Obstacles and excuses

As I was going about my day today, I was mentally grumbling about the deficiencies in my prayer life. Having started a 54-day rosary novena for the first time, I’ve gotten into the habit of praying a scriptural rosary with the Rosary Cast podcast when I get up with my daughter around 6am. Which is great! But, I was thinking, first thing in the morning is the only time I have for fruitful prayer: my husband is asleep, the baby is occupied with her milk and renewed joy to play with her toys. If I had a devout Catholic husband, we could pray together in the evenings – perhaps a litany to our favourite family saints, bedtime prayers with our daughter, an examen before sleeping.

But then, as if St. Michael or Our Lady or some other saintly friend had my back, I almost felt these complaints, sent by the devil, being squashed by the Truth of God. Yes, I have some specific obstacles to my ‘ideal’ prayer life. But doesn’t everyone? It’s my choice to either let those obstacles stand in the way of my relationship with God, or to recognise that my prayer life will be as fruitful as I make it. Would it not be more beneficial to offer up those frustrations as prayer, thereby making them part of my prayer life? Does God not always make space for more prayer when we look for the parts of our days and our lives in which we can grow in intimacy with Our Lord?

This is not to undermine the real sadness and sorrow that comes with being unable to pray with my spouse. If it did not cause me pain, I probably wouldn’t be moved to pray daily for my husband’s reversion. But I am firmly convicted that, at this point in my life, this is my cross. This is my path to holiness, not my excuse for laziness in prayer. As I have prayed through the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious mysteries of the rosary (the Luminous mysteries aren’t traditionally prayed in a 54-day rosary novena), I’ve been reminded starkly that Jesus and Mary know our pain; they both felt it in their own earthly lives. If we unite our suffering with Our Lord and Our Lady, we will grow in faith and spirit.

And further, this verse from the Joyful mysteries has kept coming back to me:

For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. (Luke 1:49)

The devil wants us to feel that our quest for holiness is doomed, that our circumstances make it impossible. He wants us to feel despair, and ultimately, to give up. How can I despair, though, when I look around and see all the wonderful things that the Lord has done for me? Our challenge is to keep our eyes, minds and hearts on those things, to let our hearts sing a Magnificat; and that when we feel sorrow over our perceived obstacles to unity with God, we do not let it become an excuse to give up as the devil wants, but to lean ever closer into the suffering, redemptive love of our Saviour.

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