Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Patience


It was a beautiful Sunday morning as I drove home rom church.  The sun shone brightly through the trees, and sparkles reflected off the snow, and …

I SLAMMED ON THE BRAKES AND BRACED FOR THE COLLISION!

I think the events began on Friday.  Vince called in need of money (again), NOW, despite the fact that he was coming to work for me the very next day.  I was running around Friday, so I left him money on the porch, which he arranged to pick up.  The next day, Saturday morning, I felt an overwhelming urge to go to confession, although I wasn’t sure why.  So, I went to the church at confession time and sat off to the side, asking God to open my heart.  And in my readings and contemplations, I saw His heart.
“In proposing for our belief truths which we cannot understand, faith teaches us that instead of depending upon our own manner of reasoning and understanding, we ought rather to place our intellect in emptiness --- in order to unite ourselves to God… applying ourselves solely to what concerns God and His service.  We must love much.
Struggles, difficulties proceeding, failure of works that were cherished, physical and spiritual solitude --- these are some of the sufferings which are in the life of every man.  We must understand that all such things are positively willed or at least permitted by God precisely to purify us even to the fibers of our being.  We must never stop to examine whether or not they are just; we must see only the blessed hand of God.  It behooves the soul, then, to have patience and constancy in all tribulations and trials which God sends it.
The soul of faith sees in every person a messenger from our Lord.  It bows its head and accepts all humbly --- This must be our conduct, if we wish to draw profit from all the trials God places in our path.  We must keep ourselves from posing as a victim, from our complaining.  Let us be persuaded that all serves greatly for our spiritual progress, because before attaining to union with God, it is necessary to be reduced to nothingness, that is, to be established in profoundest humility…”
                                    -- Divine Intimacy
“Repent with your whole heart, to save yourselves and find life.  If we do this, we shall set an example for all young people, for whom the glory and goodness of God is a challenge.
Let me say also that when we are given a warning and corrected for doing something wrong, we should not be so foolish as to take offense and be angry.”
                                    -- St, Augustine
“The Spirit of God by far transcends my human intelligence.  I will see some things clearly; others will remain obscure.  The main task for my intellect henceforth will be to submit to the Spirit.”
                                    --  Adrienne Von Speyr, Water and Spirit

All those words I read while waiting to confess led me to see that often I was not listening to the words of the Spirit provided me, and even if I heard them, I acted on them in MY way, not seeking His way.  And at the crux of it all was not being patient and sometimes getting angry over events beyond my control.  And these things I confessed.  And I also thought to confess my judgement of Vince, my resentments of how he has lived, and that I can’t change him --- or be patient for God to do so.  I felt it a good Confession, and a level of confidence that I had perceived the reason for my perceived needing to meditate on my sins, which God showed me.  But that wasn’t enough.
On Saturday afternoon I picked up Vince and he put up my Christmas lights outside --- and asked for a few more dollars, which I readily offered.  I felt a contentment, and later my Saturday evening adoration time was peaceful.
But Sunday morning I felt my phone buzzing in my pocket during mass (as I promised a friend, I never turn it off anymore).  I glanced at the phone ---- something I never do during mass ---- and saw that it was Vince.  Again!  I forced myself to put thoughts of him out of my mind.  As the mass ended and the recessional hymn began, the very large family in front of me began to fuss, with the kids arguing and whining and crying, and I thought it a good time to leave church a bit early --- something I never do.
Being the first out of the parking lot, my thoughts went to Vince’s call.  He left no message.  Should I just whine my feelings when I call him back?  Should I call him back?  Should I say: No!  Enough!  Should I set some conditions for giving him further money?  “You have time to call me on a Sunday morning, they you have time to go to church!  Maybe they can offer you help.”  Or maybe I should tell him …
I SLAMMED ON THE BRAKES AND BRACED FOR THE COLLISION!
… My brain was on thoughts of Vince but my eyes perceived fast movement from my left.  Even as I was skidding, the deer raced right in front of my car.  With its quick passing, I felt my foot began to reflexively ease from the brake, when I again caught movement, and the baby deer veered to just miss the front of my vehicle as I watch it, wide-eyed with fear, chasing its mother.  And my next instinct was to glance up to the mirror, but there was no one behind me.  There would be no collision.  I relaxed a moment as I glanced at the books and papers which had flown to the floor of the car in my panic stop.
And then I recalled the lesson God had previously taught me: When I see that my way, my plans, are thwarted, I need to look to Him and ask: Do you have other plans for me, Lord?  Is there something I should be thinking or doing now?  And I recalled that God has also taught me that: There are no coincidences.  And so, I thought of Vince’s unexpected call during mass, my leaving mass early, and the near collision.  Yes, God got my attention with these “coincidences”.  And then I recalled what I had been thinking only moments before --- and I also recalled what I had been thinking Friday and Saturday, and how I had confessed my impatience, specifically in matters relating to Vince.  I vowed to repent and change --- until he called again.  How soon I forgot; how weak was my “firm resolve” to amend my life.  How dramatically God had to remind me.  And I said a prayer of thanks.
At least for a while, I will remember that there are no coincidences, and that all the trials and inconveniences I so easily worry about have a reason.  I need to trust.  I need to not be angry.  I need to be patient --- or I might find myself a REAL patient, if I cannot avoid some future accident. 
There is more to this story, as Tuesday I again won the Lottery, the exact amount Vince was asking “to borrow”, since he knows I will be out of town next week.  I don’t question these “coincidences.”  Friends think I am just being taken advantage of; I wish they could hear the Kimberly Hahn talk I wrote of here, about how all we have is not ours, but merely a gift of God’s which we take care of.  Like the parable of the talents, when we meet the Master there will be some accounting of how well we used these talents.  How can anyone be taking advantage of me, if God asks me to give some of HIS talents to a person HE puts in my path.  Nothing in this life is mine; I’ll take nothing with me when I leave, but the lessons learned in my heart.  Confession, resolve to change, seeing the will of God --- all good things, but we must constantly be using the events of our lives to be changing our hearts to be more like His, or it is all for nothing.    

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Review: The Day is Now Far Spent


On one level, Cardinal Sarah’s latest book is a philosophy of life, a broad look at history, current events and faith, about how they have shaped man, and how he has shaped them.  But on another level, Cardinal Sarah gets down-to-earth blunt:  things have changed in our culture, critical changes that are not being critically considered.
The book is divided into four sections: 1)Spiritual and Religious Collapse --- crises of faith, the priesthood, the Church and identity, 2)Man Belittled --- hatred of self and life, 3)The Fall of Truth, Morality and Politics --- events in the news; and 4)Hope --- God is still here.  In every section I have underlined sentences in my book which beautifully summarize Cardinal Sarah’s conclusions, summarize events, and the feelings in his heart.  There are many underlines.  For anyone who would wish to prayerfully understand the status of the world, man, God’s presence in our crises, and what SHOULD BE our status, this book is a good place to start.  For some, Cardinal Sarah’s words may feel blunt, but they are conclusions based on facts studied in faith, not rants of his opinion.  They are something, for those who say they wish to know the will of God, to consider.
- - - - - - - - - -
Some of the words I have underlined in my book:
§  This book is a cry of my soul.  The Church is dying because her pastors are afraid to speak in all truth and clarity.
§  If you think that your priests and bishops are not saints, then be one for them.  Do penance, fast to make reparations for their defects and cowardice.
§  Modern man has made himself the prisoner of reason that is so autonomous that it has become solitary and autistic.
§  Priestly celibacy anticipates what we will be in God in the fullness of life in the heavenly Kingdom.  Celibacy is in anticipation of eternal life with God.
§  The renewal will come from the monasteries.  I invite all Christians to share for a few days the experience of life in a monastery, (where) they experience the primacy given to the contemplation of God.
§  Wisdom begins with wonder, Socrates said.  The inability to wonder is the sign of a civilization that is dying.
§  In the West, God has become like those elderly parents in the nursing home whom the children forget to visit.
§  Tomorrow, who will say where the boundary is between what is human and what is non-human?  If human beings become manufactured products, who will be able to measure their fundamental dignity?
§  I think that the reason why there is a debate today about euthanasia is because we who are well cannot bear the presence of the sick and suffering.  They are begging for our love and compassion.  We no longer have enough love to give to them.  Our society is experiencing a drought of love, and so it wants to get rid of those who need it the most.
§  A river that is separated from its source continues to flow for a time.  But it will ultimately dry up.
§  The European crisis is essentially a spiritual crisis rooted in the rejection of God’s presence in the public life.
§  Everyone can do what he wants.  Everything is possible.  We have entered into a civilization of the chaos of desires --- the dictatorship of unbridled freedom.
§  Do not pray the Divine Office with your mobile phone.  You cannot manipulate a machine on which there are all sorts of apps and pray at the same time. … I think we ought to inaugurate a great media fast during Lent.  Christians should set the example of complete abstinence from the screen for forty days.
§  By not living as one believes, one ends up believing as one lives.
§  A parish in which there is no adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is a dead parish or a sick one.
§  We are like the disciples.  After the crucifixion, they no longer understand.  They think everything is lost.  We, too, see the world delivered over to the greed of the powerful.  The Church seems to be overcome by the spirit of atheism.  The sheepfold is devastated.  We walk without understanding and without knowing where to go.  Nevertheless, (as on the road to Emmaus) here is a man walking with us.  We tell him our sadness.  Then He speaks again, reproaching us for our lack of faith: “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!  Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?  Was it not necessary that the Church should suffer in order to be faithful to her Master?”  He rekindles our faith…. Stay with us, Lord, for it is evening and the day is now far spent.