All Who Are Weak

As I rushed from the library to my dorm, I remembered I still had an unfinished Rosary hanging over my head. Still, I galloped past the chapel, mentally turning over the half-dozen tasks I needed to complete. Later, I told myself, stifling my desire to pray with a reminder of the long to-do list awaiting me. But then I slowed my pace. 

Did I not have ten minutes to offer the Lord in between homework and working out? Did I not owe the Blessed Mother thirty "I-love-yous" that made up the last three Glorious Mysteries? The Catholic guilt catching up with me, I pivoted on my heel and crept in to the chapel, almost sulking. I have too much to do. I can pray later, I thought, my interior warring with itself as I slipped into the back pew.

Then the tabernacle came into view. 

Portiuncula Chapel, Franciscan University

Any tiny regret I had about entering into this prayerful place was banished immediately. In that moment, I realized that the Lord was calling me there, waiting patiently for me. He seemed to be beckoning, urging me to sit. Stay a while

I wanted to apologize for my behavior as a foolish child recognizing the authority of her parents. My resistance to prayer, you see, is not unusual. I tend to squeeze prayer into my daily routine rather than making it a central component of my day. Far too often, I fail to recognize that even ten minutes with the Lord feeds my ravenous soul. I ignore my hunger. I squirmed in the pew that evening, uncomfortable with my own impatience. The Lord patiently gazed back at me. He loved me then. He loves me now. He loves us all so much as to wait for us each day, to come to us humbly in the form of bread and wine and then to subject Himself to constant rejection. We certainly owe Him more than a few minutes of prayer, but sometimes that is all we can manage, and in His mercy He loves us nonetheless. Saint Francis de Sales teaches:

He who truly loves prayer loves it for the love of God, and he who loves it for the love of God wishes to experience in it nothing but what God is pleased to send him. You tell me that you cannot pray well. But what better prayer could there be than to represent to God again and again, as you are doing, your nothingness and misery. The most touching appeal that beggars can make is to merely expose to us their deformities and necessities. 

I am nothing more than a beggar. Even that day, I did not finish my Rosary in the chapel. I did, however, slow my pace just enough to feel the irresistible tug of Jesus' love. And, oddly enough, I did not regret spending ten minutes in prayer. I wish that I spent more time with Jesus that evening. 

When the Lord tells me to slow down, I tend to hear Him and ignore Him. When we don't think we have time to pray, it is then that we need to pray. The Lord is waiting. 

Sit down. Stay a while. 

Christ the King Chapel at Franciscan (spring 2015)

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