When Jesus tells the apostles: “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while” (Mk 6:31), it is in a way a new call they receive. Not a call to work in the vineyard of the Lord, but a call to rest and a time to recover.
Jesus aims those words even at you. You need space to breathe, times of stillness to be alone with him. He calls you every day to a quiet period of prayer, every week to a day of rest that is also his day, and from time to time to a longer period of retreat. You withdraw from activities not only to gain new strength but also to see your life with new eyes.
Being still with God gives you a chance to ask the essential questions all over again: What is the meaning of my life? Am I walking next to the road God wants to lead me on? Am I walking in the wrong direction?
In the stillness, you gain some distance to what could otherwise swallow you. It becomes easier to see everything in its right perspective. You can see the truth more clearly and see through your illusions. There is a basic insight which can only mature in this stillness before God. If you regularly follow Jesus into solitude and rest, then this basic insight will carry you through all of life’s ups and downs.
~ A Reflection by Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.
In this wonderful video presentation by Fr. Marc Foley, O.C.D. about the life of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and his book, The Context of Holiness., he explores both the psychological and spiritual dimensions of her life. As Fr. Foley tell us “that the spiritual life is not an encapsulated sphere, cloistered from the realities of our human existence. Rather, it is our response to God within the physical, psychological, social and emotional dimensions of life.”
“St. Therese did not grow in holiness apart from the human condition. Like all of us, she was emotionally scarred by the fragileness of life. She was deeply wounded by the death of her mother at the age of four, bedridden as the result of a neurotic episode when she was ten, struggled with debilitating scruples most of her life, and suffered an agonizing dark night of faith.
“St. Thérèse was no plaster statue saint. Her life was a real life. As it unfolds before us on the pages of Story of a Soul, we see a pilgrim soul who made its way home to God through many raging storms and dark nights. The specific nature of Thérèse’s trials may differ from our own, but psychological and emotional suffering are our common lot. For example, we may not have known the pain of our mother dying when we were four, but most of us have known the pain of the loss of a loved one. The sufferings that we share with Thérèse are universal—physical pain, anxiety, anger, sadness, depression, loneliness, doubts of faith, to name a few. These sufferings make doing the will of God difficult, but they are the context of our choices. They are the context of holiness.”
I find this presentation very useful for meditation and personal reflection, especially during this season of Lent. Hope you enjoy it!