Letters from a Pastor to His People- May 31, 2020
A priest friend of mine recently shared with me Teilhard de Chardin's Prayer of Patient Trust. Let me share it with you here. It is fitting both for the celebration of Pentecost, which is this weekend, and for the COVID crisis.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
I don't know about you, but I most certainly resonate with this prayer. It is hard for me to trust in the "slow work of God," as I am impatient and desire reach to the end and not suffer through intermediate stages. Whether it's growing in holiness, deepening my knowledge of God, learning how to play the guitar, or helping the parish, I want to go right to the finish line.
Do you feel similarly? What is the end (or the ends) to which you are striving? Is it hard for you wait patiently? What happens for you interiorly when you hear that God works slowly and that his progress takes "a very long time"?
There is wisdom in de Chardin's prayer. God's hand is guiding us. There is no doubt about that. If there is, then let your intellect be formed. God is guiding you! And, God wants what is best for you. He is guiding you to the best possible reality.
God knows us better than we know ourselves. We can only "bite-sized" pieces at a time. If he were to give us everything at once—whatever that may be—we would be overwhelmed and would not be at peace. So, he provides for us in stages. Not only can we handle his grace that way, but it also helps us focus on the present moment and enjoy the journey. Otherwise, we'll simply achieve our goal, move on to the next goal, and never stop to savor the beauty in the relationship.
It might have appeared on that evening of Easter (our Gospel) that the apostles reached the goal. They saw Jesus and they received the Holy Spirit. But there was a lot more to the story, and the apostles would each have many more stages to traverse.
Same deal with Pentecost (our first reading). The disciples receive the Holy Spirit, can speak in tongues, and begin evangelizing. But that's not even close to the end of the story.
This feast, and this challenging time, is another stage in your journey to the Kingdom. I hope you can trust that God's loving hand is leading you.
Yours in Christ,