by Kathleen Groh
Take me, O take me as I am;
Summon out what I shall be.
Set your seal upon my heart,
and live in me.
I read these familiar words in an email last week and began humming the haunting melody. I remembered singing it as a mantra many times before this, but hadn’t heard it lately. I went to YouTube and found this being sung beautifully by choirs and soloists. Since then, this short hymn has been popping up at odd times during the day and I begin to hum it. It has become a reminder of what Lent could be for me and maybe for you, too.
Many of us began Lent on Ash Wednesday by attending mass as a prayerful way to begin these 40 days. However, not thinking much about prayer during the rest of Lent might be a bit shallow. Others of us have already chosen a convenient way to deny ourselves of “extras” during Lent and even hope that this diet will help shed a few pounds as well! We may have picked a familiar “sacrifice” such as giving up chocolate, soda, a glass of wine, movies and looked for Fish Fries on Fridays. Finding a non-profit that serves those who are poor and sending in a donation fulfills the act of giving alms. Whatever you have chosen as a Lenten observance, I encourage you to listen to the words of the hymn above and check it out on YouTube. See if you are inspired to delve a bit deeper into your spirituality this Lent as I am.
I am especially taken by the first line, “Take me, O take me as I am.” It is very Ignatian even though the author of the hymn is a Scottish minister, John L. Bell. I read an article in “America” about Andrew Garfield, the actor who played a Jesuit priest in the movie “Silence”. He prepared for this part by experiencing the Spiritual Exercises and “falling in love with Jesus”. At one point in his life, he realized that he was terrified that he “wasn’t enough”. All his life he was trying to fulfill everyone’s expectations and began to feel that he wasn’t perfect enough to act. After watching a street musician in London, he recognized that if this person could perform in front of people with less than perfect skills, he could be good enough to continue to perform. He was graced with the knowledge that he was good enough.
“Summon out what I shall be.” This line is calling us to deepen our relationship with Jesus and asking him to help us discern what more we can do to be Christ for others. We begin to ask these questions: Where could I do more? Are there a few habits that waste away my time and energy? Where have I sinned and “missed the mark?” Should I change my life-style to spend more time with the family? What gifts do I have that I can share more fully with others? This is our Lenten Examen.
Finally, we need to ask for the grace to live out our baptismal promises to live lives as Chris- like as we can going forward. “Set your seal upon my heart, and live in me,” is the perfect request as we surrender to the love that was given to us by Jesus. If we do this well, we will be ready to answer the call to be Easter people at the end of these forty days.
Kathleen is the IVC Regional Director for the Minneapolis/St. Paul Region. She is a life-long religious educator and refers to her IVC position as her “Golden Encore.” Kathleen is the mother of three adult children and has eight grandchildren.