Yesterday I stepped outside on my way to the Angelicum to sit my oral exam for the course on the Acts of the Apostles. I saw a typical sight: tourists walking down the street with their luggage. It seemed this young family was departing Rome. The father was walking quickly ahead, probably to flag a taxi. The mother was walking just a bit ahead of the young little girl, maybe four years old. I smiled at how determined the little girl was to drag her miniature suitcase, which was still a bit too big for her.
The mother said endearingly, “Sweetie, would you like me to carry your luggage?”
“No, I got it,” replied the little girl as she proceeded to turn around, with pride that she might have found the ingenious way to drag her bag, and she was walking backwards now, looking in the opposite direction she was going.
The mother insisted, however, “You will have to walk forward.”
This was just a little 20 second passerby experience, but I think it would be good to glean something spiritual from these 20 seconds.
It is so common in the spiritual life for this same thing to happen. We are gently guided and instructed by Our Lord; He even swoops down to pick up His little children. When we are guided to greater progress in the spiritual life, to stages of greater active purification on our part, or even passive purification by God, it would be good to not walk backwards, or rather to the point, it would be good to not look in the past.
There is a necessity to learn from our past or to be humbled by failings in the past, but how many more problems can we make for ourselves when we are so focused on and attached to what is now behind us: our personal sin, difficult friendships and relationships, confusions, sadnesses, even joys.
In preparation for the Feast of the Sacred Heart, look at your life, at your relationships, your family and friends. If you’re struggling, or if you have burdens on your heart, new or old, put all of it into the Heart of Jesus.
I can tell you from personal experience, the only way to progress in the spiritual life is to look forward, by God’s grace our end, to be with Him forever in eternity, is in front of us. I have two friends in particular who are always so good about telling me ‘to walk forward,” and more importantly, I often, (that is, almost daily), have to listen to Our Lord gently saying the same.
Novena Prayer: Day 8
O most holy Heart of Jesus, fountain of every blessing, I adore Thee, I love Thee and with a lively sorrow for my sins, I offer Thee this poor heart of mine. Make me humble, patient, pure and wholly obedient to Thy will. Grant, good Jesus, that I may live in Thee and for Thee. Protect me in the midst of danger; comfort me in my afflictions; give me health of body, assistance in my temporal needs, Thy blessing on all that I do, and the grace of a holy death. Within Thy Heart I place my every care. In every need let me come to Thee with humble trust saying, Heart of Jesus help me. Especially in this need,
Merciful Jesus, I consecrate myself today and always to Thy Most Sacred Heart.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus I implore, that I may ever love Thee more and more.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in Thee.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!
Sacred Heart of Jesus, I believe in Thy love for me.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy Kingdom Come.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, convert sinners, save the dying, deliver the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
My God, I offer Thee all my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings in union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, for the intentions for which He pleads and offers Himself in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in thanksgiving for Thy favors, in reparation for my sins, and in humble supplication for my temporal and eternal welfare, for the needs of our holy Mother the Church, for the conversion of sinners, and for the relief of the poor souls in purgatory. Amen.