Advent day 9

God was speaking to me today of fear and trust.

The first reading for mass today was from Isaiah. The verse that particularly struck me was “Say to those who are of a fearful heart, ‘Be strong, fear not!'” (35. 4). I think my anxiety boils down to having a fearful heart. I fear that I’m not teaching my children well enough, that my confirmation class won’t learn what they need to, that I won’t touch their hearts. And why do I fear? Because I’m relying on my own strength, not God’s. I have to empty myself of self, stop relying on myself and my abilities, and completely surrender to God.

Then in The Noonday Devil I read that “Holiness consists of such a state of poverty that at every moment one is obliged to ask everything of the Holy Spirit, one is dependent on him, convinced that without his grace one can do nothing” (p.177). In my mind I know this to be true, but I seldom put it in to practice. It’s not me who is going to get anything done or teach anyone or plant any seeds. It’s God.

This brings me back to the spiritual childhood that I’ve studied and tried to implement. Since I am human and not divine, I’ll never “graduate” in love or perfection. I’ll never “attain” in this life. I have to remember, every moment beginning again. Conversion of heart, day after day, minute after minute. Even in heaven, Bl. Newman says, we will be in this state of spiritual childhood: “and so on for eternity I shall ever be a little child beginning to be taught the rudiments of Thy infinite divine nature” (Lead, Kindly Light p.120).

Lord, remind me that I am Your child. That I always will be. I’ll never graduate or complete a level. Remind me to begin again each day, each moment. Help me to trust Your strength, Your knowledge, Your power.

 

Advent day 4

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment
In which the Son of God was born
Of the most pure Virgin Mary
At midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold.
In that hour, vouchsafe, I beseech thee, O my God,
To hear my prayer and grant my desires
Through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ
And of His Blessed Mother. Amen.

Today starts the St. Andrew novena, prayed 15 times per day from his feast day of Nov. 30 to Christmas Eve. It’s a novena I try to make every year. Inevitably I miss some days, but I do my best.

My verse from Psalms yesterday spoke of consolations (Ps. 94.19). Today in my spiritual reading (Lead, Kindly Light) I read, “O my God, let me never forget that seasons of consolations are refreshments here and nothing more. They are only intended to prepare us for doing and suffering” (p. 112). With both the bad and the good we can say, “This, too, shall pass.”

I experienced a great consolation today: adoration in my super-liberal parish. With Latin and incense and everything. My God, an answer to a long-standing prayer. My God, prepare me for what you have prepared for me to do or to suffer. Maranatha.

The Kingdom of God is NOT concerned with equality

Last night I was talking to my Dad about the corrupting idea of “fairness.” It seems rampant in our age. From Facebook posts of children and young adults whining, “It’s not fair!” to philosophers positing the unfairness of children being brought up by families to gay “marriage,” our society is inundated in a culture of “rights” and obsessed with seeking to make life “fair” for everyone (read: uniformity). One catch: you have to be lucky enough to survive the pre-natal period in order to enjoy any of these things.

This afternoon in my lectio divina I read Matthew 20.1-16, the parable of the householder and the vineyard. In it, Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to a householder going out to hire workers for his vineyard. The first bunch he hires at the beginning of the day; the next group a few hours later; another group even later; and finally, he hires the last workmen with only one hour of the workday left. When he pays them, he begins with the last group, giving them a full day’s wages. The first group gets excited because they think surely they will receive more pay than was agreed upon, since the slackers who only worked one hour were paid for working twelve. Surprise, surprise, the first group is paid exactly the same as all the others. They are indignant. “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat” (12, emphasis mine). In modern English: “That’s not fair!” The householder explains that he has not, in fact, done anything wrong to them. “Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go” (13, 14). Jesus ends with the words, “So the last will be first, and the first last” (16).

The workers in the vineyard, from those who worked all day to those who worked only one hour, are all in the Kingdom of God, yet there is a certain inequality. There are those who give their entire lives to God, working, suffering, sacrificing. Then there are those who spend their lives as they wish, concerned with no one but themselves, and have death-bed conversions. Both–and all in between–make up the Kingdom of God.

So this concept of fairness, equality. I do not think those words mean what you think that they mean, my fellow Christians. Yes, St. Paul says that, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3.28). He is talking about our ability to be members of the Kingdom of God. Under the Old Covenant, Jewishness was a requirement to be an heir of God’s promise to Abraham. Under the New Covenant, there is no such requirement. All are invited, but not all will accept the invitation.

This push in our society for fairness and equality is contrary to the Faith. It is a denial of what makes us human, what makes us male and female, what makes us different members of the Body of Christ, having different gifts and abilities and contributions. God loves all, but He gives to each what He wills according to His inscrutable knowledge of all things and His vision of all time. So our primary job is to love: to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Not to make sure our neighbor has everything we have (yes, basic necessities), not to make our neighbor exactly like us (male and female He created them), but to love them. Love concretely, love actively. Not feelings, but actions. How will they know we are Christians? By our love (John 13.35), not by our equality.

Why I write

I write in order to comprehend not to express myself
I don’t grasp anything I’m not ashamed to admit it” –Anna Kamieńska “The Lamp”

And that’s why I write this blog. To comprehend this life, my God, my Faith, myself. Forcing myself to put words on a page is hard work. It takes time and I’m a naturally impatient person. It slows me down, pulls my thoughts together, makes me dig for things that sometimes I’d rather stay buried. Even after I write I still don’t comprehend it all, but the very act of thinking, contemplating, wondering, questioning, helps to bring order at least.