Monday, April 11, 2011

At the End of My Rope

There are some things that make my heart hurt. A real ache.

I sense it when I read John 17. And that's what we're covering this week in my Paul VI class.

My heart aches because I hear the words of Christ. I know what He prayed for in His fleeting moments with those He loved dearly, with those He was sending into the world.

He prayed that their unity would be made perfect.

We are nearing that Holy Thursday, that hour of Our Lord's priestly prayer.

And we are not one.

Not even close.

Lately, I have been contemplating the Communion of Saints. When I came into the Church, it was easier to embrace this teaching if I distilled it into something I fully understood. The Saints in heaven pray for us before the Altar of Our Lord, before His Holy Throne. They are alive in Christ, not dead. And they are grafted into the Body of Our Lord. Their prayers are efficacious. As Sacred Scripture says, the prayers of a righteous man availeth much. And so it is with the holy ones in heaven. They pray with more efficacy than we can, because they are perfectly holy and one with Christ.

But there's more to this Communion of Saints than can be extrapolated from the title: heavenly prayer partners. And I'm getting it, bit by bit.

I'd share it here, but I still don't quite know how to capture it in words. Because it's more than my words. Bigger than that. I have this sense that I'm held up by these holy ones, embraced by them, encouraged by them, surrounded by them - and that's more than being a prayer partner. It is mystery. It is the Mystical Body of Christ.

The frustrating thing about not being able to put something into words is that I'm at a complete loss to share it with non-Catholics. My soul demands something of me (do all I can to foster the full Christian unity that Jesus prayed we would have), but my intellect and writing ability are not up to the challenge.

I have crossed the Tiber. I am on the other side. And I turn around to look at those I love who are standing on the banks on the other side of the Tiber. They are happy over there. Having a little picnic. Little gatherings dot that side of the River. Blankets and quilts. Clusters here and there. And I see my family happily gathered together in one spot. They sometimes glance across the River and look at me - wishing that I hadn't left them - not understanding why I felt it necessary to get to the other side.

I look down at the rope I am holding. I have tried to toss it to them so many times. And on days like today, I see that it is too short. I cannot, no matter how hard I try, span the distance and help them to get across the River to Rome.

The rope I hold is made up of words. Ideas. Clever metaphors. Inspirations. Analogies.

But it is not the right rope for this job.

How will we ever be one? Is it possible for Our Lord's prayer on the night He was betrayed to become reality - ever? 

Yes. It is possible. Archangel Gabriel proclaimed it. For nothing is impossible with God.

But the rope that is most trustworthy is not one that is made up of my own words. It is made up of Christ's words.

It is a prayer.

Father, make them one, as we are one. I in you, and you in me. That the world may know that you have sent the Son. And I pray not only for these, but for the ones who hear of me through them. That they, too, will be one. -Jesus Christ, on the night of the Last Supper.

1 comment:

  1. Perfect!I am on the team at our Church that is welcoming back fallen away Catholics.There are 8 of them and I know I don't have the ability to convince them that they are in the right place but Christ does and I will say this prayer every day for them.Thank you.

    BTW, I have been selected by the following saints to accompany me this Lent...and they are more than prayer partners:Gwen John,the painter,Therese Neumann ,the mystic,Blessed John Ruysbroeck and Charles de Foucauld.What an eclectic group but they are helping me,I know it.