"You have to break my heart, always"

So, I picked up the Magnificat Year of the Priest Companion – a little book of novenas, litanies, essays and meditations on the value and meaning of the priesthood.

Being a Magnificat product, it is as excellently put-together as you would expect: the illustrations are gorgeous and invite contemplation. The prayers are thoughtful and comprehensive. The meditations are little gems.

Skimming through it last night, I came across a brief piece by Fr. Vincent Nagel, and it was stirring, and a little heart-breaking but ultimately so inspiring that I said, “that’s awesome,” loud enough to awake my dozing husband. I read it to him, and he loved it too. “But that’s awfully challenging,” he said. “That’s some saintly prayer…”

One of those dangerous prayers of blessing that we instinctively realize will bring great gifts, if only we dared breathe it. Here is a little excerpt:

A Priest’s Utter Dependence on God

They say that at ordination -and it’s not doctrine, but it makes sense to me- when you’re lying on the floor prostrate on the pavement, and the whole congregation and the bishop and the priests are all calling down the Holy Spirit on you, whatever you ask God in the name of his Son our Lord Jesus Christ for the sake of your vocation, he will grant. . . .

I had no doubt about what to ask. I was sick, and it was killing me, but I specifically didn’t ask to get better. I said, “Lord you know that I will forget to follow you and depend on you . You know that I will not turn to you anymore as your child if I feel I can make it on my own. So you have to break my heart always, you have to keep me poor and humble, you have to keep me incapable of anything without you. You have to make it clear to me that I can do nothing without your grace, and that will never be clear to me if I think things are going well. You have to break my heart.”

I understood that my sickness was a part of that. I didn’t want more sickness; what I wanted was utter dependence on God so that I would be true to my priesthood, true to him

I don’t want to tempt any copyright issues, but it gets even better.

My husband is right. That is some prayer to make. Yeah, downright saintly.

Related: Don Bosco on vocations

About Elizabeth Scalia
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  • http://www.celticpole.blogspot.com Barb

    Not quite as eloquent but something I wrote a couple weeks ago:
    When I pray, “Jesus, rescue me, take me away from these troubles. Remove me from this hardship,” I am limiting myself. When I pray, instead, “Jesus, equip me in this situation to be wiser, stronger, more at peace, more content, more joyful…” then I am open to sanctification, to maturing, to becoming an adult in Christ. I am putting aside the simpler, youthful things and embracing what I was made for – bearing fruit.

    It’s easy to pray the first prayer. It’s my initial reaction. It’s simple. It’s simplistic. It’s from my flesh. But God wants me to grow. He’s teaching me. He hasn’t given up on me and so He allows trials, but really they aren’t trials, rather opportunities. Teaching moments. I can either resort to the immature, “Get me outta here!” or “Give me what I need to learn, survive, thrive and bring others along!”

    Resorting to the first prayer leads to resentment, doubt, self-pity. “Why aren’t you doing what I asked God! You’re not living up to MY expectations.”

    Resting in the second prayer is exercise. It is hard. It stretches me. My faith (or lack of it), my confidence (In my Creator vs. in myself), takes me out of my comfort-zone. But in the end…after the trust-building and equipping…I am stronger. It’s the better way. Now if only I would eat these words – they would become a part of my body and soul!

  • Rouxfus

    Merry Cardinal Del Val’s “Litany of Humility” is the same sort of prayer:

    Litany of Humility

    Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930),
    Secretary of State for Pope Saint Pius X

    O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
    From the desire of being esteemed,
    *Deliver me, Jesus.
    From the desire of being loved…*
    From the desire of being extolled …
    From the desire of being honored …
    From the desire of being praised …
    From the desire of being preferred to others…
    From the desire of being consulted …
    From the desire of being approved …
    From the fear of being humiliated …
    From the fear of being despised…
    From the fear of suffering rebukes …
    From the fear of being calumniated …
    From the fear of being forgotten …
    From the fear of being ridiculed …
    From the fear of being wronged …
    From the fear of being suspected …

    That others may be loved more than I,
    ** Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

    That others may be esteemed more than I … **
    That, in the opinion of the world,
    others may increase and I may decrease …
    That others may be chosen and I set aside …
    That others may be praised and I unnoticed …
    That others may be preferred to me in everything…
    That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…

  • anniebird

    What an exquisite prayer, and how joyful to know that a soul like this serves in the priesthood.

  • Mary

    Eh, I think the first part of the litany is dead on — and the second contradicts it. If you want whatever God wants, you will take them if they come to you.

  • http://sherryantonettiwrites.blogspot.com Sherry

    The wanting of what God wants is something we aspire to, but not something we can claim as our own, as our fallen nature will often preclude being able to say this with a full and willing heart. I think saying, You will have to break my heart always, is acknowledging that we try very desperately in our sinful state to return our hearts to stone and God must break them over and over and over again.

  • http://diddly.wordpress.com W Chase

    “You have to make it clear to me that I can do nothing without your grace, and that will never be clear to me if I think things are going well.”

    I read this, and I thought something was missing. I would add – “or not” – to the end. If you want to become more aware of how you depend utterly on God, you can’t decide how he is going to help you with that. You can ask for a sign you can recognize, and this priest certainly expresses his preference based on what he knows about himself – so far.
    But maybe that is the real heartbreak, you are going to have depend on God without easily recognizable and convincing prompts, as opposed to heartbreak by “things not going well”.

    But I could be wrong – or not :)

  • Pingback: A beautiful but maybe too heroic prayer « Diddly’s Weblog


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