“Oh God, who willed that we be partakers in the one Bread and the one Chalice, grant us, we pray, so to live that, made one in Christ, we may joyfully bear fruit for the salvation of the world.” –Roman Missal, Sunday Week 5, Prayer after Communion
My adult daughter and I were talking about fasting and acts of mortification. I know fasting and mortification, as a part of our faith, can be lived out in a spiritual Spartan regimen. I also know that penance is essentially a metanoia, a reversal of direction. To this latter point, I find myself many times during the day turning back to God by acknowledging my intended or unintended leaving of his presence. This is how I live the cross: in my daily duty, which finds me running from my cross only to return and accept it. Accepting it turns me back to God. Honestly, I am Elevator Gail . . . as in Saint Therese and her Little Way: “I wish to find the way to go to Heaven by a very straight, short, completely new little way . . . I, too, would like to find an elevator to lift me up to Jesus, for I am too little to climb the rough stairway of perfection.”
I am an early riser, and I relish my prayer time. It is my time to talk with God, my Father God. I cannot go back to the time when I did not talk with him. (This is not possible. He is always there.)
I talk with him throughout the day. Like today, I said to him, “Lord, I was just very snarky to my husband . . . very snarky . . . I know you know this, Lord, but I just wanted to let you know that I know you know I know.” He says, “Let’s go then. Lots of work to do today; let’s go!” As many times as I turn away in a day (resentments, anger, sadness, worry, impatience), I just be sure to tell the Lord what I have just done. I am forgiven. I accept being forgiven and move on . . . lots of work to do!
This is the cross way of living: daily, leaving and returning . . . accepting the cross and accepting the forgiveness all day. The chapters of my life change and change again. And yet, the daily relationship with God maintains the balance. A cross is a cross is a cross: each of us has the cross. “Job spoke, saying: Is not man’s life on earth drudgery?” (Jb 7:1)
Some of our days are drudgery. Sometimes we feel like Job. Sometimes we cry, and sometimes we snark. Sometimes, like the prodigal son, we walk away, and sometimes, like the prodigal, we turn around and go home to our Father. This is our cross. We pick it up because we love, not because we “have to.” Perhaps we do this as a mortification; perhaps we do this as Christ did: willingly, lovingly. And this brings joy.
I always laugh after I have told God what I have just done—you know, just to let him know I know he knows. May I joyfully bear fruit for the salvation of the world, right in the smallness of my heart.