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Friday 29 May 2015

Time for A Review on Providence in These Darkening Times

From Julian of Norwich:

God, of thy goodness, give me Thyself;
for Thou art enough for me,
and I can ask for nothing less
that can be full honor to Thee.
And if I ask anything that is less,
ever Shall I be in want,
for only in Thee have I all.” 
“...deeds are done which appear so evil to us and people suffer such terrible evils that it does not seem as though any good will ever come of them; and we consider this, sorrowing and grieving over it so that we cannot find peace in the blessed contemplation of God as we should do; and this is why: our reasoning powers are so blind now, so humble and so simple, that we cannot know the high, marvelous wisdom, the might and the goodness of the Holy Trinity. And this is what he means where he says, 'You shall see for yourself that all manner of things shall be well', as if he said, 'Pay attention to this now, faithfully and confidently, and at the end of time you will truly see it in the fullness of joy.” 
 Revelations of Divine Love

In February of 2012, the Pope Emeritus, then the active pope, stated this:

“In prayer we must be able to bring before God our fatigue, the suffering of certain situations and of certain days, our daily struggle to follow him and to be Christians, and even the weight of evil we see within us and around us, because he gives us hope, makes us aware of his nearness and gives us a little light on the path of life,” he said.

He also said that Christ in Gethsemane had to face the horror of accepting the punishment of all the sins of the world in order to overcome sin. We, too, get power to overcome sin and even death by accepting great suffering. By overcoming suffering and the anxiety suffering brings, we overcome  the limitations of our own will and become perfected through trials.

“Jesus tells us that only by conforming their will to the divine will can human beings achieve their true stature and become ‘divine.’”

Because of some serious problems in my own life, I have to return to contemplating Divine Providence. One must turn against one's feelings of stress and constriction in the face of troubles and turn to God in humility.

God allows trials and sufferings which are out of our control. Sometimes we cannot understand why such a trial has happened. This is my state at this moment. An odd thing which I did not expect has occurred which is very serious. In order not to succumb to stress or anxiety, I must turn to God in His perfect will and ignore my feelings and fears.

Such is the daily choice I make in trusting in Divine Providence.

Here is a bit of Garrigou-Lagrange on this, from his famous book, which is online. My comments are in blue.


19. Why And In What Matters We Should Abandon Ourselves To Providence

The doctrine of self-abandonment to divine providence is a doctrine obviously founded on the Gospel, but it has been falsely construed by the Quietists, who gave themselves up to a spiritual sloth, more or less renounced the struggle necessary for the attainment of perfection, and seriously depreciated the value and necessity of hope or confidence in God, of which true self-abandonment is a higher form.
But it is possible also to depart from the Gospel teaching on this point in a sense entirely opposite to that of the Quietists with their idle repose, by going to the other extreme of a useless disquiet and agitation.

Many priests in the confessional do not realize that anxiety is actually a sin. It is a lack of trust in God. Agitation cannot be in the soul at peace with God's Holy Will. This practice of the presence of God demands attention.

Now, some anxiety can be a physical, chemical imbalance in the body, but the common anxiety brought on by trials and suffering mostly reveals a giving in to fear and emotional responses to things.

Today, when I was anxious about a situation I do not want to share at this time, I remembered the Scriptures wherein Christ assured us that He was with us always, and would give us the right words to deal with those who hate Him. I, as well as you, Dear Readers, are up against those who hate God.

Here as elsewhere the truth is the culminating point lying between and transcending these two extreme conflicting errors. It behooves us therefore to determine exactly the meaning and import of the true doctrine of self-abandonment to the will of God if we are to be saved from these sophistries, which have no more than a false appearance of Christian perfection.

We shall first see why it is we should practice this self-abandonment to Providence, and then in what matters. After that we shall see what form it should take and what is the attitude of Providence toward those who abandon themselves completely to it.

We shall get our inspiration from the teaching of St. Francis de Sales, [50] Bossuet, [51] Pere Piny, O.P., [52] and Pere de Caussade, S.J. [53]

Why we should abandon ourselves to divine providence

The answer of every Christian will be that the reason lies in the wisdom and goodness of Providence. This is very true; nevertheless, if we are to have a proper understanding of the subject, if we are to avoid the error of the Quietists in renouncing more or less the virtue of hope and the struggle necessary for salvation, if we are to avoid also the other extreme of disquiet, precipitation, and a feverish, fruitless agitation, it is expedient for us to lay down four principles already somewhat accessible to natural reason and clearly set forth in revelation as found in Scripture. These principles underlying the true doctrine of self-abandonment, also bring out the motive inspiring it.
The first of these principles is that everything which comes to pass has been foreseen by God from all eternity, and has been willed or at least permitted by Him.

We have a hard time understanding that God allows, permits suffering. A famous interview of a British actor who reveals hatred of God because He allows children to get diseases reminds us that the atheist does not see God's glory in overcoming suffering. When one is "in suffering", yes, it it difficult to see beyond the edge of the trench and trust in God, but we are called to this trust.

God has permitted me to suffer several set-backs lately, one after another. These sufferings do require attention, but as those who have suffered know, one becomes physically exhausted with intense suffering. But, God has seen this moment of trial in which I find myself, with something completely out of my control from all time. Yes, He has also seen past decisions which may have led to this trial such as moving or even experiencing the sins of others against me. Some of our suffering we cause and some is caused by those who sin in our lives. But, God foresaw all these happenings. He has willed everything which happens for His Glory.

Nothing comes to pass either in the material or in the spiritual world, but God has foreseen it from all eternity; because with Him there ii no passing from ignorance to knowledge as with us, and He has nothing to learn from events as they occur. Not only has God foreseen everything that is happening now or will happen in the future, but whatever reality and goodness there is in these things He has willed; and whatever evil or moral disorder is in them, He has merely permitted. Holy Scripture is explicit on this point, and, as the councils have declared, no room is left for doubt in the matter.

This next point reminds us that God is in charge daily of all small, medium, and large events in our lives. Even if incongruous or mysterious evils occur, God has allowed these for His purposes. This is our faith

The second principle is that nothing can be willed or permitted by God that does not contribute to the end He purposed in creating, which is the manifestation of His goodness and infinite perfections, and the glory of the God-man Jesus Christ, His only Son. As St. Paul says (I Cor. 2: 23), "All are yours. And you are Christ's. And Christ is God's."

In addition to these two principles, there is a third, which St. Paul states thus (Rom. 8:28) : "We know that to them that love God all things work together unto good: to such as, according to His purpose, are called to be saints" and persevere in His love. God sees to it that everything contributes to their spiritual welfare, not only the grace He bestows on them, not only those natural qualities He endows them with, but sickness too, and contradictions and reverses; as St. Augustine tells us, even their very sins, which God only permits in order to lead them on to a truer humility and thereby to a purer love. It was thus He permitted the threefold denial of St. Peter, to make the great Apostle more humble, more mistrustful of self, and by this very means become stronger and trust more in the divine mercy.

The situation which is causing me suffering, a contradiction, a reversal, has been permitted by God to lead me to more humility, (yes, this is a great humiliation), and will, if I cooperate, lead me to trust in God much more than I have. Sometimes, when we have discernment and see the bigger picture of our little suffering, this pain increases our doubts, anxieties and all we can do is make a prayer of trust to God. I have placed one at the bottom of this post.

Frequently, Americans, who are "doers" and not contemplative, think they can fix everything with effort. This is simply not true. Sometimes one must accept keen trials inflicted not by sin, but by the "stuff of life" as one seminarian called this. "Things happen". 

But, Providence demands that we do become like little children trusting Our Father, and this may involve stages of trust. Three weeks ago, I encountered one stage, then, the following week a second, then, the third week brought another, and this week brings another test. Why?

So that I can practice trusting in God in many different types of situations, especially with those who no longer love Him or serve Him. Julian of Norwich wrote:

“He said not 'Thou shalt not be tempested, thou shalt not be travailed, thou shalt not be dis-eased'; but he said, 'Thou shalt not be overcome.” 

Garrigou-Lagrange continues.....

These first three principles may therefore be summed up in this way: Nothing comes to pass but God has foreseen it, willed it or at least permitted it. He wills nothing, permits nothing, unless for the manifestation of His goodness and infinite perfections, for the glory of His Son, and the welfare of those that love Him. In view of these three principles, it is evident that our trust in Providence cannot be too childlike, too steadfast. Indeed, we may go further and say that this trust in Providence should be blind as is our faith, the object of which is those mysteries that are non-evident and unseen (fides est de non visis) for we are certain beforehand that Providence is directing all things infallibly to a good purpose, and we are more convinced of the rectitude of His designs than we are of the best of our own intentions. Therefore, in abandoning ourselves to God, all we have to fear is that our submission will not be wholehearted enough. [54]

Fides est de non visis--living by faith and not by sight may be a challenge for many others than myself. I cannot see the end or even the middle of the trial in which I find myself. I cannot do anything but try and cooperate with the humility this trial brings. To be childlike, I must ask for grace, the grace of complete trust in God.

All I have to fear is what Garrigou-Lagrange states in the last sentence of the last paragraph here. I must fear displeasing God but not trusting Him, a sin which St. Teresa of Avila notes insults God.

God has allowed me to endure, at the end of three weeks, intense suffering which reminds me of the Desert Fathers in their search for humility. They sought the desert to find humility. I have been plunged into the desert.

Like St. Mary of Egypt, I have no protector on this earth but God Himself. He must be my help and my shield.

A prayer of trust:

Psalm 30 Douay-Rheims

30 Unto the end, a psalm for David, in an ecstasy.
In thee, O Lord, have I hoped, let me never be confounded: deliver me in thy justice.
3 Bow down thy ear to me: make haste to deliver me. Be thou unto me a God, a protector, and a house of refuge, to save me.
For thou art my strength and my refuge; and for thy name's sake thou wilt lead me, and nourish me.
Thou wilt bring me out of this snare, which they have hidden for me: for thou art my protector.
6 Into thy hands I commend my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, the God of truth.
Thou hast hated them that regard vanities, to no purpose. But I have hoped in the Lord:
I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy. For thou hast regarded my humility, thou hast saved my soul out of distresses.
9 And thou hast not shut me up in the hands of the enemy: thou hast set my feet in a spacious place.
10 Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am afflicted: my eye is troubled with wrath, my soul, and my belly:
11 For my life is wasted with grief: and my years in sighs. My strength is weakened through poverty and my bones are disturbed.
1I am become a reproach among all my enemies, and very much to my neighbours; and a fear to my acquaintance. They that saw me without fled from me.
13 I am forgotten as one dead from the heart. I am become as a vessel that is destroyed.
14 For I have heard the blame of many that dwell round about. While they assembled together against me, they consulted to take away my life.
15 But I have put my trust in thee, O Lord: I said: Thou art my God.
16 My lots are in thy hands. Deliver me out of the hands of my enemies; and from them that persecute me.
17 Make thy face to shine upon thy servant; save me in thy mercy.
18 Let me not be confounded, O Lord, for I have called upon thee. Let the wicked be ashamed, and be brought down to hell.

19 Let deceitful lips be made dumb. Which speak iniquity against the just, with pride and abuse.
20 O how great is the multitude of thy sweetness, O Lord, which thou hast hidden for them that fear thee! Which thou hast wrought for them that hope in thee, in the sight of the sons of men.
21 Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy face, from the disturbance of men. Thou shalt protect them in thy tabernacle from the contradiction of tongues.
22 Blessed be the Lord, for he hath shewn his wonderful mercy to me in a fortified city.
23 But I said in the excess of my mind: I am cast away from before thy eyes. Therefore thou hast heard the voice of my prayer, when I cried to thee.
24 O love the Lord, all ye his saints: for the Lord will require truth, and will repay them abundantly that act proudly.
25 Do ye manfully, and let your heart be strengthened, all ye that hope in the Lord.

Ten Years Ago

Ten years ago tomorrow, a beautiful young girl disappeared in Aruba. As a mother of a teen at the time, I was riveted by the story for several reasons. Mothers "mother" and allow their children independence in steps. We try and balance safety and common sense with allowing a young person to grow up and make some independent decisions.

Sadly, there are too many predators ready to take advantage of naivete.

Looking back at my upbringing, in a world which has long gone, I remember the amount of freedom we had as kids and teens to learn to judge situations. Prudence is a virtue which can be learned through practice. But, now, most young people are treated like "hot-house" plants because too many parents fall into fear. No doubt, the world is a more dangerous place than 1965, or 1975.

Tragically, there is a long list of missing children, and the horror stories, all true, of pedophilia in England by gangs which groom girls for sex. do mean that a parent has to train children and teens to be careful, avoid "bad places" and no out with people one does not know.

The main suspect is now in prison for twenty-eight years for a murder in Peru. That young woman was killed five years ago today, and exactly five years after the first one disappeared.

I have believed that the lack of male protector-types has led to the increased level of violent crimes against women. I pray that more boys are raised to be protectors rather than predators. Predators must be gross narcissists. They have no moral framework or ethical reference outside their own desires and passions.

Two young women, one dead and one most likely dead, needed protectors on May 30th, 2005 and 2010.

Serious Thoughts

I have written about this before, but a reader today from Down Under wrote with the hope that when the sacraments disappear from the lack of priests, he hopes he is found "on the right side".

Me, too.

I have been pondering for almost four months life without sacraments, as I could not get to daily Mass or weekly confession until recently. This lack of the sacraments could only be endured because I was praying so much during the day, trying to keep at least three monastic hours, doing my three sets of third order prayers, as well as contemplation, rosaries, and Divine Mercy chaplet.

Without the sacraments, almost constant prayer is absolutely needed. Therefore, the Benedictine way of working in the Presence of God becomes essential in a barren land without the usual means of sanctifying grace.

Think on this. How would you react without the sacraments in your area? I pray for perseverance and for courage, for long-suffering, for deep, deep patience, and for peace.

Imagine no daily Mass, no Sunday Mass, no regular must learn to repent immediately of venial sins and break habits now in order to remain in grace, as venial sins weaken the will and lead to mortal sins too often.

Think of no priests in your area, no Adoration, no sermons or meetings of parishioners who may encourage and help you.

One reason for persecution is the purification of the faithful. Many saints came out of the English suppression of the Catholic Faith, but the price to become and to stay holy could be high.

Are you ready for this scenario? Are you willing not to follow the majority who will go after the easy way out and the comfort of compromise?

Please consider these serious thoughts. One must become grounded in the daily discipline of love in order to keep the faith and hope through hard times.

I pray for fortitude and courage. I pray for perseverance and strength. Let us all pray for each other.

The Meaning of the Fig Tree

Many Catholics seem perplexed by today's Gospel reading. The message is relatively simple. We need to be cooperating with grace when things are good and smooth, and when things are difficult and rough.

It is easy to be holy when everything is going "my way". But, when one's will is being crossed and when one is not in a physically comfortable place, the real depth of a person's grace-filled life can be revealed.

Three weeks into chaos, movement, "mess", as the Pope would state, I find that God wants me and others who are truly Christian to be able to respond in love and calmness to any situation.

Turning to God immediately in the mind, making a rational act to cooperate with grace makes one "faithful in little things".  Daily, we are in these situations and one is shown the limitations of holiness in certain situations.

Pettiness seems to be a common sin we can all fall into daily--getting upset about the small things, the very small things, instead of letting go and seeing the big picture. In good times and in stressful times, one must be ready to be loving and always take the humble position.

Mark 11:11-26

11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and came into the temple; and after looking around at everything, He left for Bethany with the twelve, since it was already late.
12 On the next day, when they had left Bethany, He became hungry. 13 Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples were listening.

Jesus Drives Money Changers from the Temple

15 Then they *came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling [a]doves;16 and He would not permit anyone to carry [b]merchandise through the temple.17 And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a robbers’ [c]den.”18 The chief priests and the scribes heard this, and began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching.
19 When evening came, [d]they would go out of the city.
20 As they were passing by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. 21 Being reminded, Peter *said to Him, “Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered.” 22 And Jesus *answered saying to them, Have faith in God. 23 Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. 24 Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you. 25 Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. 26 [[e]But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.”]

Some people ask why this particular fig tree was cursed by Christ and died, especially used by Christ as an example for all of us Catholics to see what would happen to us if we are not producing fruit when God expects us to do so.
Why must we pay attention to this image from the Scriptures? 
Christ demonstrates the justice of God by cursing the fig tree-if it has no fruit, it is already dead. God gives all people sufficient grace for salvation, but He gives efficacious grace freely to those who He has deemed will use this grace.

Here is Garrigou-Lagrange on efficacious grace, which is a bit of a repeat on this blog, but a necessary reminder and timely today.

In the New Testament, too, we find: “Without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Therefore grace is not rendered efficacious through our consent; rather, on the contrary, without the grace of Christ we do not consent to the good conducive to salvation. “My sheep hear My voice . . . and I give them life everlasting and they shall not perish forever, and no man shall pluck them out of My hand. That which My Father hath given Me, is greater than all; and no one can snatch them out of the hand of My Father” (ibid., 10:27-29). That is to say, the souls of the just are in the hand of God, nor can the world with all its temptations nor the demon snatch the elect from the hand of God. Cf. St. Thomas’ commentary on this passage.  It reiterates the words of St. Paul: “Who then shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or distress or famine . . . or the sword?. . . But in all these things we overcome, because of [or through] Him that hath loved us. . . . For I am sure that neither death nor life . . . nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:35-39). St. Thomas comments here that either St. Paul is speaking in the person of the predestinate or, if of himself personally, then it was thanks to a special revelation. Elsewhere St. Paul writes: “Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves: but our sufficiency is from God” (II Cor. 3:5). If we are not sufficient to think anything conducive to salvation of ourselves, with still greater reason is this true of giving our consent, which is primary in the role of salvation. Again, “For the word of God is living and effectual, and more piercing than any two-edged sword; and reaching unto the division of the soul and the spirit, of the joints also and the marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. . . . All things are naked and open to His eyes” (Heb. 4:12 f.). Cf. St. Thomas’ commentary: “The word of God is said to be effectual on account of the very great power and infinite effective force which it possesses. For by it are all things made: ‘By the word of the Lord the heavens were established’ (Ps. 32:6). . . . It effects in the innermost being of things . . . all our works . . . In the order of causes it is to be observed that a prior cause always acts more intimately than a subsequent cause.”

Be grateful daily for the graces which God has given you, even the grace to study and follow blogs. 
God does not ask the impossible. All are given sufficient graces to convert, to accept Him as Saviour. But, God also expects us to use the graces He generously gives to those to whom He has chosen to join Him in heaven.

In Rom. 9:14-16 we read: “What shall we say then? Is there injustice in God? God forbid. For He saith to Moses: I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy; and I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy. So then it is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy” (cf. Exod. 33:19)1 To the Philippians, St. Paul writes: “With fear and trembling work out your salvation. For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to His good will” (2:13); hence the soul should fear sin or separation from God, the author of salvation; cf. St. Thomas’ commentary.