Last night, at approximately 11:30 pm on the very first day of the New Year, the year declared by our Holy Father as the Year of Faith, I closed my book, turned out the light and slid to the floor. God felt very near, there in the pitch black night.
An emotion, one that I was grateful to experience, kept washing over me. 2012 had been year of pain and struggle on so many levels and I was worn out from trying to figure out how prayer mattered. I wanted with everything in me to keep believing that it did but it didn’t seem to be true. All around me, not only in my life but in the lives of my friends and even in the lives of people I had been asked to pray for, the scales laden with unanswered prayers had long ago tipped over and spilled to the ground. I just couldn’t silence the doubt that had crept into my mind and chilled my soul little by little.
I had experienced this strange joy-sapping state years ago – I could remember it vividly. I didn’t know what God was doing then but I gradually came to suspect that He was cleaning house and I might as well stop trying to scrutinize His methods. At some point later, months later perhaps, I found myself on the other side. Joy was trickling in – I could hear it singing deep within me.
Something akin to this experience occurred again last year, culminating over the Christmas holidays in an all-pervading listlessness. I just didn’t get it – why did God appear so indifferent to our suffering? I had one weapon I knew to use against this devastating doubt and I feebly continued to employ it hoping that by doing so my faith would not be extinguished. It was the weapon of praise, also known as making an act of faith. Quite often when these doubts assailed me, I forced myself to praise God, to repeat things like, “God you are all good and merciful and deserving of all my praise. God I love you.” The darkness did not completely recede, but I consoled myself with the hope that these acts of faith were accomplishing more good than I knew.
So getting back to last night on my knees – my love for Jesus was palpable. My clarity of mind was instantly restored, just like the night sky beyond my four walls. The night had been bitter cold, one of the coldest we had experienced in a long time with thick clouds blanketing the moon and stars. All at once the clouds receded and the heavens appeared sharper and more brilliant in their breathtaking majesty.
How had it happened? It was the simplest thing in the world. I had been lying in bed wrapped in heavy blankets, dwelling on my problems, as usual trying to figure out what God was doing and feeling more and more hopeless. Suddenly I became aware of the Lord. There He was, waiting longingly for me to stop focusing, for even a second, on my fears and to look up at Him. I struggled for a few moments. Was that really God or my crazy imagination? I would have to get up out of my warm bed and kneel down in my frigid room, trusting the intuition that told me that God was waiting, offering me His warmth.
I thought, “I need Him. I need Him more than I ever have before.” I climbed down and knelt in the silence. A feeling of love enveloped me – I was safe in the strong arms of my dearest friend. He enwrapped me and pulled me to Him, tighter than a mother snuggling her baby. All was well, all manner of things would be well.
What had I been thinking? Why had it been so long since I had crawled up next to His Sacred Heart and rested there, allowing my worries and fears to fall away?
I could not solve all my problems, they would all still be there when I arose in the morning, but what did it matter – I had Jesus.
“O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor are my eyes haughty; I busy not myself with great things or with things too sublime for me. Nay rather, I have stilled and quieted my should like a weaned child on its mothers lap, [so is my soul within me]. O Israel, hope in the Lord, both now and forever.” Ps. 131