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My Communion With God and the Baptism in the Words: The Souvenir Experience

Updated on September 4, 2020

It is a true that the human, his soul and indeed his entire being has God as his final destination. God is the soul’s quite, calm and peaceful harbour. St Augustine in expressing this view says that although man is a small part of God’s creation, he wants to praise God and he is encouraged by God to delight in His praise, for God have made us for Himself and our hearts are restless until they rest in Him. This immense desire for God is engraved in the human heart for his being is essentially an outpouring of God’s infinite love; and God never ceases to draw the human person to himself who is his beginning and end, his source and culmination.

This intrinsic communion with God has led the human person to seek a relationship with God here on earth, to unite his being entirely with God in a special bond of love and trust, so as to live this communion with him eternally. All man’s actions, duties and activities here on earth are to enhance the beauty of this profound communion with God. All that is not in congruence with this goal are but distractions and stumbling blocks that should be avoided by Christians by all means possible.

The knowledge of this communion with God is not all together new to human beings. This knowledge is not lacking. What is lacking however are the right steps and ways to fostering and enhancing this communion with God. What poses as a problem is not the knowledge, but the right disposition. There are various ways to seek and find God, however the road that lead to God is straight and narrow. And a communion with God is that which endures and whose impact is felt. Seeking God through the narrow way involves the whole being, the entire human powers and faculties; a chance and an experience of this communion is a treasure to be cherished.

In one of my duties as a sacristan in the seminary, I was controlling the public address system in the sacristy while the benediction and vespers was going on. Positioning my chair beside the altar, I joined in the vespers. During the period of meditation I couldn’t meditate or pray even though I had a pressing intention to tender before God in supplication. Also, I couldn’t stay still, so I decided to read a spiritual book, I searched the sacristy but I couldn’t lay my hands on any book. With nothing to read, I opted to writing. I decided to write down anything that came across my mind. I searched where I could find a jotter and I got one, it was a priestly ordination souvenir and it had a black pen clipped to it. I took it, went back to my seat and tried writing something down.

As I pondered with my mind filled with different thoughts, my eyes caught an inspiring quote by St Thomas Aquinas written at the back cover of the souvenir. At first, I read the quote and returned to my thought, but gradually my thought returned to the quote and soon enough I became entangled with the words of the quote. The words held me as with an iron fist. It was engaging and revealing. Its first effect on me was that it calmed my troubled mind, like the words of Christ that made the turbulent waters still in Mark 4:39. It was as if it was prepared specially for my encounter.

The words stared at me as if they were familiar friends seeking a profound communion with me. As I further reflected on the words trying to find a place for it in my heart, I realized that I was lacking, totally lost. At once, I began to pray the words of the quote, I wanted to have it in me and for it to fill the vacuum I felt inside. I went through it over and over again in a quest to seek the consolation that the Angelic doctor felt when he composed and spoke the words, and also the consolation of the millions of believer and believing hearts that have gone through the words and were consoled and inspired by it.

Right beside the words of the souvenir was a picture of a praying hand clasped together in the traditional catholic model. Initially, I didn’t notice it seen. Seeing the praying hand, truly I said to myself, it is both an inspiration and more so a prayer. How rich is this, for this is the path to true happiness and friendship with God. At once, like a summon, it moved me to examine my relationship with God as given by the Angelic doctor.

First, it was a personal probing , an inner exploration and an insight that was both deep and also revealing. And in union with the initial inner disposition aroused in me, I affirmed loudly and voiced out saying, “Lord I want to make concrete my relationship with you, I want to know you and walk with you.” Looking at the words I knew that it was indeed leading me towards the path of true happiness and friendship with God.

As I continued to stare at the words. I didn’t know what I was looking for, maybe it was a search for an affirmation from something that will be so convincing, or maybe I couldn’t believe how these noble words could be expressly contained at the back cover of a souvenir. Such enriching insightful words and prayer looked so high to be grasped without much effort. They were like those hidden gifts in the treasure house of wisdom; they were words that wise men and woman would sell all they have to obtain it and have it in their possession. It was worth crossing oceans, walking through desserts, scaling through the Polar Regions. However, it was just here, available to me and to all who had been given the souvenir and all who like me will use and encounter it from time to time.

I was curious, I flipped through the pages to see what the user of the souvenir does with it, I found various names and functions and duties. I asked myself if all these people have had the same encounter as I am having now, especially the owner of the souvenir. I returned to my meditative gaze on the words, I still couldn’t pinpoint the driving force behind the continuous stare at these words of the angelic doctor.

The consistent gazing at and reading of the text opened my eyes to see that some key words were specially written in red letters as against others that were black. These words were like burning spears; they, like red hot coals are the refining elements that shape and gave form to our lives in God and of which the Angelic doctor’s prayer was directed. I couldn’t but realize that the words are the core parts of the human disposition and person. This inspiring quote took over me and I was just reciting, chanting, singing, and praying the words. It was flowing from the depth of my heart

Grant me lord my God

A mind to know you

A heart to seek you

Wisdom to find you

Faithful perseverance in waiting for you

And a hope of finally embracing you, Amen.

This was what held me captive, that saturated my being and left me drowned in the sea of meaning; and I couldn’t swim it through to gain complete understanding. With utmost reliance on God, I made no recourse to my powers, my intelligence and my knowledge, rather, I left myself as a child in his mother’s arms. I left myself completely to God’s words, and I depended on Him to come and rescue me.

The same drowning force that took me below was the same force that brought me back to the surface. It had a renewing effect, like a baptism in the words; it took me and purified me, I became anew as if given birth to in a new way. The effect of the drowning was a complete immersion in the words, as if dead and buried in the words. Like a drowning man, I couldn’t swim, I couldn’t help myself, my strength was gone and I was cut off from any source of rescue. Just at this point the revival and resuscitation came and I ascended and was brought back to life, as from the grave, I was restored, it was indeed a baptism of the words, and in the words, for I came out a new creature.

After this renewing effect that I began to ponder these words anew. Now, I approached it with a confidence that was different, with a vigour that was inspired and an insight that was grace filled. The first motivation I received was an instant claim and ownership of the words. I accepted it as a direct word spoken to me and as a prayer directed for my ongoing conversion. Its words were carefully spelt out for my meditation and reflection, it was prepared for my encounter and made visible for giving light and direction to my path.

It is also in filial love and for direction of the paths of others that I was encouraged to dwell on this, for the benefits of others and to bring them to that desired communion with God.

Grant us Lord our God

A mind to know you

A heart to seek you

Wisdom to find you

Faithful perseverance in waiting for you

And a hope of finally embracing you, Amen.

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