My summer spiritual reading has sort of moved on from 'I Believe in Love'. I say 'sort of' because I'm often right back in the pages of that book - reflecting with it on events of the day, or something that hit me in my prayer time. I'm mindful that if I can find a heart soaked in 'the little way' of St. Therese, I can be a man in service of the Father, His Son, and His Church.
My current read (though I can't quite call it a read, its more like a prayer journal, guided meditation, or something like that, as my spiritual reading becomes more and more) is "Christ: the Ideal of the Priest" by Blessed Columba Marmion. Our new Vocation Director recommended this to the seminarians of the diocese - and it appeals to me because of Dom Marmion's Benedictine roots.
Now remember - with my spiritual reading, I don't aim to go fast. My goal isn't to finish the book quickly and move on to something else, but rather to use it frequently thoughout the day to invite me to prayer, to help me see how God is living and working in my life, and to bring me back to center. So don't laugh when I say that after starting last week, I'm only on page 44.
Just now, with the masses and parish celebrations concluded for the day, I took a few moments to re-center before relaxing this afternoon. And wow... I found more than I knew I was looking for. Here's what Dom Marmion had to say that bowled me over:
But I do recommend you strongly - for it is of the utmost importance - to try to walk in the way of sanctity which God has chosen for you. He alone knows your weakness..., and in His wisdom, He has measured exactly what you are capable of, and what is the power of the graces desgined to support your progress. [It is by the] acknowledgement of [your soul's] powerlessness and in [your soul's] expectation of the help of grace, [that you open yourself] to the influence of the Lord, and increase [your] capacity for the divine.
Wow. He knows. I mean, of course He does, but I don't think I ever quite paid attention to it in this way. God knows my every weakness - all the areas in which I struggle. My shortcomings and sins that are known to my family and friends, spiritual directors and priests... the one's that are obvious with just a few minute's observation. And He knows the ones that are more internal, that are sometimes hidden from view, or much more private. He knows even those I don't know clearly myself, haven't discovered or found a way to see and acknowledge myself. He knows them all...
...and yet He still calls. He calls me forward first and foremost into love and service to Him whatever that may mean. Each day, there is a growing sense on my part that He calls me forward into service of the Church as a priest. We won't know that for sure unless/until the day the Lord speaks with my bishop's voice to call me to Holy Orders - but even if that isn't the path, I see and know and accept and surrender as fully as I can to this reality: He knows, and yet He calls me to Himself.
And not only does He know, but He knows EXACTLY. And He ALONE knows. And yet He calls. And He calls - with the specific, and exact, and tailored graces I need - not to accomplish my own will or plans or dreams or goals - but to accomplish that which he has intended for me to accomplish from the beginning of time.
I'm amazed at such intimate love - I'm amazed at being so intimately known, and accepted. One of the Eucharistic Prayers (II) includes these words, led by the priest, that we pray to the Father:
"We thank You for counting us worthy to stand in your presence and serve You."
How amazing that - being as unworthy as we are, we are nevertheless counted as worthy enough to even stand in God's mighty presence and serve Him - not our merits, but truly the only merit ever to exist that could make such a thing possible is that of Christ Himself.
There's a lot of water to travel under the bridge before I know with certainty whether the Father calls me to the priesthood - but if I am one day ordained to stand at the altar acting in the person of Christ, and speak those words to the Father on behalf of and with the community... 'thank you for counting us worthy to stand in your presence and serve you...' - I hope I never forget that for each one of us, this is no generic statement.
God knows - ONLY God knows - my weakness, my unworthiness, my shortcomings... He knows, and yet He still calls. I acknowledge my powerlessness - and with joy and assurance, I rest in expectation of the graces that God will provide.