Hear our voice, O Lord, according to your faithful love.
Margaret Olley (Australian, 1923-2011). Evening Kitchen Still Life with Apples 1991.
With God in the darkness
I am quite sure that there will always be moments of inner peace and joy as a result of spending time in prayer for those of us who do not regard ourselves as greatly advanced in the spiritual life. Nevertheless, the experience of many of us is that prayer can be very hard work indeed. Quite often prayer is unrewarding and there is not much joy in the doing of it. It is at moments like these that we can be tempted to give it up. That would be the fatal mistake. We have to keep going. one reason is this: we are learning that an important part of prayer is to please God. We want to please, so that is why we pray. Carrying on when we seem to be getting nowhere is a proof of our faithfulness to God, and it shows that we are selfless and generous in our service of him. We are prepared to do the right thing for his sake, and not for ours. From time to time our motives must be purified and so must our hearts. We shall be asked, perhaps, to experience only darkness in our prayer life. We find ourselves without any support. Nothing is of any avail. Spiritual books, fine thoughts, great sermons—they leave us cold and unresponsive. That can all be very disappointing when we can honestly say that we have done our best to be faithful to prayer. There is a reason for this too. Our faith is being purified. This means that we are being led to trust less and less in ourselves, in our own ideas about God, and more in God himself, and in God alone. We have to go through these periods of darkness in order to be able to receive his light. And when faith is purified (and it can be a painful process) charity increases. We love more.
Basil Hume, To Be a Pilgrim (SPCK/St Paul Publications, 1984)
O Gentle Light, from Sergei Rachmaninov's All-Night Vigil. Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Vladimir Miller (bass), dir. Paul Hillier
May God our Redeemer show us compassion and love. Amen.