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Center for Action and Contemplation

Trusting Jesus with Our Vulnerability

Friday, March 31, 2023

Having been abused by both his father during childhood and later by a priest he trusted, CAC teacher James Finley shares how he brought his powerlessness to Jesus: 

In some strange way I could not understand, it seemed that just as my passivity traumatically bonded me to my father, so, too, my passivity traumatically bonded me to the priest.  

It was in the midst of this road to nowhere that I began to sense that God was inviting me to give up trying to overcome my fear and to instead bring my feelings of fear and shame to Jesus.…  

The felt need to pray in this way led me to imagine, as in a kind of waking dream, that I was alone on a moonlit night in the garden where the Gospels tell us Jesus would go to spend whole nights alone in prayer. In my mind’s eye I could see and feel myself searching here and there, looking for Jesus so that I might share with him how powerless I was to be true to who I sensed he was calling me to be.…  

Then suddenly, looking this way and that, I saw Jesus sitting alone in the moonlight at the edge of a clearing. I walked across the clearing and knelt at his feet. I could feel his hand on my shoulder as I leaned in close to whisper in his ear, revealing the burdens of my shame-based weakness and fear.  

Having poured out all that my wounded and hurting heart was moved and able to say, Jesus drew me in close and whispered in my ear three words that set me free, words that still echo inside me to this day. I heard him whisper: “I love you!”  

Dazed and amazed in being so unexplainably loved, the spirit within me let me know what both Jesus and I were waiting to hear me say. So I leaned in close and whispered my secret “I love you” to Jesus. And there in that instant there was the realization between us that the matter was settled once and for all. The matter being that the good news of God’s love for us is never measured by our ability to be true to who we know in our heart God is calling us to be. For the sole measure of God’s love for us is the measureless expanse of God’s merciful love, permeating us and taking us to itself in the midst of our faltering and wayward ways.  

Jim offers this prayer and blessing for us:  

May each of us learn in moments when everything seems lost that our unknown tomorrows will bring yet more perils from which will arise yet more unforeseeable blessings. And that our providential journey through all these experiences is an ongoing dress rehearsal for our approaching death, in which our utter demise will open out upon our eternal fulfillment and liberation.  


James Finley, The Healing Path: A Memoir and an Invitation (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2023), 85–87, 93–94. 

Image credit: A path from one week to the next—Jenna Keiper, Mystic. Jenna Keiper, North Cascades Sunrise. Jenna Keiper, Jonah. Used with permission. Click here to enlarge image

Regardless of the conditions we find ourselves in, we learn to navigate in the midst of our lack of control. 

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