“God is in the details.”
I’ve been blessed over the past 69 years in ways it would take volumes to list the innumerable times God has been good to me. One of God’s many benefactions is that I’m rarely depressed; however a month ago I fell into one of those rare moods when depression struck. One snowy bitterly cold afternoon when transferring busses coming from the hospital I slipped and nearly fell while climbing over a snow bank. As I was tottering trying desperately not to fall I looked up and noticed helping hands of persons of every description vying to prevent me from falling. I didn’t fall; thanks to my helpers for their on the spot generosity. They could have easily let me fall and walked away; after all they didn’t know me or I them; but they didn’t. They helped me right myself.
As I waited for my bus I struck up a conversation with a lady; another stranger. I poured out my sorrows. I was angry! I was angry at being old. Reader prior to my loss of mobility I was a very active person; world traveler, deep sea swimmer, passed diving school, climbed a few small mountains, private pilot training; you name it I did it. I was angry at myself for not being able to do those daring things I used to do. We shared our life stories.
The cold became unbearable. The woman hailed a cab and offered me a ride to my home. I politely declined. We waved our goodbyes. My bus arrived minutes later. I shared the ride with another woman who lived in our building. This lady and I were never on good terms until that day; now we talk regularly. It was during that brief moment that God visibly stepped into my life through others. I was down but lifted up by complete strangers. I learned my bad habit of judging others to my perfectionist standards is contrary to the Gospel. The saying God is in the little things became more than a well worn cliché. With my wife back home in the Philippines on a four month holiday, me alone with television service suspended I have a golden opportunity to develop spiritually.
Fast from judging others; feast on Christ dwelling in them
Fast from emphasis of differences; feast on the unity of all life
Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of the light
Sin is a spiritual virus. Just when you think a particular sin or fault is cured the virus mutates into something stronger and harder to cure. Think: Luke 11:24-26 (ISV) “Whenever an unclean spirit goes out of a person, it wanders through waterless places looking for a place to rest but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will go back to my home that I left.’ When it arrives, it finds it empty, swept clean, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself and they go in and settle there. And so the final condition of that person becomes worse than the first.”
Reader every year during Lent I’ve been urging you to take time out from your busy life to make a spiritual retreat. Whatever faith you profess I can’t emphasize the value of quiet time with God. It doesn’t have to be made at any specific time during any given year though I found Lent ideal to reset your spiritual clock to prioritize your life. Lent’s the time to set new goals; if necessary redirect your life to be more in tune with God’s plan for you.
Rev. Lawrence Jagdfed, O.F.M. (Cenacle-St. Peter’s Downtown) our retreat master’s first talk centered on the artificial construct we call Time. He said that time for all practical purposes doesn’t exist; that we should dwell in the present and that God is immeasurable. This reasoning coincides with a recent scientific TV program I saw over the ‘History Channel’ if I remember correctly. The popular science program show host stated that scientists don’t deny the existence of God but view the traditional religionist’s concept of the Deity too small to be taken seriously. God is infinitely ‘bigger’ than we can ever imagine; the traditional religionist view of God is too confining.
Our retreat master cited ‘Lord’s Prayer’ as God’s key to us; it’s the perfect prayer since it contains all essentials needed to communicate with God as well as attain Salvation; that fasting, praying and good works (Ora et Labora) must accompany prayer to be effective. He stressed that we shouldn’t dwell on past sins that God has forgiven and forgotten as should we. For some, this is easier said than done. Our lack of self-forgiveness keeps therapists in business. If we learn to let go and let God in we achieve true peace of soul which impacts our bodily, mental health and spiritual health; live the present moment.
Fast from thoughts of illness; feast on the healing power of God
Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify
Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude
All major disciplines require technical expertise; religion is no exception. Bible writers employed a variety of techniques to draw in readers to focus on certain items. Father spoke about God being with us in time and eternity, never brag about good works, quality of prayer being spiritually advantageous as opposed to a multiplicity of words and that acts of service are preferable to ‘giving up stuff’ for Lent. However he stressed that any penance practiced during Lent should evolve into lifelong habits. Point—I gave up smoking one Lent which led me to quit.
Fr. Lawrence clarified our traditional belief of Purgatory being a place. Purgatory is a condition; an experience of God purging our negative qualities to prepare us for our eternal union with the Beatific Vision.
Fast from anger; feast on patience
Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism
Fast from worry; feast on God’s providence
Nothing kills like procrastination. Having a manana attitude has impoverished and damned countless numbers. Reader I remember going through a catalogue of gag T-shirts manufactured by a west coast Evangelical society that had spiritual logos. I remember one shirt that urged people to repent of their sins immediately and not on their death beds. The logo read ‘Many people have died and went to Hell at 10:30 instead of at the 11th hour.’ “I tell you now is the time of God’s favor now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2 NIV).
Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation
Fast from negativity; feast on the positive side of things
Fast from unrelenting pressure; feast on unceasing prayer
I had the privilege of doing the reading (Isaiah 58:9-14) at our Saturday afternoon Liturgy. The first reading discussed the Theology of Reciprocity. It was Father’s assessment of Christian reality that set the tone for his homily. Bad things do happen to good people and there’s noting we can do about it. God is in total control and loves us. We can’t earn Salvation; its’ free but we have to demonstrate active interest. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
-To be Continued.-