Wednesday, March 14, 2007

the humble exalted

If we contemplate our misery without raising our eyes to God, the Father of mercies, we will easily become discouraged. By examining ourselves thoroughly, we will see that discouragement always comes from two closely related causes. The first is that we depend upon our own strength; through it our pride is wounded and deceived when we fall. The second is that we lack reliance on God; we do not think of referring to him in times of prosperity, nor do we have recourse to him when we fail him. In short, we act by ourselves: we try to succeed alone, we fall alone, and alone we contemplate our fall. The result of such conduct can only be discouragement. Indeed, how could we expect to find in ourselves the strength to rise again, when it was our very want of strength that made us fall? God does not want us to act by ourselves. "Woe to him that is alone," says Sacred Scripture, "for when he falleth, he hath none to lift him up" (Eccl 4:10). Woe to him who relies only on his own strength to put his good resolutions into execution. When he falls, he will not have the aid of God's might to lift him up; thus he will remain in his misery, confused and discouraged.

Just as we should not make good resolutions without counting on God's help to keep them, by the same token we should not view our failures without considering God's mercy at the same time, for as God is the only one who can help us persevere in good, so he alone can raise us up from evil.

That is why all the saints have taught that the knowledge of oneself must never be separated from the knowledge of God and vice versa. Saint Teresa of Jesus says, "The soul must sometimes emerge from self-knowledge and soar aloft in meditation upon the greatness and the majesty of its God. Doing this will help it to realize its own baseness better than thinking of its own nature, and it will be freer from the reptiles which enter the first rooms, that is, the rooms of self-knowledge."

-- Father Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.
(Magnificat March 2007, "Meditation of the Day" for Tue March 6, 2007)


Amy M said... so true. Great post :-)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your very fine writing. Though I must say - everything in this life is a struggle and often times there is no one to stretch out a helping hand (for many reasons). That means that God is the only "person" one can turn to. As you know, God doesn't usually respond very quickly - this is very painful. Sometimes it may be that he doesn't respond at all. It's a hard journey - it may be easier for some than others (another painful mystery). I think quite frankly, it is the ordinary person, the faithful who is out there in the world trying to survive that needs the church the most. However, the "church" is often filled with a lot of other activity, and rectories that are closed. So the people who are hurting most are often never found in church. They are the ones who are "disabled", "very ill," "homeless, etc..." I argue that these very people are often forgotten by the church which has ultimately become an "institution." How many catholic church doors do I see locked throughout the week. So many it would make any believer weep. Most Catholic Church's (not all) open their doors a short time before mass and then lock them up. Only the catholic church's located in historic locations are open because tourists stroll the streets - it's a very painful situation. All week people who long to pray in a church, seek some quiet or maybe just another believer to talk to are alienated. Then sunday rolls along and suddenly all the people who have money, jobs, homes (again not everyone, some are poor and ill) show up for mass and then head out the door to their cars. Some have friends and talk and help eachother, but it's almost a closed society. The faithful deserve to have all catholic church doors open all through the day and week. It's what they work for and have worked for through the centuries. It was their toil that built the churches. This would be one way you, as a priest, could help make Christ more available, so people can actually pray and meditate. This would activate your beliefs which you wrote in your blog.
In the end, the only thing we (the faithful and ordinary working folk, and those working the fields) can do is pray, pray, and pray.