Let Us Learn from the Fishermen

August 26, 2019 | Fr. Claude Lombardo, MC

There are many people who enjoy fishing. I’m one of them. I really enjoy catching trout in the lakes and rivers of Patagonia. Or at least, trying to…

What does it mean to go fishing? A fisherman will answer by describing the whole activity. The very preparation is already part of the ritual: inviting friends, choosing the place, getting the gear ready, selecting proper clothes to wear, assembling food and drink for the excursion… It is a kind of rite, and the fisherman enjoys every single detail.

When the set date gets closer, you start getting excited. The thought of being outdoors is tantalizing. And when you can finally throw the fishhook in the water… wow! It’s difficult to express what you feel! The long hours waiting and angling to get the first fish are awesome.

As you see, going fishing is much more than just the act of catching a fish. Of course, that’s the best part, but it’s not all of it. Even a bad day with no fish at all is not a waste of time for the real fisherman.

The more you know the art of fishing the more successful you’ll be. But of course, it’s not only a question of techniques and knowledge. There’s a good part of the experience that you cannot control. Perhaps this part is the one that makes this activity so attractive and fascinating.

You can choose the place: ocean, river, or lake. You can pick the bait according to the fish that you want to catch. You can select the fishing line, the fishing rod, and the reel. You can develop many different fishing techniques. You can even study the season, the time of day, the weather and the moon. However, no one can guarantee that you will actually catch a fish. There’s a mysterious component that we could call luck, destiny or whatever… which doesn’t depend on us.

And so, there are many similarities between fishing and prayer. You can choose the place: a chapel, your room, the outdoors. You can choose the matter: Scripture, a spiritual book, the life of a saint, your own journal. You can choose the amount of time that you will spend in prayer and the time of day. You can choose the posture of your body. You can meditate, using the three powers of the soul: memory, intellect and will; or contemplate, using more of the imagination. However, nobody can assure you that you will find consolation in your prayer or that your feelings are going to be satisfied. You cannot produce consolations according to your own will. The experience in prayer teaches us this crucial truth.

The act of prayer, similar to fishing, is beautiful itself, without asking for any supposed “result”. Spending time in prayer is being with the Lord, in intimate friendship. It’s speaking heart to heart. It’s strengthening and exercising our faith. It’s being vulnerable and available for the Lord to transform us.

It’s much more than feeling joy.

Praying with dryness is worth it, just as it is worth going fishing without catching anything.

When you feel nothing in prayer, when the consolations don’t show up, imitate the fisherman. Keep on trying, persevere, change the things that might not be the most appropriate, and try to enjoy the very act of prayer. Moreover, be at peace! It’s not under your control.

In the appropriate time, perhaps after many attempts, you can be sure that the divine Master will show you where to throw the net, and He will give you, as He did with the apostles, the joy of the miraculous catch of fish.