The prayers this week are a study in contrasts. We began by meditating on Hell, meditated on our losses, and by the end heard the call of Christ the King. Through the mire of sin, we still have a recognition that the life that we are leading is not the life we were made for. In our meditations on Hell, we have come face to face with where sin leads, and recognized the unsettling reality of sin that lies beneath its appealing veneer. The stark horror of where we are headed snaps us back to reality, and helps us to remember (even if dimly) where we should be, and set about looking for it like the widow for her coin. The widow might not remember every mark and scratch of the coin, but she remembers that there was a coin. Especially if we have not been active in a relationship with God for some time, we might not remember with precision what we are looking for when we search for God, but we remember enough to know that He is the One we should be searching for. Then, just like the lost sheep or prodigal son, the Father comes to us and treats us better than we deserve. The only thing that surpasses our prodigality in committing sin is His prodigality in bestowing grace. We simply seek forgiveness for our sins, yet the Father sends Christ the King to call us to more still.
This experience is not unlike that of Bl. John Cardinal Newman. When vacationing at Palermo, he became gravely ill, faced head-on his own mortality, and took a good look at his life up to that point. During this experience, he composed the poem “Lead, Kindly Light,” later made into a hymn. The first verse in particular captures the dynamic of this past week:
Lead, Kindly Light, amidst th’encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.
Like Newman facing illness in Palermo, we have come to recognize that in the darkness of our sins we have ended up far from home. Then, in the midst of this darkness comes a Light that beckons. Christ the King calls us to be with Him, to join Him as companions along the way. In answering, we do not see “the distant scene” just yet, but content ourselves to ask Jesus (especially in the Triple Colloquy) to show us enough to take a single step at a time and follow Him wherever He may go. Returning to any of the prayers from this past week, this desire to follow Jesus is a good one to allow to deepen. Let us pray that it will be enough for us to walk with Jesus one step at a time, not because of what lays ahead, but because of Who we walk beside.