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Sunday, 9 August 2015

Putting God Into A Box

Returning to the idea of discernment as understood by St. Ignatius, an idea which I covered in some posts earlier this year and last month, I want to emphasize a few points which may help some readers avoid the deadly fall into deceit when the times of tribulation come upon us.

One falls into deceit when one does not know one's self, and when one does not have a relationship with God. For St. Ignatius, one's relationship with God was a constant, something which "happened" all day, in every circumstance.

If one is talking with a friend, God is there in the conversation, When one is shopping, God is there with one, and when one is walking in the sunshine, God walks with one.

There is never, for the Catholic who is in sanctifying grace, a time when God is not in relationship.

For those who have been in love, we understand this permeation of love in all things, at all times.

God is conscious of us all the time. If He was not, we would not exist. In prayer, we attempt to become conscious of God, Who is with us all the time.

But, too many Catholics want to put God in a box. They do not want God to be in their living rooms, sitting by them at the computer, in the midst of a conversation.  The God-in-a-box is a safe God, a God controlled by one's own will.

Sometimes people remember their "conversion" or "reversion" experience as if that was the only time God was with them in some way.

It is good to remember important encounters with God, such as our First Communion Day, or the day one got married, or made a vow to a religious order and so on.

But, those peak moments do not define one's relationship with God.

God in one's life is not now and then, but always, all the time, everywhere.

God may be most obvious in suffering. Lately, I have encountered much I suffering and have tried to find God in that suffering.

Of course, I do find God in the suffering--the God of the Passion.

Every Friday, as part of my prayers for the Auxilium Christianorum, I pray the Litany of Humility.

Now, when one prays this, one must expect God to answer this litany. God takes us seriously when we pray.

Let me remind you of this litany. And, let me give you real examples of how God answers this, the God Who encounters us in ordinary as well as extraordinary events of our days.

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,

Deliver me, Jesus. Then, one loses a job, and loses status, becoming an invisible 

From the desire of being loved...Then, one is passed over by another, when one wants to be especially loved 
From the desire of being extolled ...Then, no one notices one's gifts or achievements
From the desire of being honored ...Ditto, and one is ignored even in small successes
From the desire of being praised ...Deeds are done unnoticed
From the desire of being preferred to others...One's friends have no time for one's company
From the desire of being consulted ...One is either told things one already knows, or one is not consulted when one has more knowledge
From the desire of being approved ...Then, one is actually not approved of, but finds only distrust and disdain from others; the following are the tests of no longer fear even betrayal or mistrust, or being unloved....because in holiness, they have found freedom...
From the fear of being humiliated ...Christ let Himself be put in a manger
From the fear of being despised...Christ allowed Himself to be hated by His Own People
From the fear of suffering rebukes ...Christ was slapped and spit upon
From the fear of being calumniated ...Christ was accused of false teaching
From the fear of being forgotten ...The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests....
From the fear of being ridiculed ..."If you are the Son of God, come down from the Cross."
From the fear of being wronged ...Judas, a friend, betrayed Christ
From the fear of being suspected ..."Is not this the carpenter's Son?"
That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I ...Finally, one takes joy in this...
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease ...Finally, one only wants to be hidden in God
That others may be chosen and I set aside ...One sits with Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane
That others may be praised and I unnoticed ...One comes to understand the truth of being lowly
That others may be preferred to me in everything...and, one rejoices in letting others be recognized over one
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…seeing that God has called one to be a little one, and not a great saint....

When one is able to fulfill the graces of this litany, a person would be completely free. God would not longer be in a box, but one would walk and talk and sleep in God constantly.

If a Catholic does not want to become truly humble, he or she should not say this prayer.

God answers this prayer and He is no longer in the box of one's own making.

Sometimes, God will take a person to the edge of Gethsemane and make one wait until one is strong enough spiritually to enter into the Garden. One can see the darkness, but not understand, until He allows one into the place of His Own suffering.

Then, and only then, does the Catholic become authentic. Until one really accepts suffering with Christ in His Passion, all is pretense and play.

Three times Christ asked Peter is he loved Him, because of the three denials of Peter.

Not only was Christ showing Peter how to forgive, but the necessity of being open to the daily encounter with God. 

It is too easy to betray God. It is too easy to put Him into a box.

Like St. Ignatius, one has to come to the knowledge that God is with us, all around us, in every circumstance, constantly.

In this realization, we come to knowledge of the self, and knowledge of God.

The more one knows one's self and knows God, the greater is one's capacity to love.

We meet Christ at Mass Who has allowed us to put Him in a box, the tabernacle.  Christ Present in the Host has become the Vulnerable God, the Hidden God in the Host. One thinks that one can manipulate this Small God. 

Those who have put God in a box cannot appreciate either spiritually or spiritually the great freedom which Christ has given us in the Eucharist.

We consume God. We become one with Him as He becomes one with us. We become the box, the tabernacle of God. We hold Him either in love and awe, or even in a darkness. For those who receive Him unworthily, (and only God can make us worthy), the Body of Christ is again, as during the Passion, put into the cell of satan, the prison of one's own making.

Christ has made Himself accessible to us in the Host. He is the God of Bethlehem's manger, the God of the prison of the Sanhedrin, the God on the Cross...

The sacrilege of receiving Christ when in serious sin is a mocking of the Passion of Christ, and a denial of His suffering.

Either one allows God to purify the body, soul, imagination, memory and will, in order to become a holy receptacle, or one mocks God by imprisoning Him in one's own self-centeredness and sin.

One loses the chance to become more like Christ, and in the narcissism of sin, one wants to make Christ into one's own image and likeness.

Only humilty and love can save one from this putting God into a box.

Once one understands and experiences love, the box of one's own self becomes a little place of heaven, the cell of contentment and peace.

But, this takes courage. 

Be a tabernacle, not a prison. Let God out of the box of selfishness, malice, mistrust, fear...let Him meet you in freedom.

He is always with us, always, desiring us to meet Him in freedom, humility and love.

All barriers, all boundaries melt away, and one becomes alive trusting in God.

Life becomes exciting and new, and one learns to live outside the box of conformity, false comfort, and selfishness.

Let God out of the box of your own making. Let Him lead you into freedom.

BTW, during the Protestant Revolt in England, the Protestants made fun of the True Presence, by referring to the Eucharist as the Jack-in-the-Box, a reference to an earlier myth that a local saint in Princes Risborough captured the devil and put him into a boot. This horrible disrespect and blasphemy of the Protestants towards the Eucharist displayed itself in the mockery of the Consecrated Hosts in many places, including the documented throwing of the Hosts on the ground at Fountains Abbey and the visitators forcing the horses to trample Christ.

They put Christ in the box of their own power, imaginations, hatred...

Those men crucified Him again and again and again...

The tabernacles of England were emptied for a long time because people wanted to put God into a box of their own making.

God is more than we know...