“What I Wish and Desire”
Make a little time for God and rest a while in him…. Speak now to God and say with your whole heart: “I seek your face; your face, Lord, I desire.” —St. Anselm “
These Cleansing Tears”
A woman was ready to pray. These were days of retreat dedicated to prayer with Scripture. This day she felt drawn to pray with the trial of Jesus. She writes: The scene came alive in my imagination and my heart. I saw Jesus standing before Pontius Pilate and his accusers. How could Jesus stand there while everyone called for his death, I wondered. How could he be so calm? As I placed myself completely into that scene, feeling Jesus’ calmness, I began to hear Jesus saying quietly to the crowd, “Yes. Take me. Do what you want with me, for my death will be your salvation.” I could see the Father hugging him tightly. “Give yourself over to them,” God told his Son. “I can never let you go, no matter what happens. I am with you. You are safe in my arms.” After a long period of prayer, I realized that the Father was within me as he was within Jesus. He was also holding me: “Do not be afraid. You are safe in my arms.”3
Seventeen years earlier, this woman, Kathryn, had been admitted to a hospital for a simple outpatient surgery. She was young, healthy, strong, and capable. Soon after the surgery, however, something went terribly wrong. Four days later, she learned that she had suffered a stroke. Years of struggle with severe physical and emotional disabilities followed. Kathryn strove to cope with these disabilities and her efforts were, in some measure, successful. Yet deeper struggles remained. Now grace was about to touch that deeper level.
Kathryn continued her prayer: On another day, I contemplated Jesus right after Pilate had condemned him to death and washed his hands of the whole affair. I saw Jesus dragged off by those who wanted him dead. The moment of terror I felt, as his final walk through Jerusalem began, was excruciating. I prayed many hours, holding that terror in my heart, desiring to comfort Jesus, to tell him I was there for him and that I would not leave him alone.
Kathryn shares Jesus’ final walk through Jerusalem in deep communion with him. She desires “to comfort Jesus, to tell him I was there for him and that I would not leave him alone.” Kathryn draws close to Jesus as she prays. Her prayer deepens further:
One day in prayer, I stood beneath the cross and sank to the ground at its foot after he had died. I had told Jesus I would not leave him alone, and so I stayed there keeping watch. I kept the cross before my eyes for hours, feeling the sorrow Mary must have felt, as I asked for the courage to stay near the cross. It was at this point that my retreat director pointed out to me that perhaps God was bringing together Jesus’ experience and my own. I began to cry when I returned to prayer. For several hours, in prayer … scenes of my hospital stay after my stroke so many years before alternated with scenes of Jesus’ passion and death. It was like watching a movie. My moments of loneliness and fear alternated with Jesus’ loneliness and fear. I cried inconsolably for hours — seventeen years worth of tears. God was truly embracing me tightly and saying, “Do not be afraid even of this. I am holding you tightly and nothing can hurt you.”
Kathryn describes the fruit of those blessed hours:
These cleansing tears began a process of healing, a miracle of God’s love for me as I began to pray over my “passion.” Just as I, in that prayer, had remained beneath the cross after Jesus had died, I now saw Jesus sitting on the floor at the foot of my hospital bed keeping me company. As I had stayed with Jesus, he now kept watch with me. The many lonely years of struggling with the consequences of my stroke … were “healed” in this prayer…. I began to see that though I had kept myself at a sufficient distance from God to protect myself from anything else God could “do” to me, God nevertheless had waited until the right moment to “seize me by the arms” and turn me toward him.
The eye of faith clearly perceives the authenticity and richness of this prayer. Before it, we simply stand in wonder and praise. These “cleansing tears” begin a process of healing that Kathryn, after years of helpless struggle, knows to be a miracle of God’s love. Her prayer with Jesus’ passion leads, by God’s loving gift, to a healing in her own “passion.”
Kathryn tells us that, as she prayed with Jesus’ passion, “the scene came alive in my imagination and my heart.” She hears Jesus speak. She experiences the Father’s loving presence to Jesus and his loving presence to her. She shares with Jesus his final walk through Jerusalem. She stands beneath the cross and accompanies Jesus in his final hours. Her own passion alternates with Jesus’ passion, is enlightened by Jesus’ passion, and is healed by Jesus’ passion. She sees Jesus keeping watch with her in her hospital room … and cleansing tears begin to fall. Is such freedom possible in praying with Scripture? Can we too be present to a Gospel scene and live it from within in this way?
Is such prayer open to all? Is it possible for everyone? Is it possible for me? These are fundamental questions for prayer, and much depends upon the answers to them. (Pg.196)
Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V. is an American Roman Catholic priest and the Denver-based author of ten bestselling books on the theology and spirituality of Ignatius of Loyola. He served for ten years as provincial superior of his Catholic religious congregation, the Oblates of the Virgin Mary. Wikipedia
WE&P by EZorrilla.