I have now got me a whole stack of Fr. Walter Ciszek prayer cards which I obtained by filling out a form and sending it through the mail with a check, old-school, to the Father Walter Ciszek Prayer League.
There were a few to choose from. I went from the image on the front which kind of doesn’t even look like the one in the photo but no matter. The surrender prayer on the back, especially considering what he went through, both broke and spoke deeply to my own heart. Even after they let him come home from Russia, Father wrote about how he felt a stranger.
THE PRAYER OF SURRENDER BY SERVANT OF GOD FATHER WALTER CISZEK, SJ
Lord, Jesus Christ, I ask the grace to accept the sadness in my heart, as your will for me, in this moment. I offer it up, in union with your sufferings, for those who are in deepest need of your redeeming grace. I surrender myself to your Father’s will and I ask you to help me to move on to the next task that you have set for me.
Spirit of Christ, help me to enter into a deeper union with you. Lead me away from dwelling on the hurt I feel:
to thoughts of charity for those who need my love,
to thoughts of compassion for those who need my care,
and to thoughts of giving to those who need my help.
As I give myself to you, help me to provide for the salvation of those who come to me in need. May I find my healing in this giving. May I always accept God’s will.
May I find my true self by living for others in a spirit of sacrifice and suffering. May I die more fully to myself, and live more fully in you. As I seek to surrender to the Father’s will, may I come to trust that he will do everything for me.
Reading the Rule of St. Benedict this morning, I came across a job that (with the exception of “sensible”), might be perfect for me: The Porter of the Monastery:
“At the door of the monastery, place a sensible old man who knows how to take a message and deliver a reply, and whose age keeps him from roaming about…Let the porter be given one of the younger brothers if he needs help.”
Actually, maybe not, as I’m also prone to roam…still, something to look forward to.
Speaking of old, later in the morning, I received a request for a photo and short bio from a retirement community outside Washington DC. They want to include me in their newsletter, as one of the residents appreciates my work!
I immediately wrote back and asked if they could take care of me when and if I get Alzheimer’s.
They said sure, and way apart from that…yesterday on my walk I was asking myself why on God’s green earth I even maintain this blog and my other stuff. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it’s a ton of work–whether to make myself feel useful or to plant a random give-glory-to-God seed or for my own bloated ego, I have never been able to figure out.
Every time I think of simply giving up and withdrawing to the secluded hermitage where I would not be intruded upon, feel embarassed or exposed or uncertain, and not be exhausted most of the time, a tiny letter from the world that never wrote to me (see the Emily Dickinson poem) floats in.
I think of my own mother, for whom I forever wish I had been more present, who was also in an assisted living facility, and died of Alzheimer’s.
And just for today I figure if one elderly-type person anywhere in the world is consoled by my words, I will keep going, and writing, as long as there is breath in my own increasingly decrepit body.
Check out Fr. Donald Haggerty’s series on contemplative prayer and St. John of the Cross on the podcast Discerning Hearts. I think it’s in this one, but just listen to them all, where he talks about how an abbot completely transformed his monastery by putting his monks under obedience to stop seven times during the day for one minute, and turn their hearts and minds to God.
A Holy Hour, of some kind, is even better–but if we can’t for whatever reason, swing that–anyone can stop for a minute every couple of hours. I think Fr. Haggerty is right that such a simple action would prove transformative.
Finally, God help me, I will be in Guatemala the First Week of Lent. Pray for me.