Spiritual exercises: Recognizing our Thirst for God
By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
“I became aware that I was thirsty,” and “Thirst does not make me ill” are the titles of the reflections given by Fr Tolentino on Monday evening and Tuesday morning.
Recognize how we thirst
On Monday afternoon, Fr Tolentino focused on becoming aware of the thirst within. “Connecting with one’s own thirst is not easy work, but if we do not do it, the spiritual life loses its grip on reality,” Fr Tolentino says. Recognizing our thirst is how we anchor our spiritual lives in the concrete reality of who we are, he said. After this introduction, Fr Tolentino then explored how it is possible to evaluate the “state of our thirst,” and how “to interpret that thirst,” before turning to the theme of “the thirst for God” through a reflection on Psalm 42: “As a deer longs for running waters.” Yearning for water happens when water is absent. We yearn for God precisely because we feel his absence. Fr Tolentino explains that “the absence of God becomes a kind of temple because it sets in motion desire, nostalgia, sighing, seeking. And thirst then becomes a type of uninterrupted prayer.”
Thirst versus apathy
The theme he picked up on Tuesday morning is that the thirst discovered within is not a manifestation of illness. “The opposite of thirst which appears at times in our lives is apathy. It is this thirst for nothing which more or less assails us imperceptibly that makes us ill,” Fr Tolentino explains. He then turned his attention to the topic of burnout and suggests that the prophet Jonah can teach us “the treatment” for our desires. By fleeing from God, Jonah manifests “the contradiction of our desire,” he says. Sadness is another symptom of apathy which Fr Tolentino says can be cured by learning from Jesus. “Come to me, all of you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me” (Mt 11:28-29).