Two images strike home: the “full net” and “wholly following Christ.” We often recognize the Lord when our nets are empty, or, as it was with the Prophet Isaiah, when our lips are unclean, or our hearts harden against enemies, as it was with Saint Paul. It is more beautiful because less needy, when we recognize the Lord by realizing the miracles our lives contain, the exquisitely expansive history of our relationships with others, nature, with every facet of our being alive as human beings. Our hearts wholly convert to the Lord when we perceive our net is full. “How can I repay the Lord for his goodness to me?” A conversion of mind and heart by gratitude occurs when we offer the full net of our salvation history back to our Benefactor who at our birth, from the body of our mothers, pushed us into a universe of different seas so that we might fish and eat in them.
Ignatius of Loyola in his Spiritual Exercises directs that we contemplate our life’s “net” and offer everything we can remember back to the Lord without reserve. He bids us be aware of “the benefits received of Creation, Redemption, and particular gifts, pondering with much feeling how much God our Lord has done for you. ...”
At this exact moment in his Spiritual Exercises, the Contemplatio ad Amorem, Ignatius directs that we ponder in ecstasy how our life is a blessed gift. He commends his prayer to our own lips, his famous Suscipe:
Take, Lord, receive my liberty, my mind, my will, my memory. All things I have received from you. All things to you I now return. Lord, grant me only love for you. Give me grace to do your will. No other riches do I need. And I shall ask for nothing more.
Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. pre-pondered the moment of his death as the opportunity for his most perfect oblation to the Lord: “I agree, fundamentally, that the completion of the world is only consummated through death, a ‘night’, a reversal, an ex-centration, and a quasi-depersonalization. Union with Christ presupposes that we transpose the ultimate center of our existence into him — a radical sacrifice of egoism. Nevertheless, if Christ is to take possession of all my life — all of Life — then it is essential that I should grow in him not only by means of the ascetic constraints and the supremely unifying severances of suffering, but also by means of everything that my existence brings with it of positive effort, and the perfecting of my nature” (The Divine Milieu, p. 93).
We pray that, in the moment of our deaths, should we be conscious of its imminence, we too die in gratitude. Conscious of the heavy haul in our nets, let us abandon our grip on Life in love of God from whose abundance we received all things from our beginning until now our end.