Saturday, March 5, 2011

to the heights

I had the opportunity to take an indoor rock climbing class recently. I had done it in high school at an adventure camp and loved the mental and physical challenge of climbing. Then, I had been belayed by a professional, but in this class, I had to learn how to belay before I could climb. I went with my sister, so after having everything explained and demonstrated, we paired up to take turns belaying and climbing. I climbed first, and had no problem trusting that my sister would do everything right. But I was much more trepidatious when it came time to take my turn belaying. Our instructor checked all our equipment and our knots, and my sister and I double checked each other, but when the moment came to give her permission to climb ("climb on"), I was really scared. What if I didn't take up the slack fast enough? What if I let something the rope slip through my fingers?

I think there is an analogy to the spiritual life here beyond the obvious one of trust. That evening, I was responsible in a concrete, physical way for my sister's life. But I bear responsibility for the lives of those around me at all times. We are all our brothers and sisters' keepers. It can be scary to think about our responsibility for the souls of others (especially when we think about Our Lord's words: to whom much is given, much will be expected). But I know that Our Lord is there to give me courage if I but turn to Him to ask for it.

I was on retreat recently, and found a beautiful holy card of Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati. Here is the prayer on the back, which I think relates to this discussion:

Heavenly Father,
Give me the courage to strive for the highest goals,
to flee everything temptation to be mediocre.
Enable me to aspire to greatness,
as Pier Giorgio did,
and to open my heart with joy to Your call to holiness.
Free me from the fear of failure.
I want to be, Lord, firmly and forever united to You.
Grant me the graces I ask You through Pier Giorgio's intercession,
by the merits of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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