My present situation is a cozy one: dimly-lit living room with The King’s Speech (my favorite along with Stranger Than Fiction and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers) playing quietly in the background while my husband makes his way home from running errands and all of Northern Louisiana holds a silent vigil, waiting for Isaac to knock on our doors.
It was 7 years ago that Katrina smote New Orleans and the Gulf; that she stripped thousands of their homes, families, and lives and left a terrible wound that’s still bleeding in the deep south. It’s crazy how I was then so oblivious to the devastation, tucked safely within the borders of my landlocked state, and that others who regarded their days as “normal” as I did mine, were not granted another. When you live a life of ease, so to speak, it’s common to take for granted the most miraculous of blessings, like another day. I have no idea what the chances are that there won’t be a tomorrow for me, but I count on it. I count on my future decades in advance and it’s only when I consider my life in 50 years that I wonder if I’ll be around. Surely I’ll be around in 45.
I’ve heard a million songs dedicated to the idea of living each day to the fullest and read as many sentiments commanding people to carpe diem, lest you run out of diems by morning; and to be honest, the idea is slightly trite to me. To the notion of depending on another tomorrow, someone would undoubtedly say, “You never know! Live like each day is your last!”; and while I appreciate that idea, I confess it doesn’t often occur to me to put it into practice. At the risk of seeming hardened, generic sentiments pouring from Live-Laugh-Lovers are usually lost on me because I’m not a huge fan of cheesy catch-phrases telling me to dance like nobody’s watching. When I’m not examining the true motive behind such sentiments, I’m a bit prideful toward them and their seemingly smarmy coating.
I had an awakening today, though.
In yet another spiritually refreshing conversation with my sister Jen, she mentioned and read to me St. Josemaría Escrivá’s prayer to the Holy Spirit and I at once felt that this prayer caters to one of my most persistent faults: hesitation.
Come, O Holy Spirit:
enlighten my understanding
to know your commands;
strengthen my heart
against the wiles of the enemy; inflame my will…
I have heard your voice,
and I don’t want to harden my heart to resisting,
by saying ‘later… tomorrow.’
Nunc coepi! Now!
Lest there be no tomorrow for me!
O, Spirit of truth and wisdom,
Spirit of understanding and counsel,
Spirit of joy and peace!
I want what you want,
I want it because you want it,
I want it as you want it,
I want it when you want it.
I am blessed to be aware of God’s will in the smaller moments of my life; I hear Him beckoning me to quiet prayer or humble servitude throughout my day. I undergo tiny conversions and learn lessons within my soul that should be sure to stick; but they don’t. I italicized my favorite part of the prayer because I can speak it in all truth and shame – how often the Lord begs my attention and I hesitate on the basis of resting or squeezing in a quick shower while my boys are napping. True, both are good things as are the rest of the reasons I find to postpone prayer, but I see now more clearly than before that this is the devil tempting me away from the Lord’s persistent calls. With all my heart, I want to run to Christ and imitate Him; to be holy, humble, and happy and yet I resist like billions of fellow sinners. And for what? I know with confidence that God will attain and provide my needs better than I could track them down myself and He does so when I offer Him all of my self and time. The solution is so simple – answer the promptings of the Holy Spirit when you feel beckoned to prayer, even if it’s brief, and entrust time to Him.
I can’t claim that I’ll never resist God’s call again from now til the day I die, but I think it’s important to chase that idea of carpe diem and other sentiments within the context of faith. God offers you time NOW – nunc coepi! – to know and love Him and since He Who is Omniscient does so without flaw, it accentuates the concept of no time like the present. He knows when the best time is and desires only the best for all souls. Though I’m sure I’ll live to see several more tomorrows, I don’t want to waste a single one choosing the misery and mediocrity of self-preference over God’s peace and love. After all, you only live once, right?
One of my very favorite priests from the Lincoln Diocese, Fr. Scott Courtney, suggested the Gospel of John as a starting point for reading Sacred Scripture. The Bible is HUGE and I’ve often wondered where to start. “Start at John,” he says confidently. And so I have. Today I read chapter 1 and I plan on reading one chapter per day. It’s through reading the Gospels that Christ invites you to know Him better and in doing so, your experience of the Mass will be that much greater! After reading the Gospel of John herself per Fr. Courtney’s recommendation, Jen said, “I know now whom I’m receiving.” Intense. How well do you know the Savior you receive?