Integrity, my God, is tried in the crucible of suffering.
It is deepened and grows, blossoming more fully
through the experience of darkness and pain,
stretching the heart beyond its comfort and ease,
drawing it also beyond superficial contentment,
not to lead it to a place of desolation and emptiness,
but to a truer peace, a deeper joy, a more profound abiding
in the depths of the heart, hidden, yet embracing all things.

When we encounter our own weakness, Father, and our poverty,
the failure or futility of our own efforts and resolutions,
or find ourselves unable to grasp what we once held,
to lay hold of the clarity and peace we once knew,
it is not the time to grasp more feverishly,
to try all we can to rediscover what we lost,
but to immerse ourselves anew in filial trust,
in the simplicity of a little child, hand in hand with you,
yes, surrendered in love and hopefulness, into your loving arms.

When we find ourselves, Father, in times of darkness like this,
it is very difficulty to keep our gaze upon beauty
rather than on brokenness and all that is obscure.
But this, precisely, is all that you ask.
Even if it seems to be the thing that is most difficult,
it is also the thing that is most simple:
to keep our eyes open, heart vigilant, for the beauty of you love,
for the light of your face ever shining, even in the darkest place,
and your hands ever at work, guiding, fashioning, caressing,
here and now, in every moment and every thing.

Christ knew this, Father, more than we do,
both the anguish of darkness and suffering, suffocating,
and the expansion of the heart in love, deeper still,
the eyes that penetrate through the thickest of clouds
to reconnect with you in a more profound way,
embracing your love given here mysteriously,
and allowing his life’s gift to flow back to you,
springing from a Child’s Heart, the Heart of a Bridegroom,
the Heart of a Brother, bearing us all in himself,
Father, back into the light and joy of your embrace.

Grant us to see and to understand, Father,
that the times of suffering we experience
are not signs of your absence, your withdrawal,
but of your inviting us deeper, into more profound love.
They are the trusting and vulnerable invitation of Christ,
who opens up to us his own pain and weakness,
“Stay awake and keep watch with me,”
and therefore draws close to us to console us in our own,
making the place of loneliness and sorrow
the place of deepest communion…
by making it a place of compassionate embrace.

Vigilance in love, fidelity to you, Father,
not so much in the performance of works or heroic deeds
(though fidelity to the call of love each day is simply a part),
but above all in the simple acceptance of the heart
of the reality that it experiences now.
Not fleeing as the disciples did, leaving Christ alone,
nor sleeping for sorrow and exhaustion,
in all the many ways that this can be done,
but remaining, simply, alive and alert,
abiding in the truth of being, of childhood,
a bond that promises to be stronger than everything else.

Christ wants brothers and sisters
who remain awake with him here,
brothers and sisters who are not merely external, now,
but who allow themselves to be taken up
into his own mystery, his own life,
to find their place within his suffering and joy,
in the awesome reality of his Passion and Resurrection,
sheltered, therefore, in both darkness and light,
or, rather, in darkness enfolded within and transformed by light,
within the Bridegroom’s embrace…yes,
within the Father’s loving and cherishing arms.