Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I Thirst

Perhaps it is because we are entering the last few weeks of summer and the forecast calls for the highest temperatures of the season in the next few days. Or, because many sections of our country are experiencing unprecedented drought. Or because I keep thinking of our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East, being forced from their homes and villages, fleeing into mountains and deserts with barely the clothes on their backs.

All of these images keep bringing to mind the words of Jesus on the cross: “I thirst.” (Jn. 19:28).

The human body is 60% water. Our bodies thirst for water to sustain life, to grow, to prosper. When we don’t get enough water, our bodies begin to shut down.

But is not only the body that thirsts. Our souls thirst, too. Often we don’t know what it is we are thirsting for, or how to quench the thirst of a soul in turmoil, in despair, in doubt, in darkness, and in search of the joy that can only be found in Jesus.

“My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord, my God” (Ps. 63).

Recently we observed the feast of St. Augustine.  For those unfamiliar with this great saint, well, let’s just say he led a very colorful life, including fathering a child outside of marriage, before becoming a bishop and Doctor of the Church. In his acclaimed autobiography, The Confessions (Chapter 9), he states, “Whatever way the soul of man turns, it is fixed upon sorrows any place except in You.”

How many times do we find ourselves empty, searching, unhappy, only to pursue a course that, while perhaps providing momentary pleasure or escape, leaves us even more thirsty? “I looked for love and I found none” (Ps. 69:20).

As St. Augustine began the process of his conversion, he wrote in Book 6, Chapter 11, “I loved the happy life, I feared to find it in Your abode, and I fled from it even as I sought it.” We were made for God. Deep within us is an innate desire to go back to him, to become holy, to be the saints. He is waiting for us to be, but with sin and temptation all around us and the weakness of original sin, we fall, we get discouraged, and we lose our thirst for God. Another great saint, also a Doctor of the Church, Catherine of Siena, talks about thirst in The Dialogue, her guide to a deeper spiritual life. She states, “One who is not thirsty will not persevere.”

And how do we become thirsty? St. Catherine talks of the three powers of the soul: the memory, the intellect, and the will: 

  • "The memory retains the remembrance of My benefits and My goodness.
  • The intellect gazes into the inexpressible love that I have shown you by means of My only begotten Son.
  • The will drives you to love and desire Me, who am your end.
"It is then that the appetite of the soul is disposed to thirst; for virtue, the honor of My name, and the salvation of souls.” 

Our Lord Thirsts for Us

As our hearts and souls thirst for God (even when we don’t realize it), so, too, does our Lord wait for us, thirst for us. Blessed Mother Teresa, who died 17 years ago, September 5, has a beautiful meditation on the Lord’s thirst for us, entitled, “I Thirst for You”: “…No matter how far you may wander, no matter how often you forget Me, no matter how many crosses you may bear in this life, there is one thing I want you to always remember, one thing that will never change.  I THIRST FOR YOU…”

Blessed James Alberione, SSP, founder of the Pauline Family, writes that the thirst of Jesus is both material and spiritual. He highlights the apostolic dimension of that spiritual thirst:

Anyone with an apostolic spirit feels the thirst for souls. The apostle has two aspirations: souls and the sanctification of souls. He desires the salvation of all, that the kingdom of God may be established over the entire earth.

“Therefore, in the Masses at which he assists, in his Communions and visits to the most Blessed Sacrament, the apostle always asks the salvation of everyone; he carries all in his heart."

St. Columbkille, Adoration Chapel
Be the One
In her private writings published as Come Be My Light, Blessed Mother Teresa encouraged her sisters to “be the one who will satiate His thirst…Instead of saying I Thirst, say be the one…do whatever you believe God is asking you to do to be the one to satiate him.”
So, how can we “be the one” who quenches the thirst of Jesus?
  • Unite our will to the will of the Father, in all things, in small things, in the everyday challenges of life. In being patient when things don’t go as we planned.
  • Spend time with our Lord, in prayer, at home, or in adoration in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.  Our parish (St. Columbkille) opened a perpetual adoration chapel in June 2012. It has been one of the greatest blessings to our parish and to my husband and me. That hour of peace and serenity when we can just ‘be’ with Jesus.
  • Bring others to Jesus. St. Francis of Assisi is quoted as saying, “Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.”
We thirst for God. God thirsts for us.
 “If anyone thirst, let him come to Me and drink” (Jn 7:37).

Bernadette Boguski has been a Pauline Cooperator for over 20 years. She is a member of St. Columbkille Parish in Parma, OH, where she serves as a Eucharistic Minister, cantor, and member of the music ministry. Bernadette holds a degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and currently serves as the development director for Womankind, a nonprofit agency providing free prenatal care and support services for pregnant women in need.


Association of Pauline Cooperators said...

Really enjoyed your article! Thanks for reminding me that as I thirst God also thirst for me - and all of us.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Bernadette for a lovely post. I love being reminded that only in God am I full and also that I am God's desire.