How does the act of praying for others become vainglory for me? This isn’t a decision I make, or even notice as it is happening. I love praying for others. I really do — I can’t wait to have a quiet moment to say a rosary for the Christians being attacked in India and Iraq. I love to petition our Lord for others in need. I love to feel like I am working with the Body of Christ and praying in union with so many others for the greater good. I especially love when I see God answering prayers. Either wanted or unwanted answers, either way I love to see his work being done — it may be a joyful answer to prayers or a sorrowful answer to prayers. Either way, his will is what I want.
Did you notice how many times I said “I” in the last few sentences! Lately I have been praying for an understanding of suffering and to understand humility more. God is good and smacked me 🙂
I went to an Abortion Clinic to pray for the first time last week. A wonderful friend of mine took me and my 2 kids with her and her kids. As I prayed, I was distracted by myself asking God to send us the face of someone who needs help. I didn’t think to ask this…it just popped in my head. I know that for me, sometimes it is nice to see a face of a person you are praying for. Selfish, but human. I was thinking at that moment of a scared young mother, a woman in a crisis pregnancy or maybe a woman who is in a financial crisis. For the life in a mother’s womb that God allowed to be there and touched himself at the moment of conception by placing the soul there, he wants to gift the world with that life made in his own Image. Now, I am in no way prepared to be a sidewalk counselor. But I was with someone who’s mother is, so I knew we could refer anyone in need to someone who could help. As this thought of putting a face to my prayer entered my head… I dismissed it because I know that it is silly to ask this, so I just ended the thought with…”Sorry God, I didn’t mean to ask that of you, I want only your will.”
As we were getting ready to leave, a woman stopped to yell something at us. With out thinking for a second I answered “No, it’s not…it is God’s work” I don’t know if it is a good example to say anything back…it just came out. I am sure God is going to help refine me in these matters. But, there it was. My face that I prayed for, only not at all what I had thought of. I am busy praying for the mothers and the babies, they need it. But what about the angered people out there, the workers, the doctors, the security guards. If they didn’t have employees they couldn’t continue the work of evil, this culture of death. Pray for the workers of abortion agencies. After all, it is easy to pray for those we love or feel for — but what about our enemies, people who hurt us, betray us, cause harm to us or others. This is just like what Jesus teaches us in Luke 6
“But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic.
Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same.
If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit (is) that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, and get back the same amount.
But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Be merciful, just as (also) your Father is merciful.
That was my first lesson in humility. To want to see what I want even in the midst of being prayerful is an act of pride. To even think that I would have any idea who my prayer would be offered up for is almost an act of disobedience to the Holy Spirit. I hope I will learn to say in service to God “Take my prayer for good to be done through only your Divine Will, not my ownl”
Then, this morning I was was reading Catholic Culture’s Saint of the Day, and admiring Waltzing Matilda’s coloring pages. I loved the St. Bruno coloring page. We are part German, so we are happy to learn more about St. Bruno and the Carthusians. Which lead me to this site that Catholic Culture linked too. I love the pics and I can’t wait for the movie to be shown on EWTN about the Carthusians. That is when I clicked on this pic
I had never been to this site and I don’t know much about it, but the pics or breathtaking. As I looked at the pic I was admiring how beautiful yet simple it is. I thought to myself how glorious it would be to serve there and to spend a life in prayer. I noticed the dust on the gorgeous wood and how the light captured the scratches and dust on the floor. I admired the grand structure and the art, but the servant in me wanted to polish the wood! I thought what a treat to work and serve there saying prayers in silence and offering up your work to Our Lord. Then what a gift to see it all shine! Here it is again! My selfish desire to serve God in the way that would be peaceful and fulfilling for me! Now, let me just say that when it is a suffering to me, I receive it and offer it up. It is the everyday stuff that is not a real suffering but more like an annoyance that I struggle with. This is how I am — I don’t complain when I am down right cold and it is clear that I have to be cold and to be tough about it. But, if I am a bit chilly and I don’t have to be — then I am a big ole baby! (like when hubby has the air on in the car, if he is hot and I am cold…oohh I am a bear about it!)
So here is my second lesson. It is easy to pray when you are hurt, scared, lonely or to pray when you are in a wonderful prayerful, peaceful moment. But, what about when I am cleaning up spilled tea when I warned it would spill, the dust on the mini blinds that I hate to clean, when my kids are fussing and acting up while trying to have a peaceful moment saying the Rosary, or when a child brings you a can of pringles and by the time they get to you they have shaken it into a million tiny pieces? How about those little annoying sufferings, service and work? Do I thirst to make those moments shine like I wanted to do for the wood in the Carthusian room.
Who do I serve when I pray? Is it vainglory or charity? I know that God is polishing my scratches and hopefully I will have all my rough edges smoothed by the time God calls me home.
Or at least in time for me to joyfully serve Our Lord by offering up my house work in prayer and go get those mini blinds dusted and then not complain about it to my hubby and not fuss at my children to play nicely while I do my work. Seems I have been trying to learn this lesson
for a while now!