For Sunday, March 1, 2015, 2nd Sunday of Lent
A couple weeks ago, one of the most esteemed media writers in American journalism died: David Carr, of The New York Times. He was fifty-eight. Carr had been battling lung cancer. It wasn’t the only battle he’d waged in his life; Carr was also a recovering drug addict, who wrote of his journey from crack houses and into rehab and a new life in a memoir, Night of the Gun.
Carr was eloquent and disarmingly honest about his problems and his recovery. He was also deeply spiritual, and a committed Catholic. In a 2011 interview with NPR’s Terry Gross, he opened up about that side of his life:
“CARR: Am I, underneath all things, just a really wonderful, giving person? Or is there a force greater than myself that is leading me to act in ways that are altruistic and not self-interested and lead to the greater good? And so that’s – that’s sort of as far as I’ve gotten with a higher power thing, is I’m – you know, I’m kind of a pirate, kind of a thug. I mean, I’ve done a bunch of terrible things, and yet I’m able to, for the most part, be a decent person. How is that? Do I have some inner strength of character? I think not. I think something else is working on me…
“One of the things that I’m doing is praying, which seems like a really uncomfortable, unnatural activity for me. It’s to whom, to what, about what. You know, I have a prayer in my wallet that I’m saying…and I feel like a complete fraud while I’m doing it. But it’s the act of acknowledging that there may be something else out there…
“GROSS: Can I ask what the prayer that you’re keeping in your pocket is?
“CARR: Sure. Let me look at it. It’s really full of, like, thees and thous and I think it’s the prayer of St. Francis… I’m not comfortable reading the whole thing. But what it talks about is to offer yourself to God to build with you as God would see fit. And then the important part to me is to relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do thy will. And then it goes on to say, take away my difficulties. Of course, everyone prays for that. We all do – and that victory over them will bear witness to a power greater than yourselves, and just says may I do thy will always. I don’t really know who I’m talking about when I say those words, but I sort of feel good when I do.”
In his spirit of surrender to God, Carr touched on something that resonates throughout this Sunday’s Scripture: the ability to say to God, like Abraham, “Here I am.” Few of us would have the courage and trust to undergo the kind of testing that God places before Abraham. But can we at least begin where David Carr began? Can we say to God, “Make me an instrument”?
Whether we are struggling with the kinds of problems Carr battled, or other demons of differing varieties and shapes, we are called to serve God and one another with wonder, humility, abandonment, and trust. “Make me an instrument of your peace” is not far from “Here I am”—and if we are able to offer ourselves this way to God, especially during our Lenten journey toward Easter, we may be amazed at how our lives can be enriched, and even transformed.
God did astonishing things with Abraham—and even with David Carr. Who knows what might happen if you find the courage to “offer yourself to God to build with you as God would see fit”?
Dcn. Greg Kandra
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.
—Prayer of St. Francis