By Karen Sheehy
“Conduct your affairs with humility and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts…what is too sublime for you, seek not…into things beyond your strength search not” (SIR 3:17-22).
The previous year of my spiritual life has been dry, extremely quiet, and, at times, lonely. Have you ever experienced this kind of barrenness or winter dryness in your prayer life? In hindsight, I should have anticipated such a season, for simultaneously, I was fervently praying for an increase in the spiritual gift of humility. Be careful what you pray for, my sisters in Christ!
Prior to this year long spiritually barren time period, I enjoyed over seven years of profound intimacy with my beloved Jesus, and an over-abundance of spiritual consolation. Is it any wonder, then, that this spiritual barrenness would prove so difficult? “My beloved Jesus, where are you?” I would say. “Speak to me, Jesus! Say something, please!” Despite these pleas, all I heard was crickets, and the occasional howls of the desert night.
As an Ignatian spiritual director “in training,” I understand the complementary nature and spiritual benefit of both the desert dryness and mountaintop wonders. On the mountain, we encounter the grandeur of God. In the desert, we find solitude and learn the invaluable lessons of trust and total dependence on a God, seemingly invisible but steadfast and true. Ironically, perseverance and trust, often arising from the quiet, prolonged struggles of life, frequently reveal the yet to be discovered goodness God is working out in our lives.
Today, I am glad to say that my own season of silence has ended, and that the abundant fruits, unexpected peace, and joy which followed have overwhelmed me! Take comfort, my sisters in Christ, in the spiritually barren times, and in your sufferings for the sake of Christ, for in them, Christians find humble praise and trust in a God who saves, loves, and calls us at the appropriate time.
“Take my yoke upon you, says the Lord, and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart” (MT 11:29).
In today’s second reading, St. Paul reminds us that we, as people of the new covenant, are not alone in the “gloomy darkness” of life. Through Jesus, the perfect mediator of the covenant, we can approach the “city of the living God, and heavenly Jerusalem” without fear or trembling. At every Mass, thanks be to God, we find our true spiritual consolation, and the abundant and seemingly invisible graces flowing forth from the “sprinkled blood” of the Lamb (HEB 12:22-23). There, we find perfect love, humble surrender, and the upside-down message of beatitude.
Closing Prayer: Humility is perpetual quietness of heart. It is to have no trouble. It is never to be fretted, vexed, irritated, sore, or disappointed. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me and when I am blamed and despised. It is to have a blessed home in myself, where I can go in, shut the door, kneel to my God in secret and am at peace as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and above is troubled. Amen.
About the author:
Karen Sheehy is a devout Catholic, wife and mother, motivational speaker, blogger, president of a non-for-profit, and developer of spiritualsafariguide.com, your passport to a world of spiritual inspiration and understanding. To learn more about Karen Sheehy and her newly released book entitled, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Trinity of Love, please visit http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com
Well-written. My latest children’s book, Mary Visits a Farm, teaches little children about the yoke of Christ
Such a simple but powerful image! A message which can give us all comfort. Enjoy your Sunday.
Maybe God gave you these experiences of abundant intimacy and desert barrenness to be able to help and encourage your directees when they come to you in the “dry bones” times in their lives. You will be a wonderful spiritual director for going through all your have been going through in your life. Nothing is ever wasted in God’s economy. Have a blessed day!
Thank you Paulette for your encouragement and for being a spiritual mother to me through some of these spiritually difficult times. The spiritual ups and downs are much easier to get through with your sisters in Christ at your side. This is the essence of WINE. I would agree with your assessment. The time I am spending with my directees is enriched by both the mountain top experiences and desert time periods in my own journey. Enjoy your Sunday as well!
Karen, you have always been my inspiration. I thank God for including you in my life. You are truly a blessing for our parish life.
Thank you Linda. Our small study groups are so important-I treasure each of you.
Such a beautiful prayer on humility.
Thank you for that.
Hi Jackie, yes I have been praying it for over a year now. Saying it alone is a humbling experience as I find myself so dependent on God daily in the face of its message-a tall order indeed. Blessings. Karen