Holy Spirit Novena Day 6

O Holy Ghost, my soul possess with Thy full flood of holiness.

Let love light up my mortal frame till others catch the living flame.

                                    Hymn for Daytime Prayer, The Liturgy of the Word

Yesterday we reflected on the struggle that makes us feel like we are little more than a pile of dry bones.

Today, we reflect on the trial that comes with feelings of dryness or aridity specifically in prayer—something vastly different. This suffering usually happens after we have experienced consolation in prayer and we felt so close to the Lord that we could almost touch Him. That consolation surprised us in the intimacy we experienced without our ever having deserved it.

Aridity, or dryness, on the other hand, lurks behind the pillars of our prayer. There are times when we come with all the good intentions we can muster, we are eager to meet the Lord, and yet, sadly, He does not appear. We seek Him but we cannot find Him, as the bride cries out in the Song of Songs, 3:1. No matter how long we kneel (or sit), how well prepared we are, how eagerly we await His coming, there is only a silence that now surprises us, especially when this continues to happen day after day, even month after month. We question God: Where are you? Are You displeased with me? What have I done wrong? Were those times of consolation just my imagination?  Should I stop praying and just start reading? Will this be forever? Am I not using the right words? Are You EVER coming back?

Welcome to the story of love. In our relationship with God and His with us there will be times of brilliant light and times of painful darkness—steak and caviar days, then liver and onion days. When we are talking about the days when we feel separated from God, we find it happening without our ‘deserving’ it, just as we never ‘deserved’ the times of consolation. It’s the Rhythm of God whom we seek and Who loves to be sought. But it’s a mystery that seems counterintuitive (mysteries usually are): why would God stay hidden if He loves me and wants me to love Him? Sometimes I say to Him, This doesn’t seem like a very good way to build up a relationship, Jesus…, but I do, after all, know better.

And I know this, too:

I know He loves to be loved, and He loves to be pursued. He loves to hear how much we need Him, love Him, depend on Him, hope in Him, miss Him. Maybe we feel God should be above that, but He isn’t. He is a tender Lover. Our longing for Him in times of His apparent (accent on apparent) absence isn’t meant to hurt us but to make us realize our own absolute need of Him. The last thing He would do is punish us for not loving Him enough: now THAT would be counterintuitive.  As a matter of fact, spiritual writers tell us that the closer we come to Him in prayer, the more we should  expect these periods when He asks us simply to love Him for Himself, not for how good we feel when we experience His presence. In fact, when His absence drives us to our knees in anguish, then we know that we have really fallen desperately in love with Him—and He knows that, too. 

And I know that the Holy Spirit is deeply involved in this lovely rhythm of God’s love for us. It’s He Who tears our heart open so that our misery reaches the heavens. The Breath of God rises within us as sighs and sometimes tears– tears of grief at having lost Him, even for a time.

Finally, I know that this aridity (dryness) is as much a gift of God as the consolation we experienced previously. If we call upon the Holy Spirit to pray in us (Romans 8:26), to BE our prayer, we are drawn up into the Mystery of God in a way that liberates us from worldly concerns that once occupied our minds.

As we move nearer and nearer to the great Feast of the Holy Spirit on Sunday we turn more intentionally toward Him, asking for the grace to understand the ways of God within our souls, and not to lose hope when we cannot find Him in prayer.

So let us pray:

Dear Mother Mary, as I wait with you for the Holy Spirit’s coming on Pentecost please teach me about the Mystery of God’s love. Help me to understand His sacred rhythms within my soul. When I cannot experience His presence about me, remind me that my yearning for Him becomes my prayer—the prayer of the Holy spirit within me. Help me to seek Him with the same love that I knew when I knew His love for me in the consolation of my encounters in the quiet, lovely times. Let me never be afraid of the way He loves me, for He is always my loving God, whether or not I experience His fragrance. Please, Mother, empty me by Grace that He may fill me. Make me a new creation by the power and tenderness of the Holy Spirit, in the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.


Hold Fast. In four days….

“With Mary, our lives continually proclaim the greatness of the Lord and the joy experienced in rendering service to Him.”

Holy Rule

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