Saturday, April 7, 2012

Take from me this lukewarm fashion

Give me, good Lord, a full faith and a fervent charity, a love of you, good Lord, incomparable above the love of myself; and that I love nothing to your displeasure but everything in an order to you.
Take from me, good Lord, this lukewarm fashion, or rather cold manner of meditation and this dullness in praying to you. And give me warmth, delight and life in thinking about you.
And give me your grace to long for your holy sacraments and specially to rejoice in the presence of your blessed body, sweet Saviour Christ, in the holy sacrament of the altar, and duly to thank you for your gracious coming. AMEN.
This is an excerpt from a prayer St. Thomas More wrote shortly after being condemned to death for remaining steadfast in faith and truth. The prayer in full can be found here and I would suggest taking a moment to read it. I recently purchased a prayer book for Eucharistic adoration (in an attempt to encourage myself to attend more often) and while using it to pray before the Blessed Sacrament after Holy Thursday mass, I came across this excerpt from St. Thomas More. I read through the prayer a couple times before noticing who had written it and when I saw "- St. Thomas More (1478 - 1535), English Martyr" after the closing lines of the prayer, I was amazed. I have always felt a connection of sorts to St. Thomas More, he is the patron of the parish I have attended since childhood (and was in when I encountered this prayer) and he is also my confirmation saint. As our world grows more and more secular, I find that I am remembering him more often. I feel like he understands what the Church in America has been undergoing these last few months, especially, because he endured similar struggles during the upheaval of Catholicism in England. In the end, he died "the King's good servant, but God's first."

I often fall into the trap of thinking that saints have always been "saints". In other words, as if they were always as holy as they were at the end of their life. It makes it easier on me, really, because if saints are not sinners, and I am a sinner, then I don't have to be a saint. Clearly, this is a seriously flawed thought process, but I think we all fall into it from time to time. If saints were just like you and me at some point in their life, then it is possible for us to be like them at the end of ours. So at the end of St. Thomas More's life, he died rather than betray God and His commandments, but what about before that? How did he get to that point? I think this prayer sheds some light on that journey and can help us reach the same end.

Give me, good Lord, a full faith and fervent charity...Take from me this lukewarm fashion
Apathy and indifference are strangling us. We have become a people who's philosophy of life is "Whatever...". I am absolutely guilty of this. Life is easy and doesn't require much of me, so I do not want to give much in return. This is dangerous. Not only does God tell us that He will spit the lukewarm out of His mouth (Rev 3:16), indifference leads us to stand by and do nothing while atrocities are committed. The lukewarm heart is not moved by the crucifixion and death of its Lord. It takes for granted the saving grace available through His Sacred Blood. Everyday, we must pray that God give us a passion for Him so we do not fall into apathy.

Give me your grace to long for your holy sacraments and specially to rejoice in the presence of your blessed body, sweet Saviour Christ, in the holy sacrament of the altar.
As we pray for a fervent faith and love, we also pray that we may fully embrace the sacraments. That we are not content with the bare minimum, to receive Jesus once a week and to receive the graces of confession once a year when not in a state of mortal sin. We pray that God would give us a passion for His sacraments, especially the Eucharist, the source and summit of our Christian life. It is through receiving God's grace regularly that we maintain our passion and zeal for Christ and His Church.

May this prayer, that strengthened St. Thomas More to stand fervently for Christ to the end, strengthen us also to live out our Christian faith in the world.

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