Saturday, January 22, 2011

Novena to St. Francis de Sales, Day Seven: Without Counting the Cost

We should never tire of making good resolutions, even when we know that we will not keep them. Even if we should feel absolutely certain that it will be impossible to put them into practice, we should not immediately give up. We should hold on until we have sufficient courage to say to the Lord: It is true, Lord, I haven't the strength to do it or suffer this, but I rejoice in this fact, that Your strength will work in me. With this support I will go ahead to face the battle, and I will win. (Spiritual Treatises IX; O. VI, p. 155)
Every Monday morning I make my way before work to the hospital chapel to pray the morning office and offer my week of work to God. I have been doing this with varying degrees of success for somewhere near six months. I use that time to prioritize my work, and to ask the Holy Spirit to help me to be a better nurse and manager. I don't reveal that to "toot" my own spiritual horn; on the contrary, like the peaks and valleys of my journey with Christ, a certain level of "dryness" has crept into my Monday morning sessions with Jesus. Nonetheless, each Monday I leave with something to meditate on that week, whether a scripture passage, the writings of a particular saint, etc. This past Monday was no exception.  As I read the intercessory prayers from the morning office the following struck me profoundly:

"May we seek those things which are beneficial to our brothers, without counting the cost, to help them on their way to salvation."
I stopped in my tracks and spoke out loud: "I count the cost all the time".

It was a moment of revelation that most certainly could come from no other source than the Holy Spirit; I was acutely aware that in much of my day I am counting the cost: the value of time taken away, the infringement on my prerogatives and desires, the interruptions in my "peace"…I realized that in many ways I am like a spiritual accountant, trying to balance my "budget" by offsetting sacrifice with consolation. I keep a register of transactions, and in that moment realized I am a miserly scrooge more often than not.

I have meditated on the words "Without counting the cost" since that day. I printed them and attached them to my computer monitor to remind me to be resolute in my desire to give freely without recognizing the sacrifices I must make -- and have proceeded to forget the words in some sense each and every day. Despite that, I read them anew each day and resolve to seek those things which are beneficial to my brothers, without counting the cost. When I fail I have resolved to try again. For in my weakness, I think only of myself, my needs, my comforts, my desires; but with the strength of the Holy Spirit I can rise above all of that and become what God expects and what my brother needs: a vessel of His love and Mercy.

As we continue our Novena let us ask St. Francis de Sales to intercede that our resolve, though weak and limited by our humanity, may be strengthened by the Holy Spirit.  Let us pray for courage, perseverance, and humility, ready to seek forgiveness for our failings and to try, try again. 

Novena Prayers

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