This month’s prayer is taken from the writings of St Catherine of Sienna. Her words are greatly encouraging and point us all towards the importance of deepening our faith and our relationship with God. She uses the word “companion” (compagno in her native Italian) to describe what that meant for her in the 14th century.
If you care to look at a dictionary definition, well, it just does not seem to get to the heart of what companionship with God really means in Christian terms. That definition is certainly much more that someone with whom one simply spends a lot of time. God, as our companion, knows us at the very depth of our being. Graham Greene (sorry, yes, I do like referring to him!) captures something of this understanding in his novel Monsignor Quixote.
At the end of all their adventures the Monsignor saw in Sancho what he could not. All fiction, so it is claimed, is to some degree autobiographical and certainly this particular work of fiction illuminates the shadowy corners of Greene’s turbulent Christian faith that he struggled with throughout his entire life; and yet Greene’s campanero, God, was always with him, and knew him for who he truly was.
Many of us will be familiar with the prayer, “Footsteps in the Sand.” For those of you who may not be it is a dialogue that involves a man having a dream in which he is walking alongside Jesus by the seashore. After a while he noticed that at the lowest points in his life there was only one set of footprints. This really bothered him and so in his dream he asked Jesus why it was that he would leave him when he needed the Lord most. To which the Lord replied, “My precious, precious child, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”
To talk about God as our companion as St Catherine did implies much more than, “hanging out together” in modern parlance. God is the companion in whose constant love we discover our real security, in whom we place our faith and our hope, who casts out our fears and who never leaves us on our own. The message is a fresh and as relevant today as when the blessed saint wrote the words nearly 700 years ago
Keep the Faith – Vicar