Third Week of Lent: February 28-March 5
Reflection - Vito Baldini "Prayer in my mess"
Some months back, I embarked on a journey through Saint Ignatius of Loyola’s “Spiritual Exercises.” I was instructed by my spiritual director to spend 30 minutes a day in prayer while working through the exercises. If you know me at all, I like to attempt to do everything perfectly. I set up a prayer room in my house, purchased a candle, and banished my pet rabbits out of the room in order for it to be distraction free.
In my striving to do it perfectly, I got up early in the mornings, or set aside a portion of time later in the day. But this striving did not stem from a desire to experience God, but rather to gain acceptance and approval from others. While I began to embrace my perfection, I was unaware of the transformation I would encounter from the opening prayer (by Tomas Merton) for week 1.
“My God I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so”.
With time, I began to go into the prayer room and see that it had become a mess. Laundry had begun to pile up, my wife’s multiple sewing projects were scattered across the floor. My response was anger. “Don’t you know I can’t pray in here now? How am I supposed to meet Christ in this mess?”
At that moment I was struck with a dumbfound glimpse of the Gospel of God’s grace to me in Jesus. The whole point of praying the exercises was to see that I had no clue what I was doing and that God entered into the mess of my life, “my sin,” of which I have plenty. He moved toward me in my mess, not away from me. I did not need perfect order for everything to be right. God had moved toward me long before I had any idea who he was. I then was drawn to one of the reflections where God was truly my savior yet again in my mess.
“For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life”.
Understanding my humanity and my failings and giving up control (or the illusion of it) have been the best thing I have learned as I embarked on this spiritual journey. So no matter where you are in your journey during this lent season, give up your illusion of control and ask Christ to meet you in your mess.
*A process of decrement and christian discipleship that was developed over year of refinement by Saint Ignatius of Loyola the founder of the Society of Jesus also know as the Jesuits.
* A prayer by Thomas Merton
To read more Lenten reflections, visit our Lent/Easter page and download our Lent Prayerbook to follow along with us this season!