I like to imagine that everyone has a "spiritual suitcase" where we put all the graces we receive from our prayer life. I speak about a suitcase because we can take it everywhere we go, it always will be with us. It´s from this suitcase that we withdraw the graces we need to face our daily challenges.
When I was younger, my prayer life was very intense: worships, daily masses, rosaries, short prayers, ultimately,most of the time I felt I was connected with the supernatural world and that made me feel good, my spiritual suitcase was always full, helping me to face the daily difficulties.
However, soon after I got married and moved to another city, this intensity shortened a lot, because everything was different, new responsibilities, new job, in the end it was a time of spiritual shortage. At this moment, I realized for the first time how important it was for me have filled my spiritual suitcase with all those devotions during my youth, because while I couldn´t structure my spiritual life, that was what supported me.
With time, I was able to again reclaim my prayer routine, not so intense as it was in my life as a single person, but I understood that in this new phase of my life, I should focus myself on what I could do, and in the rest of my time offer my obligations also as a type of prayer.
Then the great grace of maternity arrived: there were four children in six years! Once more, I couldn´t pray as before, and once again I realized how important it was for me to have my suitcase full, as it was filled in quieter times of life. In this phase, I also intensified the type of work prayer, in other words, offering everything I did daily as prayer.
My fourth pregnancy was very complicated. My daughter was born with a rare syndrome and died when she was only 5 months old (more details about this story in my last post: "Júlia, we chose life!") This was a very hard time. I´m sure I was only able to go through it by God´s grace and by feeding myself with that grace from the previous time of my life.
After Júlia´s death, we went through some other quiet times (in the aspect of suffering, because life was busier than ever!) I managed once more to structure my spiritual life, now in a more mature and intense way, with daily prayers, rosary, meditation, weekly worship, frequent Masses, in addition to family prayers with my husband and children.
At this time, I was already aware that I should take the most graces and fill as much as I could my spiritual suitcase, because anytime a new phase of ordeal and difficulty could happen, where I would need to take from this suitcase the strength and graces to keep on standing.
Then came the most recent and hardest ordeal that I have ever faced: cancer. And it came in double difficulty with lymphoma and thyroid cancers. During one full year, I had to stop everything. I could not even particilate in the Sunday Mass. Praying was almost impossible with ots of pain, physical and spiritual, anguish and fear (more details about this phase in my post: "Serving God in Sickness).
Once more what held me together was my spiritual suitcase full of the graces I had accumulated during the calm days. Of course,I also had the help from all those who prayed for me and for my family, those prayers helped to fill my suitcase and soften my suffering.
I understood then a phrase said by Fr. Kentenich, the founder of Schoenstatt Movement: "Even when we can´t do anything, we can still love". I started then to fill my spiritual suitcase with love and acceptance of the pain, acceptance of the physical limitation, acceptance of the hospitalizations and the distance from the children, everything for the love of the Father, who in His loving providence allows the suffering for the salvation of souls.
Now, by the grace of God, I´m in remission. I still have some side effects from the treatment and I´m still not 100% yet, but bit by bit, I´m managing to reclaim my prayer life to once again fill my spiritual suitcase.
Thus, what I would like to leave as a testimony is: DON´T WASTE TIME! Don´t waste the opportunities you have to fill your spiritual suitcase. Intensify your prayer life and the frequency of the sacraments. Offer everything you do for the greater glory of God. Do the most you can, because these results will be essential in your moments of difficulties.
So, what can you do today to add to your suitcase?
Copyright 2014 Flávia Nunes Costa Ghelardi