Waves are crashing on the shore of the Adriatic Sea outside my window as I write this. The serenity is a welcome respite from the frenzy of Rome.
Our pilgrimage has brought us to Loreto from Rome by way of Assisi, where I fell in love with St. Francis, for in his words I found the formless prayer I have been struggling to say since I arrived.
I cannot express how frustrating it has been to be unable to articulate my prayer--after all, I am a wordsmith by both vocation and profession. I should be able to verbalize my thoughts, but this particular yearning of my heart remained unwilling to be formed into words, and so I was forced to mumble, as I knelt before the Lord, "I can't ask for what I want. Please help with this that brings me to you. You know what I mean."
Then, there at San Damiano, where St. Francis received his commission from God to rebuild the Church, I found my prayer had already been articulated by the most famous son of Assisi: "Oh most high, glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart and give me a right faith, a certain hope and a perfect love, understanding and knowledge, I Lord, that I may carry out your holy and true command."
It is indeed the enlightenment of the darkness of my heart that I seek. Thank you, St. Francis, for your eloquence. You were known to apologize for the simple style of your words, but they are so powerful that they need no embellishment.
In his homily that day at the Basilica of St. Francis, Archbishop Wester suggested that we listen for God just as did St. Francis. He said God is calling us every moment of our existence, and the question to ask is whether we are listening, and if we are listening, whether we have the courage to trust the Lord.
One message I am hearing over and over again this pilgrimage is to listen. I am trying to heed that advice.
The next day I prayed St. Francis' prayer in front of the crucifix where St. Rita received the wounds on her forehead that resembled those of a crown of thorns. (I never knew about St. Rita before. This pilgrimage has introduced me to so much about the faith I never knew.)
God has not spoken to me as he did St. Francis nor marked me as he did St. Rita, but I think he may be enlightening my heart. For now I am content to sit here by the seashore, listening to the waves and reading the words of St. Francis, knowing that for the moment at least I am blessed to be where God intended.