Prayers, please, for Peg and her St. John's University classmates as
they begin their study abroad. Thanks. NRN JL
January 26, May 27, September 26
Chapter 7: On Humility
The first degree of humility, then,
is that a person keep the fear of God before his eyes
and beware of ever forgetting it.
Let him be ever mindful of all that God has commanded;
let his thoughts constantly recur
to the hell-fire which will burn for their sins
those who despise God,
and to the life everlasting which is prepared
for those who fear Him.
Let him keep himself at every moment from sins and vices,
whether of the mind, the tongue, the hands, the feet,
or the self-will,
and check also the desires of the flesh.
Wow! Fearing God and hell-fire! It's a safe bet that this chapter was
not the darling of the 1970's! But, if we look at it properly,
there's nothing to get upset about here.
God is perfect Unity, He is totally of a whole. He is all He is at
once and utterly. Human beings, on the other hand, have minds that
are finite and cannot wrap their intellects around such an perfectly
holistic God without problems. One of those problems is what seem to
us to be contradictions in God: His total, absolute Justice and His
unfathomable, infinite Divine Mercy. Since we have a hard time
figuring out both at once, we have a tendency to let one cancel out
the other. God, to many, is either ALL hell-fire and dread or ALL
pushover and cuddly.
Sorry, folks, but the nature of heresy is to take a real part of the
truth and make it ALL of the truth, the only truth. Foul up the
delicate balance here and you are in deep trouble. Face it, God's
perfections don't seem to trouble Him any- perfection shouldn't,
after all- so why should they get us hung up? Deep breath, lots of
faith and let's go on...
God is all at once, God is perfect, God does not change. OK, fine.
But we change, time in which we are immersed changes, has to change.
It is the nature of things. hence, our convergences with God occur at
different times, points and conditions. The whole equation changes,
not because God changes, but because we do and must. Stop and think,
the encounter between God and one lost in sin is different from the
same person encountering God after years of conversion. The encounter
between a living soul and one after death is different, not because
God is, but because we are.
We see different Persons of the Trinity predominant in different ages
of salvation history. Might we not just as safely assume that
different attributes of God predominate at different times in His
dealings with us? Anyone who has lived any length of time at all with
God can tell you that aridity and tenderness, loving kindness and
seeming absence, joy and seriosity play off each other singly or in
groups, like light dancing through the kaleidoscopes of our soul's
broken glass and shattered gems. The pattern is always changing. All
the elements are always there, but they are constantly regrouping,
forming new and dare one say hardly boring designs!
So, always try to remember that WE are the kaleidoscopes and that the
Light shining through them does not change, even though our scattered
bits may reflect it differently, to ourselves and to others. The
justice is always there, but so is the mercy. Jesus told St. Faustina
that now, in this life, is the time for mercy, which will never, ever
be denied a soul. Dump that chance in this life and justice will be
what you deal with in the next. It seems simplistically harsh, but it
isn't. We are swimming, all but drowning in a sea of infinite mercy
right now. When we leave that sea, we will wind up on the shore of
justice, unless we have guaranteed that mercy is already ours.
God is not itching to nail us, eager to condemn. But we can tie His
hands- we are the only creatures who can do so! We can insist on
justice by rejecting His mercy. Not a smart move... God is merciful,
but not dumb, just, but not unreasonable. His mercy and justice are
part of a whole, they both perfectly reflect and employ His love.
What changes is not God, but us. What changes is our willingness to
accept or reject His overtures at any given moments.
So, yeah, God is watching us all the time. But also, yeah, God
forgives us the second we turn to him and trust in his mercy. God
knows we aren't perfect, so He isn't surprised that we fall. We, on
the other hand, can be distressingly wrong about how perfect we are!
Our falls shock us badly, because we have so little humility. Think
there might be a connection there about God doing or using all things
to further His will? Our very falls teach us humility that we sorely
Love and prayers,
St. Mary's Monastery Petersham, MA