Retreat with St. Paul of the Cross- Day 18

     From December 10 to December 12,1720, Paolo did not write anything. On December 13 he made a long entry which we have divided into four parts which we reflected on for days 18-21 of our retreat. Paolo wrote: “ I was dry, distracted, tempted; I had to force myself to stay at prayer. I was tempted to gluttony and hunger came over me. I felt the cold more than usual and the flesh wished for some comfort, and on that account I wanted to run away from prayer, by the grace of God the spirit held out but the violence and the assaults kept coming from both the flesh and the devil. For my part, I believed that the devil entered into it because I know he has a special grudge against anyone who prays. Then, as I have said, my resistance made my heart jump. I kept trembling from head to foot; my bones and my back ached all over. But, by God’s mercy, I kept on saying that I wanted to hold out even if I had to be carried away in little bits. This happened because the flesh wanted to have relief before the fixed time that I had planned to stay at prayer. When the prescribed time came for me to leave, I remained on in peace and tranquility wishing always for more suffering, so that I asked God never to take sufferings away from me. This also happened to me on other occasions and often; blessed be God for it.”

     Berta’s entry: Dear Jesus, St. Paul stated in his diary entry that he was being distracted and tempted both by the flesh and by the devil. He believed, as many Catholics do, that: “ the devil entered into it because I know he has a special grudge against anyone who prays.” I always considered my distractions and temptations as my own problems. I’ve never considered that the jealousy of the evil one would be causing many of these temptations and distractions. From now on, when I can’t concentrate on prayer I’m going to stop and turn to You , my Jesus. I’ll ask You to help me by covering me with Your Precious Blood and filling me with Your Holy Spirit. I will remain in that moment until I feel the peace of Your Love and Mercy reigning over me. Then You will continue, Lord Jesus, leading me in prayer. Thank You, my Triune God for guiding me to You and always showing me a new way.

     Orlando’s entry: We could not do our shared prayers in the morning because I had to go on a food drive with my fellow Knights of Columbus. In front of a store we basically “begged” for money or groceries for the hungry. The fellowship I felt with these men was so great. I am not a personal friend with any of them but I felt as if the front of that supermarket was located in a suburb of heaven, praise God. I got home so satisfied, tired, and hungry (I still had hours of fasting left in the day!) that I was in no mood to do the reading and reflection with Berta. I got into it grudgingly. If it were not for our 40-day retreat I would have found any excuse to avoid prayer.      I feel so fortunate compared to Paolo Daneo, who is getting “cabin fever” in that cold, little room. Yet, across the centuries, he inspires me to persevere in prayer. Eventually, as Berta and I struggled with our task, “peace and tranquility” entered our hearts. As for physically fit, twenty-six-year-old, saintly Paolo asking God to bring him “more suffering”, I just can’t fully join him there. My afflicted, 70-year-old body rather revels in thanking God for any relief I get.      It’s O. K.; the Passion is coming for every one of us sooner or later. Either way, “blessed be God for it!” 

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