I went to a diocesan youth rally with our Confirmation students this week. The presenter blindfolded several student volunteers, and brought them to the front of the more than 700 students in a filled gymnasium. He asked them to search for a hidden object in the audience. The crowd was allowed to yell out directions to help them. After the demonstration, each contestant shared about how difficult it is to be blind, and to hear so many different voices, each telling them a different way to go.
In the next demonstration, the presenter asked volunteers to go out into the crowd, and bring back various things (or persons with the things) he asked for; jewelry, a credit card, even a Master’s Degree! Finally, he asked, “Bring me back someone in this gym who knows when my birthday is”. The youth went throughout the room, asking especially the adult leaders, searching for someone who knew the secret. Finally, after some time, one of the youth went to the presenter and brought him back to the front of the audience! These demonstrations illustrate, that in our lives, we are like Blind Bartimaeus.
Like Blind Bartimaeus, we sit blind at the side of “the way” in life, listening to many voices. Some good, some not so good. It can be confusing to hear all the voices of this world. We have to all choose a way to walk, a way to live, but how do we know which way to go? How can we see the way? Additionally, this world offers us many things, we can bring back to our lives, things the voices tell us will make us happy, such as; glamour, money, education, etc. But until we ask the “One Person” (like the presenter in the above described presentation) who truly knows the secret, we are blind. Only God and Jesus can truly satisfy us. Jesus can give us sight, so we may see the way to walk, the way of life, as a disciple of Jesus.
Our VOCATION is finding that way to walk. Among all the voices in our world, some good, some not, we must above all learn to hear the voice of Jesus, and ask Him to “help us see” the way to go. In an earlier post, I described an easy way to pray with the Gospels. I think a form of listening prayer such as that is essential to any discernment. If God has a mission for us, a call, we must learn to hear the voice of the One who calls! I invite you to read that post again; Praying with the Gospels, and set aside an hour a day to pray, and learn to listen to the voice of Jesus, like Blind Bartimaeus. And when you hear Him, get up a Go! Don’t let others hold you back, be willing to “throw aside your cloak”, and comfortable ways of living if you must, but hear and follow that voice!
When St. Francis was a young man, before he heard Jesus’ voice speak from the San Damiano Crucifix saying “Francis, go rebuild my Church, you can see it is in ruins”, he would spend hours in prayer every day. This is a prayer, I think, he would say. It is recorded in his writings from early in his life. It is entitled, “The Prayer Before the Crucifix”.
Enlighten the darkness of my heart,
And give me true FAITH,
And perfect CHARITY,
Sense and knowledge Lord,
That I may carry out.
Your Holy and True Command.
St. Francis would pray this prayer, I think, often in that little church of San Damiano, before that Crucifix. He heard God’s voice for his day. Today Pope Francis is calling us to similarly rebuild the Church, to ask Jesus to give us sight, and show us the way we should go. Perhaps you may wish to make this “Prayer before the Crucifix” part of your daily prayer. May God Bless You!