A few years ago I read this post on David’s blog with a long prayer attributed to St. Anthony of Padua called Be Satisfied With Me. On its surface I don’t disagree with the concept. He writes:
Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone,
To have a deep soul relationship with another,
To be loved thoroughly and exclusively.
But to a Christian, God says, “No, not until you are satisfied,
Fulfilled and content with being loved by Me alone,
With giving yourself totally and unreservedly to Me.”
It is true that we should all be satisfied with God alone before we need other people.
I was reminded of this poem/prayer by a coworker when I was having a particularly rough day being okay with my singleness. The women in our chat were a mix of married people, dating people, and single people. One remarked that this prayer was always a comfort to her. I said that I had seen it before, but it’d been a while since I read through it again.
Discovering that only in Me is your satisfaction to be found,
Will you be capable of the perfect human relationship,
That I have planned for you.
You will never be united to another
Until you are united with Me.
Exclusive of anyone or anything else.
Exclusive of any other desires or longings.
I want you to stop planning, to stop wishing, and allow Me to give you
The most thrilling plan existing . . . one you cannot imagine.
I want you to have the best. Please allow Me to bring it to you.
As I read through it though, I found myself only becoming upset rather an comforted. I was reminded of my inadequacies, my unworthiness, and how I’m not enough yet. I know that wasn’t St. Anthony’s intention. I believe the intention of the poem/prayer is for us to be reminded that the Lord comes first in our lives. Additional human love is gravy. If we aren’t satisfied with the Lord’s love, then we won’t be satisfied with another person’s love. Only God can fill the “God shaped hole in our hearts.”
That is something that I believe.
However, this poem/prayer lays out a condition on the Lord’s goodness. It doesn’t say, “wait on me, I’ve got great things for you.” Instead it says, “You’re waiting for these great things because you haven’t trusted in me enough yet, you aren’t holy enough yet, you aren’t fully satisfied.”
And then, when you’re ready, I’ll surprise you with a love
Far more wonderful than you could dream of.
You see, until you are ready, and until the one I have for you is ready,
I am working even at this moment
To have both of you ready at the same time.
Until you are both satisfied exclusively with Me
And the life I prepared for you,
You won’t be able to experience the love that exemplified your relationship with Me.
And this is perfect love.
It reminds me that there’s something wrong with me today, that’s why I’m not married. I’m alone because there’s something missing from the love I have to give to another person, not because it’s just dumb luck. I don’t think that’s the intention of the poem/prayer, but words have meaning, they create worlds.
This poem/prayer is saying that daily Mass, the regular reading of Scripture, earnest novenas, a devotion to the Rosary, honest praise and heartfelt prayer time each morning and evening just isn’t enough. Believing that I am satisfied with His love just isn’t enough. I’m still missing something, some magic pill that no one’s told me about and no one who has found it (ie: married people who have found their love) will share about. It implies that something is lacking in me and that is why I’m unmarried while all of my friends are married. It implies that once you have found that special love that the Lord has in store for you, you won’t doubt Him again, struggle with prayer time, or have any struggles in your life. Because you’re fully satisfied with Him, how could you ever struggle? And every married person I know will assure me that’s not true … even if they don’t say it, I can see it plain as day.
The poem/prayer isn’t helpful for me. I dare say that it’s harmful and is someone’s odd attempt at explaining why there are so many great Catholic single women. [I know there have got to be some great Catholic single men out there longing for a spouse, but I don’t know them … if I did I might not be in this current waiting state. Okay, there probably are some out there, just not in my general vicinity. If you’re out there, give a shout … I know a lot of amazing single women you might be interested in knowing.]
When the truth is the reason for all of this waiting is that we live in a broken world, not that we are individually the only ones broken. Our world is broken.
And the long and short of why I’m still single, or you are still single, is that “we haven’t met the right person at the right time” not that “we aren’t satisfied with the Lord.” No one on earth is fully satisfied with the Lord, that’s a condition of our humanity, our brokenness. We are all longing for more because this world will never satisfy. Terrible things will happen, suffering will be presented, and we will wonder where is God in all of this. We might turn to him directly, but we will still be longing for something more. Longing for a world that isn’t this one. Longing for the time in Heaven when all will be revealed and nothing will be in the way of fully experiencing the love the Lord has in store for us.
*or the post in which I say that a Saint got it wrong. This might not help my canonization for sainthood. Maybe the internet will erase all markings of me after I die so this can’t be entered into evidence.