“His truth is marching on….”
“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord,” a lone voice sang out from the depths of her soul on Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C. last Friday during the annual March for Life. The woman walked about 20 minutes ahead of the tens of thousands of marchers and about 20 minutes behind the hundreds who walked the route prior to the official start in order to get out of D.C. before Snowzilla buried the city.
Her voice was prophetic. She sang alone until some of our novices happily joined her. She was part of the smattering of people, who became what felt like something of a remnant. “His truth is marching on…” they sang boldly as the first indications of the blizzard began to blow in their faces.
Beautiful as it was, it led me to a brief (but strong, nonetheless) moment of questioning Divine Wisdom. What is this blizzard all about, Lord? Hundreds of thousands of people were unable to attend because of threats of inclement weather. Last year there were, by some accounts, 400,000 – 500,000 people witnessing the beauty of life, this year it could have been a million, I thought to myself.
Perhaps, similar thoughts stirred in the hearts of others who participated or desired to participate in the event. I began, however, to feel consoled as I learned many of those whose plans were thwarted by the storm, organized Holy Hours around the clock for an end to atrocities against the dignity of human life, particularly abortion. They prayed and fasted to be in solidarity for the cause of human life in our nation.
And is not prayer the most powerful means of ending this culture war and restoring beauty and innocence? I chided myself for having a momentary lapse of judgment.
Prayer, is in fact, the core of the vocation of a Sister of Life – one called to be contemplative active – to recognize and live with confidence that the active life is an overflow of the contemplative life.
“Prayer is not passivity,” Cardinal John O’Connor, our father and founder, said during the first discernment retreat he held. “Prayer, I repeat, is our primary activity. It is imperative to remind ourselves…”
The deeper our interior life the more powerful our apostolic work, the Cardinal reminded the sisters. The work of prayer itself wins graces … In essence, his Eminence said, our prayer is more powerful than our work.
“That’s Divine Wisdom. We don’t understand it. It’s an incomprehensible mystery. We know that it’s contrary to all of our human inclinations, which we must remember are the inclinations of all in human nature. So we must try to use Divine instruments. … When we go out in to the world, we continue our contemplation…”
To reach the heights of this prayer, this contemplation, he said was to live in union with Jesus’ suffering by embracing our own. “One of the most direct routes to contemplation is acceptance of our suffering, acceptance of our loneliness, acceptance of rejection, acceptance of rebuff… It is through this suffering, through the crucifixion of Christ reflected in our suffering that we can come so very, very close to Him.”
And this contemplation truly allows us to “see the glory of the coming of the Lord,” though it may be veiled in mystery for a time.
May we remember that our prayer allows us to be a witness – and only through this prayer, this contemplation, union with Him, that indeed, His truth is marching on.
Know of our prayers for you, particularly in these last few hours of the Year of Consecrated Life. May He show you His glory and lead you ever more to His Heart.