The Prayer for Mercy
“Our faith is incarnated in a God who was made man, who became sin (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21), who was wounded for us. But if we really want to believe and have faith, we must draw near and touch those wounds, caress those wounds and even lower our head and allow others to sooth our wounds.”—Pope Francis
The older I get, the more I understand how unloving my heart actually is. I find it paradoxical that when one seeks to grow in some way, the reality of what works against that endeavor, become ever more obvious. I have found that I need help in working through the many defenses that I have built as a reaction to life’s unavoidable problems.
When younger I tried to open up my heart, to be able to actually love others by working with the elderly, and the dying, in our community. Working with someone day after day, seeing them at their best, and their worst, as well as taking care of bodily needs, is a deep form of intimacy. Also, those I worked with experienced my own struggle to be a good caregiver and saw how I would fail. It was a relationship of mutual acceptance of each other’s human foibles. It was a slow process, still is for me, as I move towards the time when I too will have to be taken care of.
I have found that many of my defenses are there for emotional protection, and not created by some act of the will to defend myself, but a natural, often needed defense, for safety. I also have come to understand, that one great cause of suffering comes from letting others into one’s heart, to move beyond simple caring, to empathy, and compassion. I still do baby steps. So yes, as I age, I tend to see what keeps me from being more loving and empathic, and compassionate, towards others. I chain myself, enclose myself, without a key that I cannot create on my own. Sin, can also be a cage, a prison, which is built not by the will, but by a fear of being overcome and destroyed.
I do not think I am alone in this. However, I have seen many people who can be loving, compassionate, and empathic, that flows from a depth that I do not at this late stage of my life, am capable of.
I love to say the ‘Chaplet of Mercy’, a prayer that is said for all of mankind, that the love and mercy of Christ Jesus will fill their hearts, as well as mine own heart that seems still made of stone, more than of flesh.
When praying the ‘Chaplet’, I do not have any meditation that goes with it, but seek to allow the Spirit to lead me. I am slowly learning on a more visceral level what the Passion of Christ entailed, a limited understanding of course. . So as I pray the ‘chaplet’, I am slowly beginning to understand why I protect my heart so much, even if it is often unconscious, built way back before the age of reason.
So when praying the Chaplet, I will often think about the open ‘Heart of Jesus Christ’, and how he did not have the compulsion to label, and box in others, so that they could be judged, and easily managed. Well to dehumanize. For when I label, I take away their humanity.
I do believe that Sin, is a way that I protect myself from the suffering of others. When things seem to be falling apart, a subjective experience, as well as a subjective judgement, I will react by becoming angry, even enraged, which is fueled by terror, but really fed by anxiety. Anxiety is a new friend, that I really only met a few years ago. It helps to know that I have deep anxiety, because it brings my anger, and fear, into perspective. I want to control the world, make it fit my needs, sort of like a one, or two years old, I would suppose. For my anger is more often than not a temper tantrum. Healthy anger leads me to do something constructive. Anger, which flows from my ‘inner two years old’, leads nowhere if given into. So for me to convert, is to keep my heart open, when I want to close it, and to leave everyone on the outside that causes me pain, or discomfort, or wants to demand my time. The death to self, I guess, at least for me, is to allow God’s grace to expand my heart……which brings me joy.
To love is to actually ‘see’. Loving parents know this, as well as those who have deep friendships, or who care for others when they show need, struggle, etc. Love brings its own brand of suffering. To see as deeply as Jesus did must have been very soul-wrenching indeed. Imagine, to love all, the same way a loving parent loves their child, even deeper and more all-encompassing. Each human being saw in their depths, understanding everything, yet loving totally. Is it no wonder that we are told not to judge others on that deep, intimate level, not even ourselves, but to simply trust in the love and compassion of God, who is revealed as “Father”?
Prayer is outside of space and time, because we enter into God’s ‘space’, which incorporates all moments, as present in God’s infinitely creative ‘moment’. As Christians when we pray, it is the Spirit that groans within us, and as we go deeper into the love of God, we find ourselves understanding that we are all one in Christ Jesus, and when we pray, all are with us, for Christ Jesus groans within us for the salvation of all. The Chaplet leaves no one outside, as we pray for the whole world.
To break a heart of stone
How weary I am Lord of my stone like heart,
a wall that only your grace can melt,
how painful when the stone starts to break,
as you seek to make me into a work of art,
to free my soul so that it can fly and dance,
to seek others in their depth and in that,
to see you one with them in an eternal embrace.—Br.MD