Duc in Altum! (Go into the deep!) has been my motto since I became a Catholic six years ago, but funny enough, I have never been a strong swimmer. The idea of deep water, quite frankly, scares me to death. When taking this motto, I pictured myself safely aboard a boat with Christ at the helm, headed off into the sunset--blissfully together.
But what happens when, like in the Gospel story, I suddenly find myself in a storm, tossed by the waves, in peril of being swamped or-- almost more frightening-- feeling alone, haplessly adrift? Then the idea of “going into the deep” takes on a whole new meaning, from romantic adventure to drama or possibly even horror.
I recently read an article about St. Martha, her brother Lazarus, and sister Mary and other followers of Christ who were rounded up after Christ’s ascension and set adrift into exile aboard a rudderless, sailless boat on the Mediterranean Sea with no provisions. The idea was to drive them insane or worse. BUT, as it appears in The Golden Legend*, God’s grace prevailed. They landed safely ashore in Marseilles, France where they set up shop in Provence and began to preach and convert the Gauls.
I recount this story to give all who may be feeling some what adrift-- a bit rudderless or empty instead of full this summer-- hope. This so often happens when a regular routine is disrupted or when circumstances rearrange what seemed to be well placed pillars in life, or removes them all together. Take courage. Even if Jesus is in the boat but sleeping, this uneasy feeling can cause the stoutest of hearts to go spongy.
I speak from personal experience when I say that, if you are in this situation now, you are not alone. Jesus was not physically in the boat with Martha and crew, but His watchful care never left them for a moment. He is watching over us now, even as you read this, and He says to you, “Do not fear: I am with you. Do not be anxious. I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
If you find yourself in a rudderless, sailless, foodless boat try this:
Let FAITH be your RUDDER to guide you always to seek God and the truth in His word, not looking to your feelings or circumstances to shepherd you.
Let PRAISE be your SAILS that take you swiftly to solid ground--Our Rock, our Sure Foundation, Jesus Christ.
Let the SACRAMENTS be your true FOOD that fortifies, strengthens and keeps you steady.
We can “Duc in Altum”, in spite of circumstances because, as my swim coach once told me, “If you know how to swim, it doesn’t really matter how deep the water is.”
“And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20
Help me. I feel adrift. I am not sure if you are even in my boat, and if You are, it sure feels like You are sleeping. But I know that Your word states that You will never leave me nor forsake me. So, Jesus, I choose to trust in You! Come Holy Spirit! Please give me the grace to daily seek You in Your word and through prayer, to praise You in spite of my circumstances and to take time to be sustained by You in the Sacraments of the Eucharist, Confession and in Adoration. Lord without You, I am adrift. Be my Rock and my Fortress, my Stronghold in whom I trust. Jesus, help me, I pray.
I ask this in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.