Thursday, March 19, 2009

'Thanksgiving in Time of Desolation'
By FATHER DANIEL A. LORD S.J. (1888-1955)

The following is from Christ in Me (Bruce Publishing, 1952), a book of thanksgiving prayers to be said after Mass. Father Lord intended it especially for nuns and other religious who receive Holy Communion daily.

1. Lord Jesus, present in my heart, I confess to you the sorrow and desolation of my soul. I ask you to speak to me, to console me, to give me the vivid realization that God my Father loves me, that you my Saviour have come to me as my nearest and dearest Friend, and that the Holy Spirit dwells within me, waiting to light my darkened way and warm my chilly soul if I will only give Him the chance.

2. How easy and meritorious it is, dear Lord, to serve you when you are sweet and tangible and my way stretches smooth in the white and gold of the sunshine! How hard it becomes to serve you when the clouds lower, the thunder rumbles, and the earth seems to quake under my feet! Yet my service when things are easy is perhaps hardly worthy to be offered to you. When your grace is making my tasks light and my burdens sweet, when my cross is entwined with roses, what have I really to offer to you, my Saviour? Now I have something worthy to present to you. I give you my service because I find service hard. I offer you obedience because inwardly I rebel against obedience. I smile despite the loneliness of my heart. Because I myself am sad, I will hurry to do what I can to make those around me happier. That may be worthy offering to you, dear Saviour. May I ask your acceptance of this offering?

3. "Into each life some rain must fall, some days be dark and dreary." Do you mind, dear Lord, if I quote thoughtfully those rather commonplace lines of a poet? Today those words happen to be particularly true for me. Life is measured in sunshine and rain, in laughter and tears, in happiness and pain, in crowns won and crosses borne. No life can be exempt from this motley division and diversity. I cannot expect to be different from the rest of mankind. For some the early days are easy and the latter ones hard. To some is given the disappointment of never reaching your house or following their desire to enter your services. Some know the pains of sickness. Some are weighted by a sense of continuous failure. I must have my share of trial. May I then, dear Lord, accept what you send me now as my portion of the darkness of Good Friday? Life knows only a very small proportion of unhappiness compared with the happiness that you constantly shower on the world. Perhaps what I now experience is my rightful share of unhappiness. Let me be aware how trial and storm sent or permitted by you hold the implicit promise and unspoken hope that, knowing storms and problems now, I shall know not too remotely my full share of happiness and peace.

4. A soul is tempered in trial. This too is platitude; but to my consolation it remains absolutely true. I have too deep and unreasonable a pride; surely I cannot continue to be proud now that I know how far down I can go into depression and near despair. I have a love of physical comfort; but now I know that physical comfort fades in the presence of spiritual trial. I could easily be cold and hard toward others; never again should I be otherwise than tender and sympathetic with others' weaknesses and sorrows, for I have known weakness and been acquainted with sorrow. I have learned pity because of my need for pity.

5. Lord Jesus, it is your desire to see me happy. In religious life I was meant to know real peace and joy. You have been good to let me know my sorrows early. Once the storms have passed, I can be certain of my share in serenity. If now you are silent, I can wait in the certainty that you will speak soon. The cross is heavy now. But your shoulder is under that cross, waiting for proof of my courage before you take it wholly upon yourself. You are giving my soul its trial by fire; out of that trial it should emerge purified, tender, merciful, and kind.

Lord Jesus, I accept my time of depression. I ask you to use that depression for my soul's advancement and for the development within me of deep understanding for the trials of others. I await your voice whenever you are ready to speak again. I look forward to the peace you have promised we shall someday know. Out of my depths let me rise to a new stature of purity and courage. It may well be that I shall find you in the depths before I shall find you upon the heights.


FURTHER READING: Father Lord's autobiography, Played By Ear, is available used from and may be read online for free at the Internet Archive.