“It’s November already, Luke. Do you want to write your letter to Santa?” Mother says from the kitchen. “Yesssss,” – is the enthusiastic response from the playroom. It is the long-awaited moment for every child: finally giving room to all wishes.
Dear Santa Claus,
My name is Luke and I’m 10 years old. I’ve been really good again this year. Can you please bring me:
- Lego Super Mario 71360
- Superman action figure
- Risk Junior
- Sneakers, the red and black ones, please
- A new bicycle (because I’ve grown up and I’m giving mine to my little brother)
Who, as a child, has not carefully and thoroughly written down requests for what they hope to find under the tree on Christmas morning? When you are a kid, you know what to ask for. Desires are clear and straightforward. As an adult, it might be different. Or perhaps we censor ourselves, knowing we cannot afford everything we want!
What about the spiritual life? Do we know how to ask? Do we dare to do so? In his letter to the Romans, St. Paul says, “The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness, because we do not even know what is convenient to ask” (Rom 8:26). I hear you, Paul! What should one ask for? Even before that, why ask the Lord? Doesn’t God already know what we need? Is He distracted? On the contrary, He says, “Ask, and it will be given to you” (Mt 7:7). Jesus in the Gospel wants to know even when the answer seems obvious: Bartimaeus was a blind man, and yet Jesus asks him, “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mk 10:51) It would seem like an absurd request… c’mon Jesus, what do you think a blind man would wish for!
Asking is not important to God, who indeed knows everything, but it matters to us. The experience of asking is fundamental regarding faith and prayer because it places us in the proper perspective. It makes us live our identity as children before the Father, creatures in the Presence of the One who loves us and has given us life and Himself. When we ask, we leave our claim to autonomy and self-sufficiency aside and are better prepared to receive. Jesus, God-man, gives us an example: meeting with the Samaritan woman. He begins the conversation by asking for water. He, who had everything to give: “the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (Jn. 4:14), makes the first step, asking, completely displacing his interlocutor. It is not so much the difficulty of the request; taking water from the well was certainly within the woman’s reach, but the very act of asking breaks all social customs and opens up a dialogue that will prove transformative.
What to ask for?
Luke asked for the latest toys to have fun with them. What about me? What would I ask for? The Sequence to the Holy Spirit, on which we have been meditating this year, comes to our assistance; the very end reads: Give virtue and all good. Give a holy death, give eternal joy. We do not overlook the key word that introduces each of these requests: it is the verb to give. There is a giver than and we are invited to be in the mindset of receiving: this itself opens the door of gratitude. One receives willingly, it is not a demand. One desires for a gift, and there is hope to receive it but no expectation.
We ask for virtue and all good.
Which means a harmonious life, allowing us to have a balanced relationship with God, ourselves, and others. It is a journey of growth that we are all called to make in life, and it bears fruits. As in nature, fruit is borne through cultivation and care. Once ready, the fruit is simply harvested without much effort.
We ask for virtue and all good by petitioning through our prayers. The invitation for you is to make this request into a more personal prayer:
Lord, I ask You today for the grace of ____. (Complete this invocation by expressing what is in your heart right now concerning your relationship with God, yourself, and others).
We ask for a Holy Death.
The fulfillment of our earthly journey brings us to life with God forever. We all know that it will come, although we know neither the day nor the hour (Mt. 25:13). We are certain of its approach. Instead of frightening ourselves or trying to push away the thought of it, let us become aware of it and pray that it will be Holy. That is, our death belongs to God and leads to Him. We know we are not alone because He is with us always (M7 28,20). Mary, too, to whom we ask in every Hail Mary, “Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.”
As we reflect on our desire for a holy death, let this desire also become prayer:
Lord, to live well every day until the last breath of my life on this earth, I ask you today for the grace of …
We ask for eternal Joy.
Our desire is for more than just happiness in this life but also the joy of the Spirit, who is fullness of life in Him eternally. It is already going on and has no end; it will last forever. Pope John Paul II said it very well to the young people gathered in the Vatican Basilica at the beginning of his pontificate: “What a wonderful destiny! To live of God and with God always, to be happy eternally with him!”
As you ponder eternal joy, turn to the Lord using your own words.
Finally, how do we ask?
With faith, rather than insecurity or a hesitant, unstable, doubtful, wavering soul; we ask with filial confidence, like little Luke. We are within the “action field” of the Holy Spirit. We remain humble, confident that we will be heard, aware that what we receive will be what we need the most because “the Father who feeds the birds of the air, who makes the lilies grow, clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow will be thrown into the oven…HE KNOWS what we need” (Mt. 6:25-32).
We give a name to the desires of our hearts and are open to receive if it is His will; this already includes thanksgiving. Do you know St. Mother Teresa asked by making a novena of the “memorare”? However, she prayed it ten times: in fact, she added one to give thanks for the grace received, although she had not yet experienced it!
Suggested concrete resolution
We can write a letter to God today or during this month. You and I are children, simply addressing the One who is present as a Father, attentive as a Mother, and of whom Peter, in his letters, says “He cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7).
Dear Jesus, I am writing to You this year! I know You are here, and I hear the words you speak to me, “You are precious in my eyes and honored, and I love you, (Is. 43:4). How good it is to hear these words from you, Lord! First of all, I thank You for….
I know you invite me to voice the deepest desires of my heart, so I ask You for the grace of …
I trust You and know You will give me what is most needed and true joy ...”
(The invitation is to personalize this letter, making it your own. Take all the time you need, but keep it simple. Next, place yourself in His presence, at home, in the Church, or outside, wherever it is more conducive for you, and read it to the Lord. Then enter a time of confident waiting: come Holy Spirit, come with your gifts!)
This month’s meditation is by Sr. Elena Morcelli, AVI.
 Rome,December 20, 1978
 MEMORARE PRAYER: Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful.