Time to get more practical! What are some concrete ways for me to live my life for Jesus? Well, let’s look to Scripture for some answers. Acts 2:42 gives a brief, but clear blueprint from the earliest Christians.
This short teaching explains the role of the Holy Spirit in prayer. Your prayer life isn’t going so hot? Invite and embrace the Holy Spirit who has been given to you!
Romans 5:5 – The love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit…
Romans 8:26 – for we do not know how to pray as we ought…
Living Flame of Love, Stanza III: Oh lamps of fire…
Today begins the Sacred Triduum, the holiest time of the year. In these moments, sometimes I feel so deeply my human weakness and inadequacy and I say like Romans 8: “I do not know how to pray as I ought.” Come Holy Spirit, aid me in my weakness.
As I’ve prayed this Holy Week, I have been assisted in my weakness by poetry depicting Christ’s Sacred Heart and his love for us amidst suffering. If your heart needs assistance in these days, here is the poetry I’ve been praying with.
Rock of Ages
There is an everlasting home
Where contrite souls may hide,
Where death and danger dare not come–
The Savior’s side.
It was a cleft of matchless love
Opened when He had died;
When mercy hailed in world’s above,
That wounded side.
Hail, Rock of Ages, pierced for me,
The grave of all my pride;
Hope, peace and heaven are all in Thee,
Thy sheltering side.
There issued forth a double flood,
The sin-atoning tide,
In streams of water and of blood
From that dear side.
There is only fount of bliss,
In joy and sorrow tried;
No refuge for the heart like this–
A Saviour’s side.
Thither the Church, through all her days
Points as a faithful guide;
And celebrates with ceaseless praise
That spear-pierced side.
There is the golden gate of heaven,
An entrance for the Bride,
Where the sweet crown of life is given
Through Jesus’ side.
– M. Bridges
O Soul of Jesus
O Soul of Jesus, sick to death!
Thy blood and prayer together plead;
My sins have bowed Thee to the ground,
As the storm bows the feeble reed.
Deep waters have come in , O Lord!
All darkly on Thy human soul;
And clouds of supernatural gloom
Around Thee are allowed to roll.
My God! My God! and can it be
That I should sin so lightly now,
And think no more of evil thoughts
Than of the wind that waves the bough?
Shall it be always thus, O Lord?
Wilt Thou not work this hour in me
The grace of Thy passion merited,
Hatred of self and love of Thee?
Oh, by the pains of Thy pure love
Grant me the gift of holy fear;
And give me of Thy bloody sweat
To wash my guilty conscience clear?
Ever, when tempted, make me see,
Beneath the olive’s moon-pierced shade,
My God, alone, outstretched, and bruised,
And bleeding, on the earth He made.
– Fr. Faber
St. Francis Xavier’s Hymn of Love
O God, I love Thee for Thyself
And not that I may heaven gain,
Nor because those who love Thee not,
Must suffer hell’s eternal pain.
Thou, O my Jesus! Thou didst me
Upon the cross embrace;
For me didst bear the nails and spear
And manifold disgrace;
And griefs and torments numberless,
And sweat and agony;
E’en death itself–and all for one
Who was Thine enemy.
Then why, O blessed Jesus Christ,
Should I not love Thee well?
Not for the sake of winning heaven,
Or escaping hell;
Not with the hope of gaining aught, not seeking a reward;
But, as Thyself hast loved me, O ever-loving Lord?
E’en so I love Thee, and will love, and in Thy praise will sing;
Solely because Thou art my God
And my eternal King.
Here’s what Cardinal Mercier had to say:
Everyday I want you to close your eyes for a few moments and enter the chapel of your baptized soul, and there realize that God himself dwells. Pray this prayer:
O Holy Spirit, Soul of my soul, I adore you.
Enlighten, guide, strengthen, and console me.
Tell me what I ought to do and command me to do it.
I promise to be submissive to everything that you ask of me, and to accept all that you permit to happen to me. Only show me what is your will.
As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” -Matthew 9:9-13
I’ve been sitting with this passage for the past few days and it’s had such an impact on me. Even though I’ve probably heard the principle beneath the surface several times before, this passage has taught me the key to discipleship. It’s a principle that could almost certainly be found other places in the Scriptures, especially anytime Jesus calls someone to follow him. Let’s take a closer look.
Up to this point, Matthew has been a tax collector. At the time of Jesus, tax collectors are known to be among the worst kind of people. They make their living by taxing people more than they ought. They either steal money from the poor or they make people poor. It’s gross. Anyways, that’s not the main point.
Jesus came to Matthew in his sinfulness and called him to be his disciple. Matthew got up and followed him. He left his entire livelihood behind at the sound of Jesus’ voice, the voice which can penetrate even the hardest of hearts. Powerful! What happened next is the main point I’m trying to get at. What did Matthew do when he began to follow Jesus? He ate with him and reclined with him. In other words, Matthew first rested with Jesus before doing anything else.
In our relationship with Jesus, we so easily get caught in the trap of thinking, “How can I serve you, Jesus? What do you want me to do for you? I’ll do anything if you just tell me to do it. What’s my vocation in life, anyways? What’s the mission you want to give me?” We’re so focused on serving the Lord that we forget discipleship begins with simply learning how to be with the Lord. Too many Christians have bought into the idea that being a disciple of Jesus Christ is all about working for him. If that’s all it’s about, then we’re nothing more than high-level servants of Jesus, but he wants so much more. He wants us to be his friends!
Discipleship begins with simply being, with spending quality time with Jesus. Once I learn my identity as a disciple of Jesus Christ, then I can go out and share in his mission. What is his mission? His mission is making more disciples, which means inviting more people to the table of Jesus! It means showing others how powerful it is to simply rest with Jesus!
The message of this passage is clear: disciples of Jesus Christ need to rest with their master, their friend, before they can do anything for him. Once they have rested, the work isn’t even done for Jesus, but it’s done with Jesus. Resting with Jesus can make a world of difference.