“Let me preach you without preaching, not by words alone but by my life example; by the captivating force and sympathetic influence” [of Christ’s presence in my life]. John Cardinal Newman (1801-1890)
A Word of Hope
On this Ascension Day, let us recall that the presence of Christ still walks the earth, living and working in the bodies of those who follow his way; those who live by his words.
The words in Cardinal Newman’s prayer are often thought to be attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. I’m not sure that he actually spoke them, but I am certain that he lived them. As a young Baptist boy, I was urged to memorize many Bible verses, including a string of verses from Paul’s letter to the Romans (the Roman Road to Salvation). I was supposed to use these as a preaching tool in witness to others. The whole effort was nerve-racking and often caused me to shy away from any opportunity to witness about Christ’s love.
Not emphasized was the last half of the above prayer line… “not by words alone; but by the captivating force and the sympathetic influence of what” Christ is in me. It is our active example of loving care which best preaches Christ’s nature and its offer as a comforting source to others. Remember that God’s welcoming hand of forgiveness, love and care usually begins at the end of the sleeve of your shirt or blouse. We reflect it; we present it, and when received by others, God does the healing work.
Were there specific portions of this prayer which had extra meaning to you? That’s probably God’s Spirit talking to you about your life’s need for a more vibrant spiritual life. We can meditate on this one sentence of prayer in the next few days and concentrate on that as a point for spiritual growth. Think about these things and be aware of divine urging. The result can be an ascension of the soul.
Dear Jesus, help me to spread your sweet fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with your spirit and life. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that my life may be only a radiance of your life. Shine through me, and be so in me, that every soul with whom I come into contact may feel your presence in my soul. Let them look up and see not me but only you Jesus and give you glory. Stay within me and then I will begin to shine as you shine; so, to share as to be a light to others, and that light will be all from you. It will be you shining on others through me. Let me preach you without preaching, not by words alone, but by my life example; by the captivating force and sympathetic influence of what I am which is the evident fullness of love my heart and life bears for you.” Amen
Donald (Luke) Day
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare