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I should say first of all that Chopin’s 1st Piano Concerto is one of my favorite pieces of music in the world….but this is pretty close.
There are in fact many observable similarities between the two. In any case, have a splendid evening 🙂
In my first Encyclical, I offered some thoughts on the close relationship between the theological virtues of faith and charity. Setting out from Saint John’s fundamental assertion: “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us” (
1 Jn 4:16), I observed that “being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction … Since God has first loved us (cf. 1 Jn 4:10), love is now no longer a mere ‘command’; it is the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us” (Deus Caritas Est, 1). Faith is this personal adherence – which involves all our faculties – to the revelation of God’s gratuitous and “passionate” love for us, fully revealed in Jesus Christ. The encounter with God who is Love engages not only the heart but also the intellect: “Acknowledgement of the living God is one path towards love, and the ‘yes’ of our will to his will unites our intellect, will and sentiments in the all-embracing act of love. But this process is always open-ended; love is never ‘finished’ and complete” ( ibid., 17). Hence, for all Christians, and especially for “charity workers”, there is a need for faith, for “that encounter with God in Christ which awakens their love and opens their spirits to others. As a result, love of neighbour will no longer be for them a commandment imposed, so to speak, from without, but a consequence deriving from their faith, a faith which becomes active through love” ( ibid., 31a). Christians are people who have been conquered by Christ’s love and accordingly, under the influence of that love – “C aritas Christi urget nos” ( 2 Cor 5:14) – they are profoundly open to loving their neighbour in concrete ways (cf. ibid., 33). This attitude arises primarily from the consciousness of being loved, forgiven, and even served by the Lord, who bends down to wash the feet of the Apostles and offers himself on the Cross to draw humanity into God’s love.
-Pope Benedict XVI
Do we have the freedom to honor God’s Natural Law? Apparently not in the US
Please, in your charity, offer a prayer or two for me.
My wishes for a calm and peaceful evening to you all. On a night like tonight, here, wherever I am or you might be, I find this piece to lift my soul to God. My sincerest hopes and prayers that it might bring you the serenity that it brings my mind and heart.
Every day, from one end of the earth to the other, in the highest heights of the heavens and in the profoundest depths of the abysses, everything preaches, everything publishes, the admirable Mary! The nine choirs of angels, men of all ages, sexes, conditions and religions, the good and the bad, nay, even the devils themselves, willingly or unwillingly, are compelled by force of truth to call her Blessed. Saint Bonaventure tells us that all the angels in Heaven cry out incessantly to her: “Holy, holy, holy Mary, Mother of God and Virgin;” and that they offer to her millions and millions of times a day, the Angelical Salutation, Ave Maria, prostrating themselves before her, and begging of her in her graciousness to honor them with some of her commands. Even Saint Michael, as Saint Augustine says, although the prince of the heavenly court, is the most zealous in honoring her and causing her to be honored, and is always anxiously awaiting the honor of going at her bidding to render service to some of her servants.
The whole earth is full of her glory, especially among Christians, by whom she is taken as the protectress of many kingdoms, provinces, dioceses and cities. Many cathedrals are consecrated to God under her name. There are not some miraculous images where all sorts of evils are cured, and all sorts of good gifts obtained. Who can count the confraternities and congregations in her honor? How many religious orders have been founded in her name and under her protection? How many members in these confraternities, and how many religious men and women in all these orders, who publish her praises and confess her mercies! There is not a little child who, as it lisps the Hail Mary, does not praise her. There is scarcely a sinner who, even in his obduracy, has not some spark of confidence in her. Nay, the very devils in Hell respect her while they fear her
-St. Louis de Monfort
True Devotion to Mary #1-21
Chris Jackson’s Interesting Analysis on an Apparent Conflict Between Cardinal Muller and Ecclesia Dei Regarding SSPX
Many (including myself) are confused about the near future of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), giving some conflicting reporting this week. Earlier this week, Ed Pentin of EWTN’s National Catholic Register released a lengthy interview with His Excellency Bishop Bernard Fellay, SSPX, in which His Excellency clearly describes the status of the SSPX discussions with Pope Francis and Msgr. Pozzo of the Ecclesia Dei Commission.
Mr. Pentin is usually a very trusted source, who seeks the truth without succumbing to political rhetoric from liberal Bishops, Cardinals, and Michael Voris/CMTV. Furthermore, Mr. Pentin is far from a so-called ‘traditionalist’, so I think everyone can usually trust his reporting to be (at least) less-biased.
Unfortunately, Mr. Pentin — in light of this interview, which I think is fantastic — has made more news, reporting that Cardinal Muller, prefect of the CDF, believes the Society is prepared to cave on doctrinal disputes, in order to return to full Communion. He writes:
Cardinal Gerhard Müller has said he expects the Society of St. Pius X, which has always opposed the Second Vatican Council’s declarations on religious freedom and ecumenism, to “unreservedly recognize” freedom of religion as a human right, and an obligation to ecumenism.
In an interview in the June edition of the German publication Herder Korrespondenz, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said that if one “wants to be fully Catholic, one must recognize the Pope and the Second Vatican Council.”
Cardinal Müller said he expects a recognition of all the Council declarations that deal with these issues, according to the interview, reported on the Austrian Catholic website, Kathpress, May 24.
His comments come after reports that the Society of St. Pius X, which continues to oppose key teachings of the Second Vatican Council regarding ecumenism, freedom of religion and aspects of liturgical reform, may be close to being recognized by the Holy See.
What strikes me about this comment from Cardinal Muller is that he seems to fundamentally misunderstand the Society of St. Pius X, or that he is confusing it with another group (perhaps the sedevacantist group, the Society of St. Pius V). As someone who attended an SSPX chapel while at Michigan, and someone who follows this situation closely, I can ensure you that the SSPX unassailably recognizes Pope Francis as the legitimate Pope, and they accept the Second Vatican Council as what it was declared to be by Pope John XXIII when His Holiness commenced the council, a pastoral council and not a dogmatic one.The Society prays for Pope Francis at everyone Mass, and Pope Francis has even said several times that the Society is Catholic, and within the Church (though not in full Communion). Take, for example, Pope Francis’ interview with La Croix:
– On April 1, you received Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior-general of the Priestly Fraternity of St Pius X. Is the re-integration of the Lefebvrists into the Church again under consideration?
Pope Francis: In Buenos Aires, I often spoke with them. They greeted me, asked me on their knees for a blessing. They say they are Catholic. They love the Church.
Bishop Fellay is a man with whom one can dialogue. That is not the case for other elements who are a little strange, such as Bishop Williamson or others who have been radicalized. Leaving this aside, I believe, as I said in Argentina, that they are Catholics on the way to full communion.
During this year of mercy, I felt that I needed to authorize their confessors to pardon the sin of abortion. They thanked me for this gesture. Previously, Benedict XVI, whom they greatly respect, had liberalized the use of the Tridentine rite mass. So good dialogue and good work are taking place.
The Society of Pope Pius X, it is clear, accepts the Pope as Pope (the SSPV does not ), and the Pope accepts the SSPX as Catholic. It is clear, too, that the SSPX is not in schism — which liberals love to spout, for several reasons. First Cardinal Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, said blatantly:
Does the Indult advance an ecumenism “ad intra”?
Please, accept that I reject the term “ecumenism ad intra”. The Bishops, Priests, and Faithful of the Society of St Pius X are not schismatics. It is Archbishop Lefebvre who has undertaken an illicit Episcopal consecration and therefore performed a schismatic act. It is for this reason that the Bishops consecrated by him have been suspended and excommunicated. The priests and faithful of the Society have not been excommunicated. They are not heretics. I do, however, share St Jerome’s fear that heresy leads to schism and vice versa. The danger of a schism is big, such as a systematic disobedience vis-à-vis the Holy Father or by a denial of his authority. It is after all a service of charity, so that the Priestly Society gains full communion with the Holy Father by acknowledging the sanctity of the new Mass.
You can take each bit of that and pick it apart and argue over it, but it quite clear that Pope Francis considers them in the Church.
Furthermore, the Society does not want to be out of the Church, so there is no intent to break the unity of the Catholic Church, which is the definition of Schism. Cardinal Hoyos discussed the act of Archbishop Lefebvre as a schismatic act, but one which did not lead to schism. This is backed-up by Pope Benedict XVI, both in the talks with Bishop Fellay and in his 2007 letter which accompanied Summorum Pontificum:
What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.
Further, leaving the entire discussion of Archbishop Lefebvre out of this, Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunications of (at least) 4 Bishops of the SSPX, namely Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Alfonso de Galarreta, and Richard Williamson (who is a more difficult case now, and who has been kicked out of the SSPX). Cardinal Re wrote:
On the basis of the powers expressly granted to me by the Holy Father Benedict XVI, by virtue of the present Decree I remit the penalty of excommunication latae sententiae incurred by Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta, and declared by this Congregation on 1 July 1988. At the same time I declare that, as of today’s date, the Decree issued at that time no longer has juridical effect.
Just a quick note: there is a lot of discussion about the meaning of this, but in the most liberal sense, the excommunications no longer hold.
Nonetheless, we can see that the SSPX is clearly not in schism.
Read more on that HERE.
In regards to the Second Vatican Council, Pope John XXIII on October 11, 1962, in his opening speech said:
The manner in which sacred doctrine is spread, this having been established, it becomes clear how much is expected from the Council in regard to doctrine. That is, the Twenty-first Ecumenical Council, which will draw upon the effective and important wealth of juridical, liturgical, apostolic, and administrative experiences, wishes to transmit the doctrine, pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion, which throughout twenty centuries, notwithstanding difficulties and contrasts, has become the common patrimony of men. It is a patrimony not well received by all, but always a rich treasure available to men of good will.
Our duty is not only to guard this precious treasure, as if we were concerned only with antiquity, but to dedicate ourselves with an earnest
will and without fear to that work which our era demands of us, pursuing thus the path which the Church has followed for twenty centuries.
The salient point of this Council is not, therefore, a discussion of one article or another of the fundamental doctrine of the Church which has repeatedly been taught by the Fathers and by ancient and modern theologians, and which is presumed to be well known and familiar to all.
For this a Council was not necessary. But from the renewed, serene, and tranquil adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness, as it still shines forth in the Acts of the Council of Trent and First Vatican Council, the Christian, Catholic, and apostolic spirit of the whole world expects a step forward toward a doctrinal penetration and a formation of consciousness in faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine, which, however, should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another. And it is the latter that must be taken into great consideration with patience if necessary, everything being measured in the forms and proportions of a Magisterium which is predominantly pastoral in character.
This shows that Vatican II was not a doctrinal council, but rather a pastoral council. No new doctrine was defined. This is what Bishop Fellay is discussing in the interviews above. It is clear that Ecclesia Dei considers the disputes to not be doctrinal and that reconciliation can occur without the Society having to accept changes in Church teachings. The Society accepts at least every bit of the Catholic Church teaching until 1962 — and it does not oppose the idea that doctrine can develop or that pastoral guidelines can change! — but it recognizes that several teachings (namely Ecumenism, Religious Liberty, Collegiality, &c.) are not in keeping with ~1962 years of prior Catholic teaching, and that they present direct contradictions to prior Church teaching. The situation with the SSPX is not a dispute over the Mass; the Society accepts the Novus Ordo Missae as being a licit and valid rite of Mass.
There is a lot more that can be said about this, but I hope that this post provided a bit of the foundation to understand the reason for this article, which is analysis on the apparent conflict between Cardinal Muller and Pope Francis/Pope Benedict/Cardinal Hoyo/Msgr Pozzo. See the link to Chris Jackson’s article below.
I will keep you updated if the situation progresses, but it is my speculation that if any reconciliation occurs in the near future, it will not be as Cardinal Muller expresses (which it seems Rev. Fr. Z speculates), but rather — either — a unilateral recognition of Pope Francis (see more from one of the best bloggers Deus Ex Machina HERE and HERE), or a recognition consistent with the statements from the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.
Fabled as perhaps the most dreaded place for a guy to be on Earth, at least in Hollywood, the friend zone is the source of countless movie plots. Many men spend many hours talking about this place: ‘Am I in it?’, ‘How do I get out?’, &c.
But here is a different perspective: Don’t try to get out of the friend zone — in fact, try to get into it.
Look, I’m not saying that you should never try to find someone special. If that were the case, we wouldn’t be here and human life would cease to exist. From the instant God said, “Go forth and multiply”, the human race has been procreating and raising children. I’m simply saying, this dreaded place is no place to dread. Instead of pursuing a man or a woman as a potential relationship, we should pursue a friendship with him or her first.
We’re in a hyper-sexualized society: movies are turning into pornography, children are being scandalized at school at ridiculously young ages, and songs are no better than the movies. We are taught that sex comes before marriage and the object of sex isn’t procreation; we are taught that we need to live together first or we can’t possibly understand what it would be like to be married (like somehow our ancestors just got lucky for literally thousands of years). And worst of all, we’re taught that somehow two in a relationship cannot be friends first — that it’s one or the other.
Maybe this is why divorce rates sky-rocketed in the 20th Century?
Call me crazy, but I want to be friends — maybe even best friends — with my wife before we get married. I want to be in a platonic relationship to know that the foundation of that relationship is something tangible and not based on some fabrication that we have both put up to attract the other.
His Excellency Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke once said that the greatest defense against evil is the love of a husband and wife.
Sister Lucia, one of the visionaries of Our Lady of Fatima, wrote that Our Lady said that the final confrontation between Our Lord and Satan would be over marriage and the family.
4 Who answering, said to them: Have ye not read, that he who made man from the beginning, Made them male and female? And he said:
5 For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh.
6 Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.
The gift of marriage — rather the vocation to marriage — is one that can’t be taken lightly. As a spouse, you are called to love your spouse with such a pure love that this love cannot help but multiply; where two fleshes become one, two fleshes result. Our Lord talks about how marriage results in the joining of the fleshes of two spouses into one being. From this union comes the ultimate result: a child.
We talk all the time about a crisis in vocations. Will we have enough priests to offer the sacraments? Will we have enough sister and nuns to educate our children, care for the sick, or pray for our world? But we have equally a crisis in another vocation: good, holy, parents and spouses. Will we have enough true Catholics to raise our children and ensure that the depositum fidei left by Our Lord to His apostles will spread throughout the world? And the root of all this is what Cardinal Burke, perhaps unexpectedly, identified in that quote. We combat the world, the flesh, and the devil with the pure love of a husband and wife; and that love is rooted in friendship.
I think the obvious fear people have (especially men) is that their friends do not see them as viable spouses. That somehow she isn’t attracted to him as a spouse, because she’s attracted to him as a friend — or vice versa for men and women. And I’m not attempting to say this is a stupid or worthless fear: In many instances, the two friends would not be ideal partners. But let me ask you this — if that is the case, that you two will never be spouses, does that mean you can’t be friends?
Maybe that is confusing. The gist is this: suppose he’ll never see you as more than a friend. Then are you prepared to say that you’re only willing to be friends with him if it leads to something more? I hope not. If I were attracted to one of my best friends who is a girl and she never saw us as anything more than friends, then that would not mean I would want to stop being friends with her. Almost certainly we’re friends for a reason — maybe we have the same sense of humor, or share similar interests. Losing that relationship would be worse than the potential gain of advancing it.
You see, our friendship with someone must not necessarily result in a relationship. It shouldn’t in most cases. But our relationship with someone must necessarily be the result of a friendship. A subtle distinction, to be sure, but one of vast importance.
And with that comes something else: Can we change how we view relationships? Why can’t one of your best friends be your best friend and your spouse? I’m just talking hypothetically here. Obviously there are many factors that go into a good relationship, but chief among them is probably mutual respect. Don’t get me wrong — there are relationships of mine that could probably never progress into something more, but the reason is not because we are friends.
Let’s change how we think about things, before it gets too late. I’ve had instances where I’ve ‘friend-zoned’ girls and come to realize later that I was a fool for doing so. I would be shocked if that doesn’t happen the other way around too.
In short, this post is nothing more than a suggestion that your friend, whom you see as just a friend, might be your ideal spouse. In short, this post is a plea to stop viewing the friend zone as some dreaded end-place, but rather the necessary beginning. Strive to be in the so-called ‘friend zone’ and see where that takes you; don’t strive to be friends later.
See — the root of being ‘friend-zoned’ is very often not that your friend isn’t attracted to you. In most cases, your “relegation” is nothing more than happenstance: Something out of your control happened and she saw you as a friend, or something happened in his life when you met whereby he wasn’t ready to be in a relationship. Life is funny like that sometimes, right? The root of being in the friend zone is often as random as getting out of it. But your goal shouldn’t be to take every opportunity you can to get out of it; your goal shouldn’t be to scheme a way to get out of the friend zone.
I truly believe that sometimes we are placed in people’s lives sometimes to help them through a moment of difficulty. Often this is a short-lived relationship (in the long run), and sometimes it develops into a long-lasting, mature, and strong relationship — if only platonic. Being a friend to someone does not mean that your friend can’t find you attractive, just as it does not mean that you can’t find your friend attractive.
Ultimately, I can’t give you advice on how to develop that friendship into something more. I’m sure a quick Google search will reveal all the tricks of the trade. But in many ways that is the antithesis of this post: Stop scheming, stop choosing your friends with the intention that he or should could be your husband or wife. That will only lead to regret.
Live in the moment as that moment dictates.
Live as your state in life calls you to live. Live a life full of joy for your friends — help him or her brainstorm ways to ask his or her crush to prom, or talk about their problems with them. Be a genuine friend with no ulterior motives. Seriously. Be friend-zoned by all your friends of the opposite sex — hear me out on this.
Our society is captivated by “True Love”. I use quotations around that phrase, not because I don’t believe in it. We pay millions of dollars a year to believe that there is someone perfect out there for us. That we are destined to meet him or her. Well if we believe this, then why are we forcing things? If she is the perfect one, won’t she recognize that, too? If he is to fall in love with you someday, why does it matter if that day is today or next year?
Through all of it, pray for your friends. All of them. Pray for the ones you love, and pray for the ones you’ll never love — because at the end of your life, you’ll hopefully be surrounded with that one special person…and dozens of other friends as well.
Too often we rely on God as a genie, granting our wants and our desires. We pray to Him with the impression that “if we pray hard enough”, or “if we show Him just how much we want something”, He’ll grant us our wish. We pray for good grades, we pray for success in a public event; we pray for an award, or to look a certain way. We pray for a result in a sports match. But why? In essence, we’re telling God, “I need this to be happy.”
We are all guilty of this, I’m sure. At least I am. I do my fair share of prayers to God to help me get by: “My God, please help me perform as well as I am able to on this exam”, or “Lord, please don’t let me embarrass myself tomorrow as I try to give a presentation.” And I even try to disguise it sometimes, as if I could trick Him: “Lord, help me get this award so that I can glorify You with it.” And as I think back on these events in my life, I am sickened. I am sickened that I needed to disguise a personal success, and that my genuine interest was not the glorification of God through all my actions.
Sure, it’s perfectly good to use opportunities that God has given you to glorify Him, and to bring souls to His Holy Church. But God isn’t a genie. He doesn’t magically grant us wishes because we ask.
Don’t look to me as a model for how to pray. In fact, Our Lord spoke explicitly about how to pray, remember? He said in Matthew 6:
5 And when ye pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, that love to stand and pray in the synagogues and corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men: Amen I say to you, they have received their reward.
6 But thou when thou shalt pray, enter into thy chamber, and having shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee.
7 And when you are praying, speak not much, as the heathens. For they think that in their much speaking they may be heard.
8 Be not you therefore like to them, for your Father knoweth what is needful for you, before you ask him.
9 Thus therefore shall you pray: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our supersubstantial bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil. Amen.
Mother Angelica called this, the Pater Noster, the perfect prayer… and for good reason. But notice with what Our Lord prefaces this prayer: “When you are praying, speak not much, as the heathens. for they think that in their much speaking they may be heard. Be not you therefore like to them, for your Father knoweth what is needful for you, before you ask him.”
This speaks right to the point of this post: Don’t use God as a genie. Don’t use Him as a get-out-of-jail-free card. God knows what we need, but to be fair it also doesn’t mean we shouldn’t ask. He wants us to have a relationship with Him, just as well.
Like I said, I am a flawed man. Probably more flawed than you, dear reader. But what do I pray for? I pray my rosary each day for three typical things:
- For the Holy Indulgences that are associated with the Rosary. If I am in a church building, I pray for the plenary indulgence. If I am at home or in the car, I pray for the partial indulgence.
- For the strength to fight off temptations. I pray each night for the virtue of chastity in dealing with lust; and I sometimes pray for the virtue of moderation in dealing with situations with alcohol, or for patience in dealing with situations where I might be angry. If I know how I might be tempted to sin, I pray for the self-control to combat that sin.
- For the souls of the faithful departed, especially my loved ones. At the end of each Rosary, I pray for the souls in purgatory, and I sometimes pray my entire Rosary for these souls as well.
Listen, there are many admirable things to pray for, and the point of this post isn’t to say that you’re praying wrong. The point of this post is to prompt an examination of your prayer life.
Are you praying for things that will please you, or things that will please God?
Here’s the rub: God created us free from Original Sin. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, cast original sin on us, and broke our ability to return the love to Him, our God. So God took on flesh, became the Word incarnate (=in flesh). God became man in a hypostatic union — which means that He was perfectly God and perfectly man at the exact same time. And why? Because it took a human, not God in man’s appearance but a man, to make repentance for our sin.
This is a beautiful bit of theology: God became one of us, to free us from the eternal death that we cast on ourselves. It took a man to die in atonement for our sins, but it took a God to resurrect Himself, to conquer death. Our Lord Jesus Christ was perfectly God and perfectly man at the same time — in a hypostatic union.
But the point of that is this: God gave us a first chance: through Adam and Eve. Then God died for us to give us the opportunity to go join Him in Heaven, provided we are baptized. And thennn God gave us the Sacrament of Penance in case we screw up and fall out of His favor by sinning. God gave us — not one… not two… but — three infinite gifts of eternal life.
Some get mad that God doesn’t answer their prayers with the answer they would like. Some lose faith because God doesn’t appear to be there. But do you ever stop and realize just what God did for us? What God does for us every day?
And I’m not talking the little gifts every day: the smile someone give you in the hallway, the compliment from a teacher, the beautiful sunset or moving music, the good hair day, or the great workout you had. Forget about all of those.
Suppose you had the worst life in the world… You’re still living… Think about that for a second. There’s a famous quote that goes: “If God stopped thinking about you for even a second, you would cease to exist.” Isn’t that true? Aren’t we here because God is thinking about us each and every second of every day?
And furthermore, God has already given us a gift that we can never repay: He has given us the opportunity to live eternally with Him in Heaven — to be privy to the Beatific Vision someday.
Would you ever feel as though a family of a friend who sacrificed his life so that you could live owes you anything? Probably not. You’d probably feel eternally indebted to them. Well what about God? He has sacrificed Himself not just so that we can live here on Earth but so that we can live forever. And yet we ask for things like the attention of a particular man or woman, or success on an examination.
God owes us nothing. And just about everyone knows that deep down, I’m sure of it. But sometimes we lose sight of it, especially in hard times, and we wonder “Where were you God?”
There’s a beautiful poem called Footsteps in the Sand, which many of you probably know. It goes:
One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.
After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.
This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”
He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”
In some sense, this is absolutely correct. In fact, I cannot remember the context of why I read this the first time, but I was instantly brought to tears. Our God is Love, right? He loves us so much and desires so much for us to be with Him eternally that our actions away from Him hurt Him more than we could ever comprehend. That’s why He gave us Holy Mother Church, to give us everything we need to join Him someday.
But in a larger context, it doesn’t matter. He is with us all the time, but even if He was not, He still makes His sacrifice available to us at every Mass validly celebrated. He still became incarnate so that He could die for our sins.
In closing, I guess the point of this point is that God is not a genie, and He isn’t Santa Claus. He doesn’t sit in Heaven thinking: “Okay, well little Johnnie has been nice this year, so I’ll grant him whatever he prays the hardest for.” God desires our love for Him. That’s why He doesn’t just grant the Beatific Vision to everyone. He wants us to choose Him.
Perhaps moving forward, we can all be a little more grateful for what God has blessed us with already, and more conservative with what we ask for from God. Might we ask, instead of for gifts and relationships with humans and successes, for gifts of the Holy Ghost and relationships with God and charity. Might we ask for ways to be humbled instead of exalted, to forgive as we wish to be forgiven, and to love our neighbors because we love God, who desires their souls as much as He desires ours.
I’ll end with a favorite quote of mine from a passage of a prayer commonly called The Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.