Isaiah 60:2-3 For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
In the visions of Ann Catherine Emmerich, detailed in her book The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, she described scenes where the ancestors of Mary, as well as St. Joseph, and Mary herself, devoutly, fervently, and unceasingly prayed for the coming of the Messiah. Their desire for the Messiah was never out of their hearts. In fact, those of Mary’s ancestors who longed so fervently for the Messiah, played a role in entreating God to bring forth the Immaculate Conception. The desire of their hearts was a magnet calling the Mother of the Messiah to earth. In turn, the longing of Mary and Joseph was an irresistible call that drew Jesus to earth.
In the Office of Readings on Friday of the third week of Advent, St. Augustine gives a beautiful teaching about the prayer of longing.
“For the desire of your heart is itself your prayer. And if the desire is constant, so is your prayer. The Apostle Paul had a purpose in saying: Pray without ceasing. Are we then ceaselessly to bend our knees, to lie prostrate, or to lift up our hands? Is this what is meant in saying: Pray without ceasing? Even if we admit that we pray in this fashion, I do not believe that we can do so all the time.
“Yet there is another, interior kind of prayer without ceasing, namely, the desire of the heart. Whatever else you may be doing, if you but fix your desire on God’s Sabbath rest, your prayer will be ceaseless. Therefore, if you wish to pray without ceasing, do not cease to desire.
“The constancy of your desire will itself be the ceaseless voice of your prayer. And that voice of your prayer will be silent only when your love ceases. For who are silent? Those of whom it is said: Because evil has abounded, the love of many will grow cold.
“The chilling of love means that the heart is silent; while burning love is the outcry of the heart. If your love is without ceasing, you are crying out always; if you always cry out, you are always desiring; and if you desire, you are calling to mind your eternal rest in the Lord.”
The importance of our prayer of longing cannot be overstated. The passage from Isaiah above gives us a beautiful promise. Just as this promise was fulfilled in Christ’s first coming, so too will it be fulfilled in a new way in his next coming. Just as the longing of the Blessed Virgin called Jesus into her womb, so our fervent longings can draw him once again to earth. In the Divine Will, we can tell Jesus that in our longing we want him to find the Blessed Virgin drawing him to earth once again. This he will be unable to resist.
If we have heard and believed Our Lady’s promise at Fatima, we must desire fervently the Triumph of her Immaculate Heart, the coming of the Kingdom of the Divine Will. We are a people who walks in thick darkness, it is so true. But we believe in this Lord’s promise that his glory will appear over us, drawing all nations into His light.
There is another passage from Isaiah that speaks of this promise.
“Surely your waste and your desolate places and your devastated land—surely now you will be too crowded for your inhabitants, and those who swallowed you up will be far away. The children born in the time of your bereavement will yet say in your hearing: ‘The place is too crowded for me; make room for me to settle.’ Then you will say in your heart, ‘Who has borne me these? I was bereaved and barren, exiled and put away—so who has reared these? I was left all alone—where then have these come from?’” (Isaiah 49:19-21)
This Scripture passage is a glorious prophecy of a time when God’s house will be filled with those who were once far away. This is what we must long for. How can we not? God has promised and he will do it. Then let us not delay in offering our longings unceasingly to God for the fulfillment of this promise. Let us ask our Lady of Fatima to hasten the Triumph of her Immaculate Heart, to bring forth the kingdom of peace and virtue.
As we swim in the thick murk of these dark days, let us not become weary or grow complacent. Even if we feel we may have lost hope, let a prayer of longing take up permanent residence in our hearts. God will honor us if we cling to our longing, like Abraham, who “against hope, believed in hope.” Let us trust that the dawn from on high will break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!