I don’t know about you, but I’ve been feeling pretty tired lately, more than tired… depleted. Dealing with physical tiredness is something I am used to; in learning to manage my CMT (Charcot-Marie-Tooth), I have come to learn my physical limits and how to work around them. I know I need more rest than most people, and I am ok with that. But the mental and spiritual strain I’ve experienced this year is constantly testing my limits, and I’m having to learn, and accept, what those are. I am having to learn to spend more time in silence, more time in prayer. And while it can be tempting for us to try to separate our physical and mental needs from our spiritual needs, we are wholly human; one area will always affect the other. Our worries make us weary; the solution to this is rest.
“Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary” (Luke 18:1). What happens when we allow ourselves to become weary? We can start to lose hope, and this is a danger we must avoid. A feeling of weariness lets us know that something is off, and that balance needs to be restored. This restoration is a passive kind of work. When our bodies need healing, what is required of us is to give the body what it needs and let it do its work. This is not easy. Ask anyone who has been on an extended bedrest; sometimes the hardest thing we are asked to do is rest. But our bodies are not meant to work without ceasing. Our need for rest is clearly displayed in the work of Creation when God rested on the seventh day. “Remember the sabbath day—keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). It is interesting to note, however, that what God commands us to do on this day of rest is pray. This is also not easy. While rest from our physical or mental labors means taking a break from the work, this is different in our life of prayer, where resting is the actual work.
The dictionary defines weary as “feeling or showing tiredness, especially as a result of excessive exertion or lack of sleep”. In our prayer, we experience this “excessive exertion” when we try to do the work of God ourselves. Think about it, God would not ask us to do something beyond our ability. He would not ask us to “pray always” if this depended on our limited human capacities. It is when we are faced with our limits that we can surrender to his infiniteness. It is in our poverty, that we realize we need a Savior. “In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings” (Romans 8:26). The only way we can pray always, without becoming weary, is when we allow ourselves to enter into His rest.
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light” (Matthew 11-28-30). On a different translation we hear, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Just like the restoration of the body requires us to give the body food and rest, the restoration of our souls requires us to give the soul its food and rest. This food our soul needs is the Eucharist, Jesus Christ Himself; He is also our place of rest. It is in this rest that His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity mix with our body, mind and spirit… healing the sick, restoring the broken. It is in this rest that we become truly whole…we become holy. So when you are feeling weary, do not despair. Lift your eyes to Heaven and enter into His rest.
-Ivonne J. Hernandez