Retreat with St. Paul of the Cross- Day 20, December 12,1720

     Paolo continues: “Care must be taken not to withdraw from prayer at such a trying time because suffering would not be thereby diminished; on the contrary, without gain to itself, the soul would be the more afflicted because it would see itself slipping into tepididity. However I know that God makes me understand that the soul which God wishes to draw to a high degree of union with himself by means of prayer must travel along this road of suffering in prayer, of suffering, I repeat, without any sensible consolation so that the soul no longer knows where it is, so to speak, but has the deep infused knowledge which God gives it that it is ever in the arms of its Spouse and is nourished by his infinite charity.”

     Berta’s entry: Dear Jesus, as I continue to read Paolo’s diary I’m beginning to reflect on my life during this pandemic. What I am going through is similar to being locked up in a small room most of the day trying to find ways to relieve my mind from worry, fear, anxiety, and unhappiness. Lord Jesus, I am actually retreating into myself more and more. You know that has been my tendency since I was a young girl. I’ve fallen back to old ways: not going out (I have an excuse now), not reaching out to others, getting away from reality by watching too much TV, and one that bothers me the most and I’m constantly fighting–neglecting my prayers, thus neglecting You!     St. Paul of the Cross’ diary  and the scripture readings for the last few weeks have made me aware of my shortcomings. I have many. I am a sinner. I am unworthy. But then my soul cries out. It reaches out to You, my Lord Jesus. It reaches out to her Savior! My soul won’t allow me to go into deep despair. She holds on to You, Lord Jesus, for dear life! Life with You. Life for You. Life because of You!     I’m sorry, my Lord, to burden You this way. I’ve tried to follow in Your footsteps and catch the dust from Your feet. I’m struggling now, but I know, and I have the consolation that You have always been my Savior, that You have always loved me, that You have my back now and always. I love You too! I am thankful that You won’t ever give up on me. And so I persevere in prayer.

     Orlando’s entry: Beloved Lord! Because of Your Grace I also persevere in prayer; I seek Your Face, Your Light, Your Presence. At least I have that in common with Paolo. But I am not suffering so much. What I carry with me for most of the day is Your Peace. In our shared reflection Berta tells me that I am indeed suffering. I feel so sad to be drifting away from my son and grandchildren due to the pandemic. I miss the outdoors, and sometimes I walk around this house like a caged animal. The physical ailments and limitations that come with my age frustrate me. I cannot share my faith, nor reach out to others the way I used to, in person. But, my grandchildren are beautiful and healthy, happy to see me, even if “social distancing”. Berta and I walk the neighborhood or Alley Park and find beauty at times. I have no serious physical problems yet. I keep in touch with people by phone and Zoom, and relish in their existence. I go to YOU in the Eucharist and You fill me with Your Love.      I never forget the sufferings of Paolo Daneo, Your Sufferings on the Cross, nor the multitude of sufferings that afflict Your Creation. I feel them and they break my heart, yet I approach You most of the time in gratitude and joy. That’s what You make me feel! In prayer, you give me almost complete detachment from everything except the nourishment of Your infinite charity. Thank You, thank you, Beloved Prince of Peace.

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