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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Let My Cry Come To You

I can't understand how I can be so surrounded by sacramentals and theological tomes, prayer books...and prayer itself...and still be running from God. And feeling so abandoned by God.

All day long, other than my rosary en route to work this morning, I have been avoiding God. I left work in order to return home, still struggling with the papers that are due this weekend, and not ONCE did I open my Liturgy of the Hours. Once home, I simply chose not to leave again, favoring my solitude, choosing not even to invite God into the work I think I'm doing for and with Him.

One of my papers is nearly done; it needs only a conclusion. The other needs approximately 500 words...and much better organization. I'm going to call that class a wash. At this point I barely care. And my other class...well, that one won't be a well-done assignment, either. Such is life.

En route to work this morning, as I prayed, the familiar doubts crept into my mind. Who is God? Where is He, really? Do I REALLY believe all this stuff? Do I really want to give up my entire life for these beliefs?

I reminded myself that faith, while it is a gift, it is also an act of the will. Yes, I choose to believe, even when it's hard. Even when I "get nothing" out of it. Even when God's voice is silent, both personally and through the voices of others.

So all day, although I normally pray the different hours (some days better than others), today it remained in my bag, untouched. Finally, this evening, knowing that there is a reason these volumes were gifted into my hands, I opened it up. The feast days STILL confuse me, but 1130 was indicated so I opened to that page and began to read.

That reading quickly turned into the prayer I haven't been able to formulate today.

Psalm 102

O Lord, listen to my prayer
and let my cry for
help reach you.
Do not hide your face from me
in the day of my distress.
Turn your ear towards me
and answer me quickly when I call.

For my days are vanishing like smoke,
my bones burn away like a fire.
My heart is withered like the grass.
I forget to eat my bread.
I cry with all my strength
and my skin clings to my bones.

I have become like a pelican in the wilderness,
like an owl in desolate places.
I lie awake and I moan
like some lonely bird on a roof.
All day long my foes revile me;
those who hate me use my name as a curse.

The bread I eat is ashes;
my drink is mingled with tears
In your anger, Lord, and your
fury you have lifted me up and thrown me down.
My days are like a passing shadow
and I wither away like the grass.

I'm constantly amazed at how the psalms speak so clearly in the voids where we cannot. Even if the words aren't exactly right, the tone, the sentiment, everything expressed so often fits the situation.

When I was a teen, I remember opening the Bible to the psalms, and I remember, over and over, reading this exact psalm. The situation was different, I didn't have the same understanding, but then, as today, I know that God drew me to those words...and into them. It is not so much that they express my deepest thoughts, but more, that God communicates something to us through them, and draws us to willingly reveal ourselves more honestly to Him.

God already knows our inmost being, far more than any of us ever will. And yet, here I am, as usual, running away from Him. Avoiding Him. Knowing that He knows all, He understands all, and yes, even that I believe in spite of the doubts.

Here I am, having been delving deeply into different facets of theology all day (and I'm not nearly finished), still trying to escape. But I can't. And you know...I'm tired. I'm tired of running, and of having nowhere to flee. I'm tired of seeking, not really knowing my goal. And I'm tired of watching my life pass by, day after day, not really sure why.

Today, I'm withering away like grass, and my life is a passing shadow.
Lord, let my cry come to you.



X said...

Praying for you, Dear.

The Zapman said...

I'll be sure to add you to my prayers tonight.

If you have the 4 volume set of the Liturgy of the Hours, there is a little white guide published for it which gives you the pages and everything. It should make it easier.

Here are the links at Amazon:


And, 2009:

You can find them at just about any Catholic bookstore as well.

I hope this was helpful.

Anonymous said...

angela ~ thanks

zapman ~ I have the guide, but the feast days are still confusing. I need to talk to someone else who prays it regularly and is not confused about the same things I am. Guides aren't enough...people who know whey are are doing and are physically present...very helpful.

The Zapman said...

Well, I'm not sure what issues you're exactly confused about, but I do pray it regularly, and I'll try and answer them as best I can.

The Zapman said...

Also, St. Peter Canisius Apostolate has been doing a series on the Liturgy of the Hours that may be of help.

Mark said...

I think what you're feeling is something that all people who take their faith very seriously sometimes feel. People like Therese of Lisieux and Mother Theresa obviously experienced it in a very extreme form at times.

Hans Urs von Balthasar sees it as a kind of sharing in Christ's own sense of being abandoned by God ("Lord, Lord, why hast thou forsaken me?), and regards it very much as a sign of God's love and grace which enables those who feel distanced from God in this manner to move closer to Him at a more profound (if less obviously consoling) level.

Adoro said...

Zapman ~ Thank you, but I think when I get a chance, I'll ask Father when I go to work. I've been meaning to and just haven't done so. After all...I can find all sorts of resources online. What I need is someone to stand there as I physically turn pages and have that person, in real life, explain things to me. Computers are great, and I'm a voracious reader. But some things require humanity, not a screen. I'm sure you understand.

Mark ~ I don't think that's it; because my interior life has not progressed to the point that you describe with those people. God does withdraw consolations for us all from time to time, but I would not describe this as that kind of abandonment.

Anonymous said...

Adoro, we seem to be in the same place right now -- I've been going through similar feelings too. Nothing seems to help, but I just keep praying, because, what else is there to do, really? As St. Peter said to Jesus, "You alone have the words of eternal life -- to Whom shall we go?" So we just take one step at a time, hold to the hem of His robe, and trust in Him to guide us where He wants us to be. So I'll make sure to include you in my own prayers. Hang in there, and God bless us all.


Mike T said...

Hmm. Even when moaning on the rooftop or hooting in desolate places, I seem to continue eating. And I'm not talking ashes here, it's more likely to be donuts or chocolate. Am I perhaps more bovine than bird or psalmist?

Well, I am also quite fond of Psalm 102, even if I'm not in the same league.

Anonymous said...

Several years ago, we had a couple of masters (John Hardon & Jude Mead) teaching a summer course fo r sisters, very close, so we were all encouraged to take the classes. All the theory and breaking the faith down to its most minute components left a really bad taste in my mouth. I realized that NONE of it was a help to get me to heaven. I apparently need my faith simple, and whole. I don't think I will ever be asked to study theology again.

Unknown said...

One of the strange things that happens when one studies theology is exactly the questions that you are asking. I don't think they mean that you are losing your faith I think it means that your faith is being proven and tested as in a refiner's fire.

Perserverence is what you need right now. Do what you can and pray where you are. This came to pass it didn't come to stay.

Anonymous said...

I was reading your story as if I was reading mine. I go through the same every now and then - most especially when I am facing trials and in pain - and God seemed to have abandoned me. But God, in his infinite love and faithfulness, always manage to prove to me that he is alive. He always finds me each time I’m lost. When I am going through these episodes, I would grab on to my rosary and put on my praise and worship music all day long. Focusing on his love and keeping him in my heart, mind and soul strengthens me and my relationship with God. I know as human being, we will continue to be tested but not abandoned. Hope you find the answers to all the questions you might have about your faith. I will keep you in my prayers. God speed.

Banshee said...

Adoro -- I was just watching that EWTN show with (Fr. Trigilio?), The Five Pillars of Faith. Anyway, the host talked about desolation and aridity, both to get people to stop sinning and then to get saints to stop being attached to consolation. BUT he also talked about "the withdrawal of ordinary consolation" being for most of us who are in the middle, a cue to look and see how we can deepen virtues and stuff. He suggested that you look at the list of the Beatitudes and find something to work on.

So maybe that will help.

Re: theology

Well, theology's normally taught in a very analytical way, and if you're not really into systems and analysis, that style of teaching isn't going to help. You probably want to find an author or teacher who better fits the way you think, and who has a more overtly devotional focus to learning theology. I'm not sure where you'd find that; so maybe just start browsing around?

Honestly, theology is full of things that make you love God even more. You just need someone to explain the nuggets. The Pope's talks on the Apostles and the Fathers have a lot of that, and they're short enough that his tendency to be a "slow starter" is sped up quite a lot. (He likes to lay out a few facts in front of you, and then fit the puzzle pieces together and show you a picture that blows your mind.)

You might like somebody like St. Catherine of Siena, who is constantly showing the feeling behind the theology, and who circles around and around to get deeper and deeper into it.

A lot of people like Peter Kreeft, and you can listen to some of his talks from his website.

I really have come to like the Fathers, because they often have some really good stuff. But again, you kinda have to browse to find people you like who talk in a way you like.

Good luck! And ask around.

Anonymous said...

Maureen ~ This really doesn't come from a professor or a method of studying theology. I referenced the tomes and sacramentals because of the wealth of spiritual resources around house is practically a church! lol

We study patristics, spiritual theology (just wrote a paper on St. Catherine of Siena's Dialogue), reading St. Teresa of Avila, and really, the professor in the types of classes we have really has almost a minimal impact; we only attend class once per month. (This weekend, actually ,leaving shortly).

But I think you might have read too much into this post, which was a spur of the moment snapshot.

I know about ariditiy and the withdrawl of consolations, and as I said, I think I know what caused the "issue" of the other evening when I wrote this. But it's not something I'll discuss in a blog.

I do thank you for your advice, however, for even though I've given that very information to others, there mmight be someone who comes across these comments and HASN'T heard that before.

OK....I'm off! Wish me luck! I'm about to turn in a REALLY BAD paper! (Not the one on St. Catherine...that one is decent...)

Banshee said...

Adoro --

Sorry I wasn't clear on my theology comments. I was replying to the post about disappointment with theology classes by "youknowwho", above.

I know you're good with it! You're a crazy theology class-taking machine! :)

Anonymous said...

Maureen ~ Sorry, I should have gotten that. My excuse...I was really tired and distracted

You might be surprised to know thought that "you know who" is actually someone who knows more than we do. :-) (I can't say who that person is, though.)

But please, don't ever assume I don't know something. I've learned a LOT from all y'all!