Pray for Wisdom
The very words I heard when attending a Miraculous Medal Novena 62 years ago during Advent, 1960. It was several minutes before the novena began and as I was reading through the prayer booklet noticed the prayer for whatever our intentions were for the service. My thoughts were I never prayed for money or any other type of relief and there were no particular health needs for myself or anyone close to me. Almost without an end to my thoughts I heard a woman’s voice speak to me. She had a very warm and convincing thought that stayed with me for a long time. She said why not pray for wisdom? The message had a convincing and feeling of assurance that one would never object to.
It wasn’t until Lent which followed Christmas rather quickly and I began attending Mass daily. At this period of time our parish allowed anyone who could not stay for the entire Mass to receive Holy Communion before Mass began. But the next voice I heard came as Easter ended and it was suggested to me to stay for the entire Mass.
As I began to look back to the woman’s voice suggesting to ask for wisdom during Advent the year before I could see the inducement of such a word and saw how the Lord, through the voice of Mary, I believe, was reaching into my life and the Holy Spirit was guiding my life a little step at a time.
During these several early years my attendance at early mass got the attention of a Holy Name attendee and asked me to go on a parish retreat at St. Paul’s Monastery in Pittsburgh. Here is where my eventual entrance into the diaconate began. It wasn’t too long before I was asked to join the Holy Name Society and not long after St. Vincent de Paul. Because I was young and full of energy towards parish activities I became the president of a Particular Council in the Pittsburgh Area. It isn’t to point out my accomplishments but the manner in which God kept me growing in an evangelistic mission from one responsibility to the next. Four years later, during June of 1964, as I was lying on my bed on Sunday evening reading the bible I again used the formula as to what else I could do for Jesus this week. This week had two ember days, perhaps for the Sacred Heart. As in the Advent instance the very same woman’s voice spoke succinctly and said why not stop smoking. First it was the same woman and the suggestion as in the wisdom encounter meant more than a whisper or command.
Monday morning I did take some cigarettes with me to work but did not smoke a whole pack. That night I was apprehensive seeing my addiction was a little controlling. Tuesday I did not take any cigarettes with me and ended up bumming five cigarettes the whole day. That evening I was disheartened and knew I could not stop on my own. I spoke directly to Jesus and said I could not stop. “If you want me to quit it will be you who helps.” Wednesday morning, the first ember day, I went to work with no cigarettes and to this day, 58 years later, have never had a cigarette.
Most of my life there have been obstacles to circumvent, not with the addiction but with everyday events as with everyone who is attracted to life’s sins. Be assured if you are trying to follow the virtues that spiritual wisdom the Holy Spirit gives us, be thankful when the grace of God steps into our lives and keeps our mission clear of failure. I write this as we step beyond Advent, Christmas, and the road to the understanding of the Incarnation, we are in the realm of wisdom.
Ralph B. Hathaway