Prayer in spite of discouragement

Br Steven Haws CR

‘Let us pray in spite of all discouragement, even when the future I seems to be unfolding to us a life different from all we had hoped.’ Prophetic words taken from unpublished retreat addresses by Fr R.M. Benson, founder of the Society of St John the Evangelist; prophetic words written during those early years of the Society, but relevant to the current situation we find ourselves in the life of the Church.

Watching in prayer

Pray in spite of all discouragement. The events of the past two months have not been forgotten. The General Synod vote on the legislation for women bishops still faces another hurdle next year. There is the unfinished business of the Lambeth Conference. Mixed reactions to the Synod vote are still very much with us: sadness, anger, betrayal, numbness, bewilderment. Many are asking if there is still a place for us to flourish within the Church of England.

Pray even when the future seems to be unfolding to us a life different from all we had hoped. The future for us is unfolding differently, that is for certain. It is early days, so all the more reason to remain steadfast in the faith and pray without ceasing. It is only through grace that God will see us through the present crisis.

Fr Benson tells us that if we are watching in prayer for the truth of God, we may be often weary. We may often begin to despair. But we watch and at last God makes the light of his truth to shine out with the glory of the fire of heaven. It speaks to him now with all the power of the world to come. For we are no longer disappointed who wait upon God. We may be kept waiting for a long time, but if we endure to the end we shall see light.

Suffering for Christ’s sake

As we contemplate the feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross, perhaps our vocation during this time of uncertainty is to suffer alongside the Crucified and Risen Christ. The Cross goes before us, and it is not a cross of flowers, nor a cross of precious stones. It is a cross all bloody with the blood that is ever fresh. It is the blood of Jesus that is perpetually fresh upon it. The challenge before us is to suffer for the sake of Christ. St Peter reminds us that we may have to suffer various trials [I Peter 1.6-7].

The glory that shall be will strengthen us for whatever trial and suffering maybe in store for us. Think of the love where our Lord has loved us. Think of the glory which is in store for us; think of the joy that is set before us [Heb. 12.2]. Let us follow Christ in simple hope and trust through spiritual trial and sorrow, through the deep temptations by which loving souls are tried and proved.

When Dr Pusey died on 16 September 1882, Fr Benson ssje reminded his listeners that we cannot live the life of Jesus without showing the wounds of Jesus. No sufferings can compare with the sufferings of the soul, which the faithful have to pass through, if they are to be tried in their allegiance to the Body of Christ. |