From Father's Desk

Dear Parish Family,

Some aspects of life are hard to grasp and some prayers in life are hard to utter. It can be easier, simpler, less demanding to walk on by rather than enter int0 the muck of the situation, but often the latter leads to greater lessons and deeper wisdom.

During these weeks of Lent, we have been confronting some of those demanding life moments, leaning in and reaching out for the hand of God in the darkness to lead us and guide along the narrow paths that lead to the more abundant life we crave. We were made to live in communion with God and as Augustine prays, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in You, O God” That rich reality does not make the road any easier.

In preparation for ascending the high road, that road less traveled, it is prudent to have some prayers at the ready for when the going gets tough. Two prayers have served me very well through many years and trials. The First is the prayer on the back of the prayer card we have been handing out. Saint Ignatius of Loyola composed The “Suscipe” Prayer (named for the first word of the prayer in Latin) as a foundational utterance for the Society of Jesus he founded. He wanted his men ready to surrender everything back to the Lord. “Give me only your love and your grace; that is enough for me,” - to speak those words with trust and sincerity of heart is hard. It takes a great deal to believe that God will really give us all we need and so everything we have can be returned to Him.

Blessed Charles de Foucauld composed the second prayer, the Prayer of Abandonment, as a missionary hermit in Africa. It begins, “Father, I abandon myself into your hands.” Do with me what you will… Let only your will be done in me and in all your creatures, it goes on. These are not easy prayers to offer with deep trust and conviction, but challenging words that really cost us to speak with fervor and humility. Some of the commentary related to this prayer admits that we cannot speak these powerful words alone. We need Christ to pray with us. Really, these are the words of Jesus spoken to our Father and when we offer that prayer genuinely, it is really Christ Jesus who prays in and through us to make that self-offering. We are uniting our offering to his perfect self-gift on the Cross.

In point of fact, I prefer the Prayer of Abandonment because it echoes more closely some of the words of Jesus we hear today in the Gospel (Luke 22:14-23:56). Twice Jesus prays in words that contain the core of these prayers. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prays: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.” (Lk 22:42)  And when about to die, Jesus again addressed the Father: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Lk 23:46) These are words of surrender, offering and what spiritual theologians call self-abandonment. One famous book by Fr. De Caussade carries that title, and I highly recommend it! Whenever we face some challenge, perhaps the simplest prayer to offer is: Your will be done, Lord - from the Our Father. Or “Let it be done to me according to Your will,” the words of Mary offered at the Annunciation. In each case, we perceive deference, humility, trust, confidence - a willingness to hand over what is not really even ours, our own lives. Everything, everything is a gift from God to be returned. With the psalmist we say, “How can I make a return to the Lord for all his goodness to me?”

Yours faithfully,
Fr. Wilson