November 15, 2012

On Candy Corn And The Cross

Brothers, I could not talk to you as spiritual people, but as fleshly people, as infants in Christ. I fed you milk, not solid food, because you were unable to take it. Indeed, you are still not able, even now, for you are still of the flesh. (1 Corinthians 3:1-3a)

One of the things about prayer is getting through your head that prayer is answered. And it's not even that, because when we say 'pray is answered' we're just embracing a sort of optical illusion of the spiritual vision; prayer is the answer, since it is our response to the Holy Spirit praying in us, through the Son to the Father.

Sometimes we don't notice the answer to prayer because it's so immediate, obvious, and plain.

Here's an example. How many times in my life as a Christian have I prayed in something like this form:

'God, I am willing to suffer, I am willing to suffer doubt, uncertainty, confusion, even to just not even knowing what I am or what you are. I know that this is part of what it means to embrace the Cross of Christ, and it is even what I am asking for when I take Holy Communion and put his broken and sacrificed Body into my body and soul. But please, Lord, just give me something today, a little consolation, a little something or other, interior or exterior, to give me enough certainty, enough courage and strength to get through the day. But if not, Lord, I offer you the sufferings of my doubt and confusion for everyone in this world who might be in despair today or who suffers in any way.'

It was years and years before I realized that to be inspired to make the act of the last phrase was the answer to the prayer of the phrase before it. To be given to make the final act of the will was the consolation, the grace, appropriate for me to receive as an answer to prayer. I just didn't recognize it as such because I was looking for something less immediate, more grand, and more consoling to the flesh. I wanted the milk, not the solid food.

In the life of the body, we take for granted that a moment comes when we move from our mother's milk to solid food. We grow up, physically anyway, and eventually we wouldn't even want to eat candy corn for breakfast. But in the spiritual life the analogous transitions (of which the physical ones are signs and vestiges) can be much harder to make. And if we're always looking for the spiritual candy corn in our prayer, we're not going to see the graces God is just dying--literally--to give us.

1 comment:

Louis M said...

Thanks, Father.

Brilliant and beautiful meditation.