by Fr. Daniel Considine, 1950’s
The Heavenly Vision
Let us examine our own experience of God’s dealings with us in the past. We find bad habits of temper or uncharitableness or worse things installed within us. Turn back upon them the lamp of memory steadily, widely, so as to bring into view all attendant circumstances and light up God’s admonitions and inspirations as well as our own perversity.
Try to recollect how often the voice of conscience has striven to make itself heard, in gentle whispers first of all and then in loud remonstrance or remorse, until quelled at last it has seemed to die in sobs or in murmurs far away.
How many fires of noble purpose have been lit in our souls by stirring words or great examples, or suddenly, in the strangest fashion in most unexpected places or at most unlikely times by the Holy Spirit, who alone can touch the inmost heart, and afterwards have burnt low and then to ashes because you would take no pains to feed them!
St Paul says he was not disobedient to the heavenly vision. We indeed have no claim to such a wonder as wrought his conversion, but I believe that glimpses of the Unseen, and high impulses and yearnings for better things, not the work of imagination but of the God “in whom we live and move and have our being”, are not so uncommon as is often fancied in these days of ours, perhaps because there are so many lying spirits abroad just now trying to deceive us.
The Lord is not a hard man, but in the words of the prophet Joel, “gracious and merciful, patient and rich in mercy, and ready to repent of the evil”. Believe Him to be gentle, kind, generous, and compassionate beyond the tenderness of the most devoted mother, and you will find your anticipations fall infinitely short of the truth.
The one thing that He cannot bear is that you should mistrust His love.
My Day’s Journey
In what thoughts can I find inspiration and comfort at the beginning of each day? In God with us and therefore we with God. My day’s march has been carefully mapped out for me, “before Abraham was made”, in the Divine counsels, its windings allowed for, the ambushes of my enemies forestalled.
I may be quite assured against surprises or superior force, if only I leave myself unhesitatingly in the hands of God. And then what a fine thing it is, enough to stir one’s pulses at a suitable time and place, but true even when one is not in an enthusiastic mood, to know that the feeblest of us has a bit to do, a work to accomplish, under a commission, not signed by earthly emperor or king, but from the Sovereign of Heaven itself!
Further, every weary pace I count, if it so be that the way is long or tedious, is taken under the eyes of Him for whose sake I have begun the march and who will at its end give me a rich reward.
I can make for myself a Friend who will accompany me through my day, step by step, who can and will, if I do not fail Him, always guide me, always uphold me, in whom I can trust unreservedly, and who is so generous that while He has no need of me and I have every need of Him, He actually regards my leaning upon Him as a favor done by me to Him and is most anxious to reward me for obeying what is not only my duty but the dictates of my own interest and advantage.
To halt for a few seconds or minutes clear the head. Why should not the thoughts during my day’s work be only to rest in the thoughts of God, His goodness, our need of His assistance, or our fervent wishes for the welfare of those dear to us, and therefore our supplications for them to the throne of grace, be suitable at such times?
No painful effort, no strain would be needed or desirable. If after a little practice we were to find the attempt a strain, would not this alone prove to us how much we have yet to learn about the proper method of intercourse with God – how stiff and formal, inelastic and cold our own way is, so unlike the conversation of a child with his Father and therefore so unlike the model of prayer taught us by Our Lord Himself.
God is always at our elbow, God is always in our heart, God encompasses us on every side. He reads all our thoughts, He intimately knows every aspiration, every fear, every hope of our soul – He understands us without any need of our explanation, He can supply the answer to the problems which perplex ourselves.
Why do we not consult Him more, open our hearts to His love, lean on Him in our weakness, implore His succor in our wants? He has not shrunk from abasing Himself to earth in order to share my human toils and troubles and trials; and shall I refuse His Company, as far as I can, and deny my confidences and reject His Friendship?
If He loves to be with me, my answer must be, that I, above all, desire to love to be with Him.
“Lord, You know my weakness; every morning I make a resolution to practice humility, and every evening I acknowledge that I still have many failures. I am tempted to be discouraged by this, but I know that discouragement also has its source in pride. That is why I prefer to put my trust in You alone, O my God. Since You are all-powerful, deign to create in my soul the virtue for which I long”. – St. Therese of the Child Jesus
Lent teaches us to love God and our neighbor more than our selves… to love our souls more than our bodies… to love our crosses. In a word, Lent helps us put charity in order and with charity… our wills… our hearts are perfected and made ready to reach the summit of the climb… Calvary.
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