Wednesday, 1 August 2012

With a Little Help of My Friends

By Santiago Rodriguez, S.J.

I have been on the road for six weeks. I've been traveling with a group of my Jesuit brothers throughout Southern United States; giving retreats to young adults. It has been a wonderful and inspiring experience. I've been blessed by traveling and working with a super band of brothers. I can easily count my blessings; I am grateful for this opportunity to proclaim the Kingdom of God to young men and women. Yet, the road trip takes its toll. It tires the body and at times it makes the soul a bit weary.

Once in a while, I am hit by the loneliness of a sailor's life. In those moments, I turn everything to God and I beseech Him to transform the feeling of being cut off from all human contact into a sense of solitude or companionship with Him. One of these moments occurred just the other night. I felt lonesome and a bit gloomy, and I brought that to the Lord. I told Him how heavy my heart was and I asked Him to convert my gloominess and melancholy into joy. The Lord then asked me if He was enough for me. I took a moment to get in touch with what was happening within me: “Is God enough for me right now?” I told Him He wasn't. Not at that moment.

“Lord,” I said, “I love You to pieces, but right now my heart longs for human contact. And our spiritual communion just isn't enough for me.” The Lord then challenged me to see how He was loving me through the very people I was longing for: my family and friends. “They are the agents of my Love for you. The very human contact you long for is my gift to you, your daily bread.”

The words at the end of the Suscipe – a prayer written by St. Ignatius of Loyola, and part of a meditation at the end of the Spiritual Exercises – constantly remind me that God's love and grace are enough for me. In a moment of yearning, my heart failed to understand the very meaning of those words. Love – all love – comes from God, just as all good things come from Him. Grace – God's self-communication to us – is what helps us recognize that love and to let it transform us. In my moment of need, God's soothing whisper was loud and clear: All I need is God's love – as it is mediated in prayer, the sacraments, through others and through all of creation – and the grace to recognize that love, and to let it transform me.

That evening, the Lord called me to recognize His love as mediated by my family and friends. I felt the desire to mediate His love for them through my prayers. I turned to an exercise I have done a couple of times: I went through the list of my Facebook friends and I prayed for each one of them. I took my time. I prayed for them and their families. If I knew their intentions and needs at that moment, I spent a bit more time praying for those. Sometimes I would stop and notice my reactions to a specific person. I noted those down, as they are good food for thought and prayer.

In the age of vast of vast social networks and superficial friendships, the Lord was offering me social media as an avenue and way to love and pray for my friends. The Lord changed my gloominess into joy. He transformed my loneliness into communion with the members of my social network. He converted my heart and showed me that the real meaning of friendship: a medium of God's love. That evening, the Lord touched me in a special way and He helped me to realize that I get by with a lot of help from my family and friends.

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful way to respond to loneliness, and to use Facebook! I also need regular contact with dear ones, especially when travelling. Thank you for sharing this personal encounter with Him. He is so good, and I love how He loves our little human neediness.