Monday, September 7, 2020

Your Heart's Desire by Regina Madonna Oliver, A Promise of Presence by Bridget Mary Meehan and Regina Madonna Oliver

Trust in Our God, and do good

and you'll dwell in the land and enjoy security. Delight in Adonai,

and you'll be given the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:3-4 (IP)

From time to time I have experienced moments of intense longing, longing that seems to flow from a subconscious desire, not the more frivolous musings conjured up during a passing daydream. The longing I speak of seems to be rooted in the soul and seems to surface, again and again, in quiet moments, without any attempts having been made to arouse it. In fact, it often surfaces when circumstances make its realization totally out of the question. I am then faced with a choice: I can kick against the goad in frustrated anger that the pursuit of my desire is impossible, or I can accept the will of God for me now, with a willingness to relin­quish my longing if it is not in God's plan.

Each time this situation has occurred in my life and I have responded to the grace of relinquishing my fondest desire into God's hands, I have seen the promise of Psalm 37 fulfilled. Although some of these inner yearnings were for seemingly inconse­quential things, they were important to me, since they seemed to stream forth from an inner depth over which I did not have control. It didn't seem to matter if they were momentous desires or little ones. What mattered was the question from my God: "Will you entrust your heart's desire into my hands, even if that means never realizing it?" The only response I could make to God's love was, "Yes, Holy One. I entrust this to your hands. I love you more that this dream of mine."

Among these heart yearnings was my longing to go to Europe. I had a tremendous hunger to see those places that I had studied and read about in history: England, France, Switzerland, Holland, Germany, Italy. But I had entered the convent in what I believed to be a response to a vocational call, and the likelihood of traveling abroad seemed utterly out of the question. In the midst of one of my strongest yearnings to see England's castles, the Roman Wall, the Lake Country of Shelley and Wordsworth, Paris' Champs Elysees and Notre Dame Cathedral, the Swiss Alps, the Roman Forum, St. Peter's, Florence, Venice and Assisi, I wrote a prayer to


God, you are my Norman castles; You are my snow-capped Alps. ... You are all this and more to me. Once I wrote my relinquishment prayer, sometime around 1956, I didn't give the yearning much attention. I had meant the words of my prayer and never thought I would see the dream materialize.

Then in 1963 a message from the mother house announced that the archbishop would like to have representatives from the diocese make a pilgrimage to Rome for the canonization of Blessed John Newman. For that reason Mother General was giving permis­sion for sisters to join a pilgrimage, either with a family member or as part of the delegation, if their family wished to provide the financial means.

When I approached my father about the invitation, he responded affirmatively and with delight. He had wanted to do something special for me ever since I had left home to enter the convent and had been frustrated that he was not free to provide. He looked on this as his big opportunity. I found my fondest yearnings fulfilled in a two-month summer vacation/pilgrimage that included England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Switzerland and Italy. Four years later another announcement from the mother house offered a second trip that I also took, which included Holland, Germany, Belgium, Spain and Portugal, as well as those countries I had already visited. Since that time my life has taken many turns, and I have returned to Germany, Ireland and England, most recently with a summer study program in Oxford.

Had this experience been the only gratuitous gift of God in response to a sincere relinquishing prayer, that would be enough in establishing my firm belief that God is ever faithful and that we need to confide our heart's desires to God with genuine detach­ment. But the realization of this fond dream has not been a singular experience. Similar moments of yielding have occurred over and over for me. I have found that often- very often-God fulfills the promise of Psalm 37.

The attitude of committing one's longing totally into God's hands must be sincere, of course. It is not a question of saying mere words to secure a desired result; we cannot twist God to our purposes. Rather, when our longings are wholesome and, in God's providence, seem especially suited to make us more integrated and whole (holy) persons, they will have deep reverberations in our spirit, because the Holy Spirit within us and our subconscious understanding of ourselves concur in the formulation of these desires. That is why they are so strong and so persistent. Then, when God responds with a gratuitous gift of the very thing we have given up, we feel wonderfully surprised and cherished by an all­ embracing Love. We experience a double-gift: God's close and loving presence and the fulfillment of our longing.


In the attitude of loving God more than any desire of your own, confide your longings to God. Talk to God about your heart's desires. Confide them to God's keeping.


Commune today in silent wonder with the Spirit of God within you. Tell the Holy Spirit that you want to do only that which God affirms. Make this your prayer today:

Holy Spirit, Soul of my Soul, teach me what you desire for me. Take charge· of the desires of my heart.


In a poetic rendering of the prayer of St. Ignatius, make this your prayer today:

Take in your hands, God, my liberty and will; My memory and mind.

These, your gifts of overflowing love, I now to you accord.

All I ask, 0 Savior mine,

No gift seek in return,

But that your love and your sweet grace

Within my heart may burn.


Look around you at the everyday parts of your life: your family, your pets, the hurting persons who are waiting for your call. Notice how dependent these parts of life are on your love. Realize that you are equally dependent-and more so- on God's provident love. Enjoy the prayerful sense of the utter faithfulness of God's love for you-a special person whom God willed to create and holds in existence, not just now but for eternity.


In the presence of God's inspiring Holy Spirit, make a list of those things you most long to fulfill before you die. You might use index cards, one for each aspiration of your heart. Then place each item on your list in their order of importance to you, and prayerfully reread each one. Does each one resonate deep within you as a goal of tremendous importance to you personally? As a sign of your offering of yourself, place your list of desires in your Bible at Psalm


Take the time today to look back on your life. (Try breaking down your reflection into ten-year segments.) Look for times when you had a burning desire that seemed impossible but that, nonetheless, recurred in your mind and heart with some frequency. Have you lived to see it take flesh? Note how many of your dreams have already been granted to you. Give thanks to God, who is ever faithful to the promise: "I will give you the desires of your heart."


Read the promise in Deuteronomy 7:9. Pray a prayer of trust in the faithfulness of God's love for you. Ask yourself whether you would really want to pursue your heart's desire if you knew that God saw it as detrimental to your welfare. Surely you would not, even if relinquishing the desire cost you the pain of self-denial. Talk to God about this. Rest with confidence in God's embrace of love.


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