Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My Lenten Reading

Recently I blogged about my "Sisyphus Syndrome". I mentioned in that post a friend who recommended a prayer of "Thank you, Jesus, for everything." I have really taken to this one-line prayer. For me, it works better than counting to ten or taking a few deep breaths. Sometimes I do that as well, but this little prayer really puts whatever has arisen in perspective.

The prayer came from a book entitled He Leadeth Me by Fr. Walter Ciszek. He was a Jesuit priest who spent more than two decades in a Russian prison after going to serve as a missionary in Poland during the war. He first wrote the book With God in Russia, which details his time in Russia (I will hopefully read this in the future). He Leadeth Me is not about giving an account of his time, but rather to show how his faith carried him through the ordeal. It is truly an amazing book and certainly what I needed to shed a new light on my Sisyphus syndrome.

In the following excerpt I read earlier this week, he talks of how often we try to tell God what His will is. I think this is the root of my Sisyphus problem. I forget my vocation in life will often seem monotonous and overwhelming. I feel over-qualified for dealing with endless mounds of laundry, piles of dishes, dirty diapers, and runny noses. I want to educate and train my children in virtue, but I didn't realize how that would mean the bulk of my day would often be spent in what I considered menial and endless tasks. Often it is hard to see success in these tasks. And yet, it is precisely these tasks that lead to my salvation. These tasks are part of God's will for my life. I should accept and bear them as such.

Ultimately, we come to expect God to accept our understanding of what his will ought to be and to help us to fulfill that, instead of learning to see and accept his will in the real situations in which he places us daily. The simple soul who each day makes a morning offering of "all the prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day" -- and who then acts upon it by accepting unquestioningly and responding lovingly to all the situations of the day as truly sent by God -- has perceived with an almost childlike faith the profound truth about the will of God. To predict what God's will is going to be, to rationalize about what his will must be, is at once a work of human folly and yet the subtlest of all temptations. The plain and simple truth is that his will is what he actually wills to send us each day, in the way of circumstances, places, people, and problems. The trick is to learn to see that-- not just in theory, or not just occasionally in a flash of insight granted by God's grace, but every day...
From He Leadeth Me by Fr. Walter Ciszek.

I want to keep typing more of this book. It is just amazing. I am only a few chapters into the book, so I wouldn't be surprised if there are future posts. If anyone decides to read this, I would love to try to do an online discussion.

No comments: