SOMETIMES the sense of my insignificance is overwhelming. I see how expansive the universe is and how planet Earth is but a grain of sand amidst it all. Moreover, on this cosmic speck, I am but one of nearly 8 billion people. And soon, like the billions before me, I will be buried in the ground and all but forgotten, save perhaps for those who are closest to me. It is a humbling reality. And in the face of this truth, I sometimes struggle with the idea that God could possibly concern Himself with me in the intense, personal, and profound way that both modern evangelicalism and the writings of the Saints suggest. And yet, if we enter into this personal relationship with Jesus, as I and many of you have, it is true: the love we can experience at times is intense, real, and literally “out of this world” — to the point that an authentic relationship with God is truly The Greatest Revolution.
Still, I feel my littleness no more intensely at times than when I read the writings of Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta and the profound invitation to live in the Divine Will…
THE LITTLE STONE
Those of you familiar with Luisa’s writings know well how one can shrink before the immensity of what God is about to accomplish in our times — that is, the fulfillment of the “Our Father” we have prayed for 2000 years: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” In How to Live in the Divine Will, I summarized both what it means, and how to begin living in the Divine Will, as Adam once did before the Fall and original sin. I included the Morning (Prevenient) Prayer that is recommended to the faithful to begin each day. Yet, sometimes when I am praying this, I feel as though I am making little or no difference at all. But Jesus does not see it this way.
Many years ago, I was walking alongside a pond and cast a stone into it. The stone caused ripples to extend to the very edges of the entire pond. I knew in that moment that God had something important to teach me, and over the years, I continue to unpackage it. Only recently have I discovered that Jesus uses this very image to explain aspects of the Divine Will. (As a sidenote, I just learned that the very place where that pond is has a new retreat center being built where, apparently, the writings on the Divine Will are to be taught.)
One day, Luisa was feeling the same sense of futility that I have described above, and she complained to Jesus: “What is the benefit of praying in this manner? On the contrary, it seems to me that this is nonsense, rather than prayer.” And Jesus responded:
My daughter, do you want to know what the good and the effect of it is? When the creature comes to cast the little stone of her will into the immense sea of my Divinity, as she casts it, if her will wants to love, the infinite sea of the waters of my love ripple, are agitated, and I feel the waves of my love giving off their celestial fragrance, and I feel the pleasure, the joys of my love being agitated by the little stone of the will of the creature. If she adores my sanctity, the little stone of the human will agitates the sea of my sanctity. In sum, whatever the human will wants to do in Mine, it flings itself like a little stone into each sea of my attributes, and as it agitates them and ripples them, I feel I am given my own things, and the honors, the glory, the love which the creature can give Me in a divine manner. —July 1st, 1923; Volume 15
I can’t tell you what joy this word brings me because lately I have really struggled to believe that my dry prayers were touching the Heart of the Savior. Of course, I know well that the fecundity of prayer is not based on our feelings but faith, and especially, on the love with which we pray them. In fact, the dryer our prayers the more they delight the Lord because then we are saying to Him, “I am loving and adoring you now out of faith because it is your due, not because of feelings.” Indeed, this is a “big deal” to Jesus:
This is what it means to enter into my Will: to stir — to move my Being and to say to Me: “Do You see how good, lovable, loving, holy, immense, powerful You are? You are Everything, and I want to move the whole of You in order to love You and to give You pleasure”. And do you think this is trivial? —ibid.
THE SACRIFICE OF PRAISE
The Scriptures remind us:
…without faith it is impossible to please him, for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Heb 11:6)
…let us continually offer God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. (Hebrews 13:15)
I can testify that although there can be periods of dryness, prayer is rarely that way forever. God always knows when to “reward those who seek him” with the graces we need, when we need them. But our goal as Christians is to mature into the “full stature of Christ.”Eph 4:13 And so, the sense of our nothingness, our awareness of sin and need for purification is essential to remaining humble before our God and dependent upon Him.
You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you: Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)
So the next time you feel that your prayers are futile… know that this may simply be pride or even a temptation to abandon prayer through discouragement. Jesus said He is the Vine and we are the branches. If Satan can get you to stop praying then he effectively has cut you off from the sap of the Holy Spirit. Do you see or feel the sap flowing in a fruit tree? No, and yet, the fruit comes in the summer when it is time.
Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. (John 15:4)
So don’t give up. Continue to praise God, always and everywhere, despite your feelings.cf. St. Paul’s Little Way Continue to persevere and know that it does make a difference — especially to Jesus — who feels the ripples of the little stone of love that is cast into the sea of His Divinity.
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