your presence. I gaze at You with faith that sees nothing yet believes. Trust in Your merciful love with hope in Your reality, brings peace even when my limitations and sinfulness barb my human heart.
I am inconstant and selfish, yet unafraid and hopeful, for You rejoice in the sincere, contrite person who comes trustingly before You. I welcome Your forgiveness for my sins and omissions, confident that You will glorify Yourself in me—by being my thoughts, my efforts, my love, my truth, my wisdom, my whole life, prayer, and existence!
As I have no merit of my own, so may You, the more, glorify Yourself in me! Please flood me with Your love, transforming me into Your substance. Thus, even if I remain in seemingly unconverted darkness, I shall be continual offering to You of the perfection of Your own all-creating, all-knowing, all-loving, all-good, harmonious, selfless Love that created me.
Let Your love continually flow into anyone whose life touches mine, so that I am witness and experience of Your love for him or her. I pray, and trust, that You utter within me for others, all prayer that You desire to offer and grant in the love that issues from Your infinite presence.
Thank You God, for although I do not see, hear, or feel You, our God, I know that by Your life in me I am always with You. 1983
“Do not grieve…that you were born in a time when you can no longer see God in the flesh. That privilege was not taken from you. As Jesus says, ‘Whatever you have done for the least of my little ones, you have done for me.’” Saint Augustine.
God if I really knew Your love
Our God, I barely realise my blindness, deafness, and ignorance before You. I suspect the truths of Your love as distant music, though I yearn to know and love You. I desire to be pure, zealous and faithful after example of Jesus and Mary, so that through me, You may channel love and blessing to many others.
If I really knew You, God, if I knew Your love, goodness and power, Your ways and thoughts beyond all earthly kind, then what would I ask, seek, and offer to You and to others’ souls for Your sake! How would I live and serve, if I knew, and truly loved! What would I ask of You, of the Mother, of each Saint and Angel, in daring trust? These I ask anyway, although I am sinful, ignorant, and lukewarm!
My heart reaches out in quiet faith to the Father who is infinite Creator so great that He intimately cherishes each of billions of lowly creatures throughout the ages. My heart reaches out to follow the Son whom He surrendered to creature-hood and to death-that-rose, drawing each person into relationship with God. My heart reaches out to touch the Spirit, who transforms all things.
My self-interest undermines my spiritual vitality and efficacious service. I am an erratic, ordinary person, yet in Your intention, I am a glorious reflection of Your love.
No prayer and goodwill can free me from sinfulness, but with faith, I leap over this deadly barrier. For even as I strive or fail, I trustfully ask You to judge me neither by sin nor by merit, but only by Your love! Free me from Your judgement even in my flaws that may separate us or impede the flood of Your goodness through my life to others. I take to myself no merit to clothe my pride or to secure glory in heaven or on earth—so that You may apply these to other souls in need.
Our God, if by no judgement of my merit or sin do You love and act through me—then Your wisdom, goodness and life can engulf and flow from me to others. This music—of love and holiness, of You within us—may be pitched to perfection, beyond earthly perception. Yet please let each moment (each atom, all thought, word, and act, each frailty and each grace) of my life be transformed in Your love. Let it be formed into exquisite notes of Your eternal symphony to delight and praise You far beyond my understanding.
With faith, I offer You my daily duty and routine, with its joy, prayer, hope, and struggle. Let Your Spirit pray and fulfil in me all that I would become, seek, ask, and do, if Your love and truth were known to me. This, God is the lifelong prayer of this sinful, contrite, hopeful creature. November 1983
Desire to love God
Our God help me to persevere in prayer for all my loved and my unknown people although I cannot measure results. Help me to grasp that You love every person in all generations of human existence. Help me to know that it thrills You if I love You and that You care if I pray.
While I acknowledge wonderful things that we learn about You, and recognise that, with its attendant problems, creation is astonishing, I am puzzled that You desire our human love and praise! How can anything as numerous and puny as human creatures have power to please or displease God? Each year the flowers from the jacarandas fall to the ground in purple snow to be trampled underfoot. Each day countless people are born, and people die, their bodies rotting in the ground. How can it matter to God that we love God?
Perhaps someday You will place deeper understanding and experience in my heart. For now, I find meaning in trying to live the mission and image of Jesus with my limitations and the constrictions of my situation. I find comfort in ‘approaching’ Jesus ‘face to face’ in Eucharist, in prayer, and in daily life, as if I was His cherished child. I desire and seek to truly love God. I choose to live as if I love God.
You dwell in me, but I experience my frailties every day, while hoping that the face of Jesus shines to others from my life. Sometimes my little kindnesses warm others. Is this enough? At times to my grief, I inadvertently hurt or fail others. Forgive me. Please heal and bless them all. Love Yourself and each person through me. September 2003
Love through me
Our God, unless You love through me, I cannot love You above all, or cherish other persons, as Jesus loves me. Know, love and serve through me, for my attempts may be tainted with selfish responses or kindly mistakes.
Others’ logic and reality before You is mystery to me, for I have only my own consciousness. I know something of my sinfulness, yet what appears to be ‘sin’ in others may instead be a differing virtue, or a product of innocence or ignorance that only appears to be sin or error.
I ask You Who-Are-Love to be my love and service of others, welcoming everyone as Your beloved. I want to celebrate Your love, beauty and inspiration in others, even if it is obscure. Let Your Spirit fill my heart, mouth and prayer with gifts of Your love and truth for others. Let me be endowment of Your own self, Your sacrament, and our gentle Mother present to them. I ask this despite my evident failures in loving.
I believe that You will free me wholly into Your love, wisdom, and compassion. I wait humbly in my daily efforts, knowing that in Your mercy You will grant my prayer to love Yourself in me with all strength and being, and to love others in me with Jesus’ love.
Our God, I give You all I have and am, with my desires, attributes, inadequacies and sinful tendencies. To Your acceptance and disposal, I relinquish my spiritual ambitions, my lifelong prayer and service, and any ‘merit’.
Only pride or ignorance elevates any ‘virtues’ above my faults, because human nature is poor relative to Your infinite holiness and creativity. Let Your goodness be touchstone and essence of my response to all created things and persons—so that nothing can withdraw me from freedom of obedience to Your loving will.
To You I yield all my relationships, even those most dear. Let Your Spirit communicate and interact with them so that I no longer act selfishly and detrimentally to my own and others’ welfare, nor love anyone in preference to You.
I surrender to You all my thoughts, words and acts, so that You guide and complete all my responses and initiatives. Let Your Spirit flow creatively through my nature and action, so that nothing in me can confound Your loving purpose, nor will anything be inappropriate or harmful to any person.
Our God, I know that You pardon my sins. I know that out of my offences and omissions, You can through Your mercy create wondrous fruit. Please give boundless recompense to anyone who suffers through my fault. Please give limitless blessing to anyone who offers me even the smallest kindness, from earliest infancy until God unites me in beatific vision with the communion of saints.
I am Your child who has irretrievably surrendered all being, all gifts, all relationship, all virtuous effort, and all failure to Your merciful love. I claim You to be my whole existence, my breath, my blood, my very substance and all my thoughts and ways.
**Your action may be hidden to me in my inglorious daily struggle, my erratic judgement and frequently fruitless endeavour. It may be concealed under my sense of unworthiness and occasional desolation. **Yet in Your merciful love, please continually blaze Your pure love and truth within me, to Your glory and delight, and to highest service of other souls.
Translate me into Your own terms
Dear God, I choose to love You truly and to allow You to love and serve others through me. I want to live Your dream of me fully, but I may misinterpret Your will and inspiration as it refracts through my emotions and mental processes. Please nevertheless fulfil all that You desire through my life and prayer.
Flood Your love to others though all my efforts and errors. Grant me faith, fidelity, wisdom and prayer. Recreate me in the fullness of Your will and fill me with Your love, for sake of Your honour and delight, and for salvation of souls.
Let me be the person who You dream me to be, so that Your desire for Yourself and for each soul You place in my care or influence is generously fulfilled.
Translate me into Your own terms as I come contritely and gropingly before You in humble trust, with my imperfect efforts. I know that You have mercy on good intentions even if these are misguided. Yet please let me know Your will—for You have said, “I will instruct you, and teach you the way to go; I will watch over you and be your adviser.” (Psalm 32: v. 8)
God, for sake of souls, I commit myself and my entire life—past, present and future—to Your merciful love. I trust in Your love to accept this submission and make it complete.
Have mercy upon everyone whom You wish to bless through me, and do not let my limitations or doubts curtail Your use of me as vehicle of blessing or vessel of honour.
My faults are fragile barriers to the flood of Your grace, if I live Your will and have faith in Your powerful love. Deepen my trust in Your will to use Your limitless power of love even in me.
My human best
Our God, to the best of my human ability and knowledge at this moment, I give You everything I am and possess.
I stand before You foolish and unworthy yet with the best that I know to give—the offering of my being with its endowments and achievements, my warmest affection, clearest understanding, best contrition and the greatest honour that I can ‘achieve’ in this little instant of trust.
Behold me compassionately in the tiny human perfection of this moment, and grant me unity in the eternal immensity of perfection, which is You, our God. Thank You that You accept such meagre gift of life and effort in exchange for blessings and eternal gifts for other’s souls.
“A **spark **of pure love is more precious before God, more useful for the soul, and richer in benedictions for the Church than all other works taken together.” (St John of the Cross)
One life to give
Dear God, there are many beautiful, generous, wise and productive people in this world and throughout time. These ‘fully human, fully alive’ individuals are floodgates of abundant blessing to others and of great joy and glory to You.
I have many flaws and often make mistakes. I am inconsistent in charity, faith, wisdom and commitment. Forgive me, God. Yet even if I am less wise and less good than many others are, I have merely this consciousness, this body, this life that I can give You. There is no other self over whom I have right of decision and offering.
Only by Your miracles of grace can I give this ‘me’ totally, and in the way that You wish for Your delight and for others’ benefit. Please make it so, according to Your hope. September 2005
I consecrate my entire life to You. I cannot change others’ paths, but with Your Spirit, I can love You with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.
I have only myself to give. Please take all. Never let me go. Make me increasingly Your own. Let me live and accomplish, all that You dreamed of me from loving eternity. March 2005
My everything, our God, I give to You—every breath, each cell, all that I ever am, have or do.
Now I ask for Your everything—whatever You wish to give to me and to others through me.
Please nurture and grant this everything growth, blossom and fruit. Then that everything I do give to You—in time and eternity.
Puddle to ocean
Infinite God, in Your compassionate love, behold my limited faith, and in mercy transform even my deficiencies, defects and failures into good.
Within the perfection of Your life and being, please transmute my otherwise ineffectual prayer and action, to make this little puddle into an immense ocean full of good things for other souls. Thus, may I worship and serve You beyond all limitations, within the infinite ocean of Your love. 1
I could go on with that stuff, but basically, we can just try. I know I sum myself up as “I try”. It doesn’t mean God will make you holy, and certainly not that you’ll see yourself as holy. A genuine soul can’t see themselves as holy. I’m not, and it’s hard to know one is so poor at it all. And it’s also awful when even those holiest of things that you loved so much have lost the joy and enthusiasm to you, and you are left with just choosing God, not feeling His presence or the wonder. You can think you’ve failed, that there’s no hope, and sometimes, no matter how much you wish, your original fire doesn’t return…but the fire was a great buzz, wasn’t it! But really only God can make us holy and He’s way beyond even our highest thoughts and feelings so as folk like the great Carmelite Saints tell us in continuing to choose God, the gospel, the Sacraments, love of others regardless of any circumstances, that you’re actually closer, even if you seem to be in the dark, compared to God’s light.
It just isn’t much fun, and won’t really come to light for many of us until we die. I often feel a failure myself. I had a cry this morning in Communion for the same reason. Its great when we have the consolations of fervour etc, and a real test when you can’t feel those…but then on the Cross, Jesus cried out, feeling as He must, the depth of our shared humanity…“My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?” God hadn’t abandoned Him. He doesn’t abandon us, but sometimes we feel like it because it seems we’ve abandoned and failed Him, and yet we tried/try so hard!
It was either Saint Frances or Saint Josemaria that said start with the small and take care of those AND DON’T STOP THERE (A mistake it seems 99% of ALL PEOPLE IN ALL RELIGONS make) before you know it things have grown and grown and suddenly you are doing the impossible.
Thank you, Trishie.