January 29, May 30, September 29
Chapter 7: On Humility
We must be on our guard, therefore, against evil desires,
for death lies close by the gate of pleasure.
Hence the Scripture gives this command:
"Go not after your concupiscences" (Eccles. 18:30).
since the eyes of the Lord observe the good and the evil (Prov. 15:3)
and the Lord is always looking down from heaven
on the children of earth
"to see if there be anyone who understands and seeks God" (Ps. 13:2),
and since our deeds are daily,
day and night,
reported to the Lord by the Angels assigned to us,
we must constantly beware, brethren,
as the Prophet says in the Psalm,
lest at any time God see us falling into evil ways
and becoming unprofitable (Ps. 13:3);
and lest, having spared us for the present
because in His kindness He awaits our reformation,
He say to us in the future,
"These things you did, and I held My peace" (Ps. 49:21).
The theme of God seeking His laborers first expressed in the Prologue
comes back here, like background hints of melody woven through an
overture. God SEES us, yes, but He also SEEKS us, seeks those who
seek Him. If we forget God's loving, watchful care over us (He
assigns angels to us!) His affection is reduced to the charm of a
security camera, an "Eye in the sky."
Ever lose somebody in airport? It's a funny sort of panic, because
both of you know that ultimately, somehow you will connect. Until
that happens, however, a lot of anxious hunting takes place. Do you
know the joy when two such people finally find each other? It ain't
slight! While one says "Thank heavens I found you!" the other is
saying, "But I was looking for you, too, EVERYWHERE!" There is a
great common blessing in such moments, one which far transcends the
anxiety of the search which preceded it.
That's how it is with God. While we are seeking Him, He is seeking
us. There is so much love in that seeking, on both parts. The novice
is to be examined to see if she truly seeks God. But the question is
not just for novices. "Quaeremus inventum," said St. Augustine: "Let
us seek Him Whom we have found." And so it goes. A monastic life done
right has seeking and finding writ large on every page, from
beginning to end.
Angels got a bad press in the Roman Catholic world in the late 60's
and beyond. It became fashionable to be rather scornful of such
belief and some skeptics viewed guardian angels as only a slight step
beyond the fairy godmothers of children's tales. Well, folks, it was
one time they weren't on the crest of a wave. The signs of the times
told them so emphatically when a ground swell of popularity arose
with angels as its focus.
To some, angels are less threatening as a concept than God. They are
more than human, but less than divine. They share our status of being
creatures, but they have powers beyond our ken. No wonder popular
culture embraced them: they are a very good entry level awareness of
something beyond, something spiritual.
Whatever else they may be, angels are real. Why waste 'em? Let them
help us all they can and let us ask for more besides! There may be
reservations among some of us about praying to saints, but Scripture
abounds with examples of conversations with angels. Go for it!
By the way, the Guardian Angels are the patrons of the American
Cassinese Congregation and their feastday is coming up: Oct. 2, this
Thursday. I know some guys who probably would have loved to change
that during the "bad press" years. Thankfully, no one did! Holy
Guardian Angels, pray for us!
Love and prayers,