Consecrated to the Heart of the Redeemer under the patronage of the Theotokos and Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

23 March 2013

Now I Lay Me Down

In my random bloggings I occasionally reflect on holy card prayers such as may be found in the vestibule or in people's missals.  This most recent one was brought to my attention by a brother priest, who found it at a religious gift shop.  It is called "Healing Prayer at Bedtime."  This is helpful on so many levels:  one, because I am in the healing business; and two, because if you prick me, I bleed, and not a few times I myself have been a...cause of my fellows.

Many people review their day before hitting the hay, seeking reasons for gratitude as well as repentance.  (My temperament tends to seek the latter, but I happily note that the former often surfaces as well.)  Alongside a word of thanks to the Font of every blessing, who among us would not appreciate a prayer to repair every relational tear?
Lord Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, go back into my memory as I sleep.  Every hurt that I have ever caused another person, heal that hurt.  All the relationships that have been damaged in my life that I am not aware of, heal those relationships.  But, Lord, if there is anything that I need to do, if I need to go to a person because he or she is still suffering from my hand, bring to my awareness that person.  I choose to forgive and I ask to be forgiven.  Remove whatever bitterness may be in my heart, Lord, and fill the empty spaces with Your love.  Amen.
Am I right?

This prayer is refreshingly comprehensive in scope.  It presumes contrition for the offenses we are aware of, and begs awareness of the unknown.  Compare the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, where the priest begs forgiveness for transgressions "voluntary and involuntary" (before the Trisagion Hymn).

We are humbled to realize that we may not fully know or accurately recall all the sins we have committed.  The Lord's Sacrifice forgives us of all that we have consciously recalled and confessed, as well as whatever we have genuinely forgotten.  Then there is the catalogue of repressed actions, things we have pushed deeper into the subconscious because we were unable and/or unwilling to deal with them at the time.  We hoped those things would just go away, but they cannot help but manifest themselves in everything from dreams to nervous tics.  As we grow in the spiritual life, we want to become more conscious of our faults and sins--not to wallow in the attendant guilt, but rather to make right what we can, when and where we can.  The movement from victimhood to responsibility is vital for our human and spiritual growth.  It is second to our increasing acceptance of Our Savior's love for us.

Since "nature abhors a vacuum," we seek divine love in place of the deeply-rooted bitterness that may have consumed us earlier.  It is said that we have a "God-sized hole" in our hearts that we often try to fill with created things.  Idolatry happens when we ascribe to any person or thing the regard due to God.  Many of us inordinately invest ourselves in created things--even our own feelings and preferences.  If we wish to divest ourselves of these unhealthy attachments, we need a Sufficient Substitute.

There is a considerable risk to allowing the Lord to probe more deeply into our emotional and mental states.  It's not a risk, it's a guarantee: He will find stuff.  We trust that He is sustaining us throughout the excavation process.  Whatever we find, we will receive adequate courage and insight to examine.  We can receive the willingness to humbly offer our discoveries in Confession (and, if necessary, in counseling or other therapeutic venues like recovery programs), for God's glory and for people's good.  Our own good counts here, by the way; how couldn't it?

No comments:

Post a Comment