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Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Perfection Series II. Angela Part Three

Those who are poor endure many sufferings, which if accepted, join one to the sufferings of Christ. People who can avoid suffering poverty, should and rejoice in the gifts of God. But, they absolutely must not look down or scorn those who are not so blessed.

The blessings of wealth come completely freely from God, and despite the feelings or convictions of those who are wealthy, these gifts do not come from our own efforts, but from God’s Providence.

Angela of Foligno reminds us that only in realizing our own wretchedness can we find God. I have moments of joy, but not consistently, as I am so far from perfection, when people revile me. “Why don’t you get a job?” (I have applied to so many, I have lost count.) “Why don’t you buy a car to get to a job?” (Banks do not give car loans to people without incomes. And, I could not afford to keep a car.)  “Why don’t you move in with some man to pay your way?” (No answer to that one.., which I heard last week.)  “Why does not son not leave the seminary to help you? (He does not exist for my happiness, but for God, to Whom he belongs. And, he would merely join the 50% of the unemployed of his age group.) “Why don’t you move back to Europe?” (Ummm…again, no answer to that one.) “Why don’t you apply for HUD housing?” (There is an eight year waiting list in this city and a ten year waiting list across the River.)

For those who have never faced their own wretchedness, the idea that to know one is nothing and to know that one is helpless in the face of poverty can be freeing is completely mysterious. The freeing of one’s self from the opinions of others brings an objectivity about grace and sin. Angela writes this and I paraphrase-that all knowledge of God comes from knowledge of self.  The self is a prison which keeps us from the Love and Mercy of God.

There is only one way to achieve both the knowledge of God and knowledge of self. This is the way of meditating, contemplating on the Crucifixion of Christ.

Thinking about the Passion of Christ reveals many things to one’s self. If one cannot do this, one is running away from suffering. If one can meditate on the sufferings of Our Lord, He begins to join His sufferings with ours.  One begins to enter into His suffering by this invitation.

We know we love someone when we want to share in their sufferings and not run away from these pains.  To focus on the sufferings of Christ is to be reminded that He actually chose to endure these pains so that we can join Him in eternal bliss.

St. Angela states that if one wants to become perfect, one must accept suffering, penance, disdain...

Such is love….

To be continued…