Years ago, I read God and the World – Peter Seewald’s book-length interview with then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
One question Seewald asked Cardinal Ratzinger was, ‘What is the first thing you do upon waking?’
Cardinal Ratzinger replied that he prays. He thinks it very important to begin the day with prayer – conversation with God.
At the time, this deeply struck me. Whilst I said my morning prayers back then, it was not the first thing I did on waking.
From that moment on, I decided to follow Cardinal Ratzinger’s example.
So, I composed a prayer, which I have said each morning on waking, ever since. After blessing myself with holy water, in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, I pray: ‘I commend myself to Thee Lord. Do with me as Thou wilt. Make my heart like unto to Thine.’
Yet, although I recite this prayer and intention each morning, I struggle to live it out. I fall short of it daily.
Whilst I long to be entirely God’s child, doing whatever pleases Him, I am obviously far from that person.
I am constantly, repeatedly waylaid, through my weakness, through my sinfulness.
I most certainly do experience Providence guiding my life in some way, but I also experience the fuzziness and obscurity that due to my own fault, veils the Lord from me.
I am a poor sinner, only capable of making tiny steps towards my God.
Only our Blessed Lady was able to give herself entirely to the Lord. She gave herself perfectly, for she was sinless. She could only desire to please Him, for no other desire existed within her Unfallen Nature.
But the rest of us are fallen and we struggle day in day out, with this reality.
My first Good Friday, as a baptised Christian, will be forever etched in my heart.
In deep prayer, I understood how our Lord, stricken with pain, tortured throughout His entire body, was able to love us from every cell of His Holy Being.
Love gushed from His Sacred Heart, like a mighty river, bathing the entire world.
Whilst He felt each and every sin ever committed, was scourged, mocked, cruelly tortured and hung up to die, He still loved and never ceased to do so.
And as He loved, forgiveness poured forth, bathing each one of us in His mercy.
This was the moment in time and in eternity, where our sin was transformed, where we were redeemed.
And I saw how as we relive this unfathomable mystery, we can bathe ourselves in all that He is and gives, that our sins may be forgiven.
Lent is the time where we look at ourselves very deeply, our lives, our behaviour. It is a time where we make more frequent or general confession. In some way, we aspire to emulate the forty days of fasting and prayer our Lord spent in the desert.
And when we come to Good Friday, we pray that we will be washed clean, beneath the streams of Blood and Water flowing from the Holy Wound in His Sacred Heart.