I always have high hopes for a holy Lent. I make plans for getting my prayer life on track and for adding some other disciplines.
But usually, I find after a certain point my efforts are futile. Or, I can make an effort successfully for a day, and then see everything fall apart the next.
For example, I know my prayers in the morning will go a lot better if I do not look at my phone first thing. If I check my email, or worse, check Twitter or Facebook, then there’s a good chance my prayers will be perfunctory and superficial or worse: they are not prayed at all. Sometimes, though, even if I don’t check my phone, I can feel like I’m going through the motions as I pray the office, pray the Rosary, and so on, as if these are duties I have to check off every morning. Certainly, I feel a lot better if I do these things, but is checking off a list what it’s all about? It seems to take a lot of time to press in to the Lord among crowded thoughts, pressing work, and even when I take the time, it can feel dry some of the time.
Saturday, I woke up, checked my phone, made breakfast and never bothered to do my morning prayers. I spent the morning on the internet. In the afternoon, I went to a baby shower where there were all kinds of goodies and I ate everything in sight. Even though I was doing what I wanted to do in the moment, I had this sense of blowing it, of feeling “Meh!” and,worst of all, apart from God. At the same time, I was also asking why I had to work so hard to find Him. I really had been trying previous days. Okay, some of them!
I guess God heard my complaint, because before going to bed that night, I had that wonderful sense of being drawn into prayer, instead of having to force myself. My spiritual director encourages me to sit quietly and ask the Lord for a word, which I often don’t do. But I did in that lovely peace Saturday night.
What came to me were the words “Ravish me” —-because I vaguely remembered a poem by John Donne, which I rediscovered lately when I googled those words. Donne was born to a recusant family, but turned against the Catholic Church after his brother died in prison of bubonic plague. The brother had been imprisoned for harboring a priest. Donne eventually became an Anglican. I guess we could call him patrimonial.
This poem became my prayer: