One more thing I want to share with you about my eight-day retreat. Following Ignatius’s example, Sylvester, my spiritual director for the week, encouraged me to ask God for the particular grace I wanted to receive from God in each prayer. For example, in one prayer I asked for the grace to have a felt knowledge of God’s love for me. In another, Sylvester suggested I ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to me what I received from my childhood.
Sometimes I received the grace I asked for, but other times I didn’t. When I talked with Sylvester about it, he wasn’t perturbed in the least. “If we don’t receive the grace we ask for, that’s all right. We can trust that God will give us what we need in due course,” he said. “However, if we feel responsible for receiving any grace, this will lead us away from God into desolation.”
That reminded me of something Sylvester explained earlier in the week. He talked about Jesus being “Lord.” He said, “That word is out of fashion these days, because we don’t have lords or subjects any more. But in Jesus’s day they did. Subjects did whatever their lord wanted and lords, knowing their subjects were completely dependent on them, took care of their every need.”
It’s hard to imagine this system working well because many lords abused their power and neglected their responsibility. But what about Lord Jesus? Now he is a lord that takes his role seriously. So much so, that he laid down his life for his subjects. Night and day he attends to every detail of our lives and does whatever it takes to enable us to receive and give love. Sometimes “whatever it takes” includes not answering our prayers the way we would like him to.
Ignatius believed that “all the things in this world are gifts of God, presented to us so that we can know God more easily and make a return of love more readily.”
“But what if I’m doing something wrong when I pray that is blocking God from giving me the wisdom or strength that I need?” I asked.
Once again Sylvester smiled at me lovingly. “You worry about God, and God will worry about you.”
That meant I don’t have to fix myself or try to be more than I am, even if being “more” would make life so much easier. All I need to do is receive what my Lord gives. Good Lord, what a concept!
“See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell
you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these.
If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and
tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of
little faith? Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life… But seek first
his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you
as well.” — Matthew 6:25-33 (NIV)
Credits and references:
“I’ve Got Nothing” by Garrett Charles. Used with permission.
An excerpt from Principal and Foundation of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, paraphrased by David L. Fleming.
“Hand in Wild Grass” by Lloyd Morgan. Used with permission.
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2015.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission from Esther Hizsa is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used provided there is a link to the original content and credit is given as follows: © Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013, 2014, 2015. http://www.estherhizsa.wordpress.com
Great post – so much wisdom here. Thanks for sharing.
You’re welcome. Sylvester’s words helped me so much, I was glad to pass them on.