Everyone faces difficulties and challenges that often seem insurmountable… challenges that drop us helplessly to our knees.
During those times, we have only two choices. Rise up, or stay down.
I choose to face difficult situations. Prayer and meditation are my tools to rise up. For that very reason, our home page encourages readers to “Make prayer a part of your life.” Because I believe so strongly in prayer and meditation, I collected 84 meditative passages and published them in a Book of Hours earlier in the year “to inspire spiritual contemplation and thought.” Prayer can help us make the world a better place to be by helping us face difficult times, and helping us help others who face unexpected challenges, real or imagined.
I use my copy of The Vitruvian Man’s Book of Hours like I hope everyone who has one uses his. When I sit at my desk at 4 am, I read the four ‘sunrise’ passages and contemplate each word as I do; it is my first, conscious act of each day. I read the ‘midday’ passages early afternoon, and the last thing I do each night is to read the ‘sunset’ passages before I turn out the light.
Every day, I discover something new in one of the readings that strengthens my spirit and lifts me up. Every day, something I read in that small collection directly addresses a difficulty and challenge that I face during the day. When I return the book to my desk or nightstand, what looked so difficult to me earlier in the day suddenly looks manageable and not as bad as I might have originally thought it.
Of the 84 readings in the book, Wednesday’s ‘Midday Examen,’ is special to me. Written by Francis de Sales – revered by Catholics as “the Gentleman Saint” because of his patience and gentleness – I first discovered these powerful words in my copy of Eknath Easwaran’s Timeless Wisdom, a volume that occupies a lofty place on my bookcase. The selection I’ve included in tVM’s Book of Hours is drawn from “The Spiritual Letters” of Francis de Sales…
“Do not look forward to the changes and chances of this life in fear; rather look to them with full hope that as they arise, God, Whose you are, will deliver you out of them. He has kept you hitherto, do you but hold fast to His Dear Hand, and He will lead you safely through all things; and when you cannot stand, He will bear you in His Arms. What need you fear, my child, remembering that you are God’s and that He has said, ‘All things work together for good to them that love Him.’ Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow; the same Everlasting Father Who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow, and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then; put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations, and say continually, ‘The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart hath trusted in Him, and I am helped.’ He is not only with me, but in me, and I in Him.”
When you cannot stand God will bear you in his arms.
Either God will shield you from suffering, or he will give you unfailing strength to bear it.
When I reflect on the most difficult, toughest, and challenging times in my life, I know without a doubt that these words are true.