Thursday, August 7, 2014

Squeamish Prayer

She was a devout young Catholic.  She said many devotions, prayed a lot, and was very sincere in her faith.

A guy began courting her, a guy everyone else knew was troubled.  The guy was creepy and everybody
knew it.  But he was persistent and she seemed to want desperately to overlook his flaws.

He proposed and she accepted.  They had no marriage preparation, or so we were told.  None.  The family was connected in their diocese and managed to get a Catholic wedding set up without any prenuptial counseling.  Which was not a good thing.

The last time I saw her, she had been married only a few months, but looked dreadful - drained, exhausted, distraught.  My wife was convinced he was beating her, but of course we don't know that.

But here's what I do know.

I could tell by looking at this young woman that part of the burden of this bad marriage was the Unreality in which she stood before God.  What I mean by that is that (knowing her) she would be unable to approach God in prayer with any genuine honesty.  Instead of railing before God,

1. "Why did you do this to me, Lord?  I trusted you!  I thought this was the man you had sent me!  I saved myself for him!  And now he's making me miserable!  How could this be a wrong choice when I thought I was doing your will?  I'm so angry at You - and at him!" 

Instead of that, I imagine her prayer was ...

2. "Please turn his heart around, Lord, and help me bear my burden quietly.  I hope you don't think I'm complaining.  I don't mean to be.  That is all."

Now there's nothing wrong with that last prayer, but there is something wrong if she prays only #2 and never #1.

#1 is a prayer of Eros.  #2 is a prayer of Agape.

But #2 without #1 is Unreal.  God does not want us to be Unreal.  Our God is a God of the Incarnation and the Cross.  He gets down and dirty for our sake.

So turn to Him.  Don't cut off your heart from Our Lord, even the painful parts of it.  Give Him your all in prayer, even if that includes lamentation, wailing, screaming, shouting.  Get real with Him and He will get real with you.

There's a reason the book of Lamentations is in the Bible.  There's a reason why most of the Psalms are passionate cries from the heart.  It's to show us that we're not bad people when we cry out in pain; we're not bad people when we get real.


Drusilla Barron said...


boinky said...

I am reminded of the biography of Catherine Doherty (of Madonna house). She put up with abuse and infidelity by her husband, remembering Christ not answering back to Pilate. It drove her to the brink of suicide, until a wise friend reminded her that in the gospel of John, Jesus did talk back to Pilate and emphasizze the truth. In this case, one suspects a talk with a priest and an annulment is the way to go...yes, I know "good" Catholics think easy annulments are wrong, but from what I see (including my son's inability to get one) often the very real cases of marriages that were a mistake from the beginning are not annulled because poor people can't be bothered with all the paperwork.
As for me, I'm happy my husband's first wife was a rabid crazy fundamentlist who refused to marry him or have the marriage blessed by the church. True, he was excommunicated in those days for this, but it also meant we could marry without having to get paperwork to affirm she had mental problems and roped him into marriage to get away from her crazier mother.