Ok, so I've been a Postulant (a.k.a. "nun-in-training") for almost two years, so maybe it doesn’t come as a big surprise that I’m a bit smitten with Jesus. To clarify, though, I mean “awesome” not in the way it's used to describe a good pizza, but in the literal sense: “inspiring wonder, awe or fear.”
I have so many reasons for being in awe of Jesus, but one big reason I've been praying with lately is just how patient he is with me. Think about it. Nine times out of ten, when someone is asked what they feel a need to grow in, the first thing they think of is patience. Personally, I find it easy to think of the many people and situations that test my patience. I often forget that others have many opportunities to practice patience with me! But Jesus doesn't struggle with that. Love is patient, and his love is perfect.
So when I find myself bringing the same thing again and again (and again!) to the confessional, when I catch myself in the middle of saying something uncharitable, and when I struggle with doubts, it’s so consoling to know that he’s patiently waiting for me to come back to him with my whole heart, as we hear in the reading from Joel on Ash Wednesday. He invites me to come back. And when I wander, he sends the invitation again and again. The really beautiful thing about this is that each time I return, he draws me in deeper and deeper to the mystery of the love he has for me and for each person I meet.
One of my favorite quotes, something that has brought me so much consolation over the years, is from Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman. In it, he explores this same mystery of the Lord’s patience with each one of us:
For in truth we are not called once only, but many times; all through our life Christ is calling us. He called us first in Baptism; but afterward also; whether we obey His voice or not, He graciously calls us still. If we fall from our Baptism, He calls us to repent; if we are striving to fulfill our calling, He calls us on from grace to grace, and from holiness to holiness, while life is given us. […] He calls us again and again, in order to justify us again and again—and again and again, and more and more, to sanctify and glorify us (from the book Life’s Purpose: Wisdom from John Henry Newman).
When I read this, I imagine Jesus smiling at my efforts, gently lifting me when I fall, and excitedly encouraging me to follow him just a little further.
With Lent approaching in just a few days, I find myself looking for ways in which I can respond with enthusiasm to Jesus’ calling me on and on. What are some things I can do to escape my inclination to selfishness, pride, and whatever else might be bogging me down spiritually? I’m sure I’ll find a few things I can give up, but there’s another positive action that I’ll be taking, and I invite you to join me.
See, one of the things that most strongly drew me to the spirituality of the Daughters of St. Paul was that in addition to our mission of using media to help spread the Gospel, we also take very seriously our mission of making reparation for media that is harmful to souls. As a former youth minister I have a deep appreciation for what the media is capable of, for better or for worse. There’s no need to fear these wonderful tools, but we do need to pray for them to be used in a way that is consistent with the Gospel and human dignity. So, I invite you to join me in praying the following prayer (or one you yourself write) throughout Lent, and may the fruit of this effort truly communicate to the world just how awesome Jesus is!
in union with all those
who today celebrate the Eucharist
I wish to offer myself, a small victim,
with Jesus, the Victim:
-in atonement for error and scandal
spread throughout the world
through the misuse of the media of social communication;
-to appeal to your mercy for those persons,
who, deceived and seduced
by the influence of these instruments,
stray from Your Fatherly love;
-for the conversion of those persons
who, in the use of these instruments,
reject the teaching of Christ and His Church
and thus warp the minds, the hearts,
and the undertakings of men and women;
-that we may follow Him alone whom You, Father,
in Your boundless love
sent into the world saying:
“This is my beloved Son, hear Him.”
Julie Turner, Postulant of the Daughters of St. Paul