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Monday, 20 April 2015

More from Father Rodriguez, et moi, on Gifts

The good Jesuit notes that God does not need our gifts. I have always had a visceral repulsion to those gifting courses some Catholic retreat houses have picked up from the Protestants.

The theology behind these is absolutely wrong.

Why? Maybe numbered points would help.
Just a few...
  1. As the superb spiritual writer. Father Rodriguez indicates, God does not need our gifts, so why concentrate on these?
  2. Society does not need our gifts.
  3. God and society need our holiness, our lack of egotism, our humility and perfection.
  4. All gifts are not ours anyway, but God's. Anything we have in our temperaments or natural talents, or even supernatural gifts come from God and go back to God. These are not ours to claim.
  5. Gifts only are given from Divine Providence, as Providence sees fit to use and nurture. We do not determine our gifts.
  6. Providence not only determines our gifts, but how we use these.
  7. Providence can also deny us the use of our gifts-this is a great suffering which causes death to egotism-I know!
  8. The gifts one may think one has may not be those from God at all.
  9. Charismatic gifts should not be confused with natural or other supernatural gifts, such as vocations.
  10. Only those in sanctifying grace can actually use gifts from God, Those in mortal sin cannot, and may have strong natural gifts which are confused with supernatural ones.
  11. God frequently chooses the less gifted--St. Bernadette is a case in point.
  12. There are internal and external gifts-gifts for one's self and gifts for the Church. Sometimes these overlap.
  13. Some people are more gifted than others. God is not the Great Democrat in the Sky.
  14. Leadership training of the young is not the same as these gift courses.
  15. Some gifts involve duty, some merit.
  16. Ergo, do not waste money on these false gifting programs. Interesting that I never liked these and suspected New Age influences as well as the Protestant confusion about grace. See my many posts on that subject of grace.
Here is the great Dominican, Garrigou-Lagrange, again, on Providence and gifts.

There is a great inequality, no doubt, in circumstances, natural and supernatural, among men here on earth. Some are rich, others are poor; some are possessed of great natural gifts, whereas others are of a thankless disposition, weak in health, of a melancholy temperament. But God never commands the impossible; no one is tempted beyond his strength reinforced by the grace offered him. The savage of Central Africa or Central America has received far less than we have; but if he does what he can to follow the dictates of conscience, Providence will lead him on from grace to grace and eventually to a happy death; for him eternal life is possible of attainment. Jesus died for all men, and among those who have the use of reason only those are deprived of the grace necessary for salvation who by their resistance reject it. Since He never commands the impossible, God offers to all the means necessary for salvation.
Moreover, not infrequently providence and justice will make up for the inequality in natural conditions by their distribution of supernatural gifts. Often the poor man in his simplicity will be more pleasing to God than the rich man, and will receive greater graces. Let us recall the parable of the wicked rich man recorded in St. Luke (16: 19-31) :
There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and feasted sumptuously every day. And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, who lay at his gate, full of sores, desiring to be filled with the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table. And no one did give him: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass that the beggar died and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom. And the rich man also died.... And lifting up his eyes when he was in torments, he saw Abraham... and he cried and said: Father Abraham, have mercy on me.... And Abraham said to him; Son, remember that thou didst receive good things in thy lifetime, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted and thou art tormented.
This is to declare in effect that, where natural conditions are unequal, providence and justice will sometimes make up for it in the distribution of natural gifts. Again, the Gospel beatitudes tell us that one who is bereft of this world's enjoyments will in some cases feel more powerfully drawn to the joys of the interior life. This is what our Lord would have us understand when He says: "Blessed are the poor in spirit.... Blessed are the meek... that suffer persecution for justice' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." [138]
The love of Jesus goes out to those servants of His nailed to the cross, because then they are more like Him through the effective oblation they make of their entire being for the salvation of sinners. In them He continues to live; in them He may be said to prolong down to the end of time His own prayers and sufferings, and above all His love, for perfect love consists in the complete surrender of self.

For some there comes a time when every road in life is barred against them; humanly speaking, the future holds out no prospect whatever to them. In some cases this is the moment when the call comes to something higher. Some there are who spend long years confined to a bed of pain; for these henceforth there is no way open but the way of holiness. [139]
And so providence and justice, while giving to each one what is strictly necessary, will often make up for any disparity in natural conditions by the bestowal of grace. They reward us, even in this life, for the merits we have gained, reminding us, too, of our solemn duties by salutary warnings and well-deserved corrections, which are no more than medicinal punishments for the purpose of bringing us back into the right path. In this way will a mother correct her child if she loves it with a really enlightened, ardent love. When these salutary corrections are well received, we make expiation for our sins, and God takes the opportunity of inspiring us with a more sincere humility and a purer, stronger love. There is a sharp distinction between souls according to their willingness or unwillingness to listen to these warnings from God.

More on this later... as it is a pet peeve of mine that people charge for this theologically dubious post, how to know what your real gifts are....and without a fee due.