Friday, 6 December 2013
I am more and more impressed by the old Blessed John Paul II than the young.
Many Catholics love him and remember him in his prime, bringing about the fall of communism in Poland, and inspiring thousands of young men to become priests.
But, the Blessed John Paul II who appeals to me is the one who endured such suffering towards the end of his long papacy.
The press was not kind to Blessed John Paul II in his last illness. The main-stream-media did not understand the great mystery of illness and pain which God was allowing His servant to suffer.
We are faced with such pain, old age, infirmity, daily. The truth is that God allows this decay for His reasons. One reason is just that such is the result of Original Sin.
One of my friend's mother died after a very short, intense bout with Alzheimer's Disease. The mother died so fast, everyone was surprised. But, the woman had led a saintly life. Those who think about her life now understand that God took her quickly and almost painlessly. That was her way.
But, Blessed John Paul II followed God's Will in weakness, not in strength at the end.
Pray to him for all those who are experiencing such pain and suffering. He may well be the patron saint of the old.
Labels: saints and martyrs
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, I was told recently, told a priest that she never had clarity about her life. She just went day to day, working, praying, living in darkness as to God's Perfect Will.
She had rare moments of consolation.
Each saint experiences God differently, as each person is created uniquely. We cannot and should not judge how God works in the lives of those around us.
What may seem like something worldly may be the Perfect Will of God in someone's life.
To discern God's Will is part of our journey to perfection. If God withholds clarity, that is His Plan and one must humbly accept such a state. If one can only see the day presented today and nothing else, rejoice in that Plan.
Some people find their vocation and God's Will as young people. Some struggle in long years of searching for God's Perfect Will. Some people actually run away from God's Plan. St. Benedict Labre failed at everything he did. He is a great saint of humility and peace.
God's Will does not change, but He can will change in our lives, states Thomas Aquinas. But, all that God wills is good. There is an additional mystery that all things which happen to us are in the Will of God-even suffering and trials.
Here is a snippet from Thomas Aquinas: Thus in the case of the raising of Lazarus, one who looked only on inferior causes might have said: "Lazarus will not rise again," but looking at the divine first cause might have said: "Lazarus will rise again." And God wills both: that is, that in the order of the inferior cause a thing shall happen; but that in the order of the higher cause it shall not happen; or He may will conversely. We may say, then, that God sometimes declares that a thing shall happen according as it falls under the order of inferior causes, as of nature, or merit, which yet does not happen as not being in the designs of the divine and higher cause. Thus He foretold to Ezechias: "Take order with thy house, for thou shalt die, and not live" (Is. 38:1). Yet this did not take place, since from eternity it was otherwise disposed in the divine knowledge and will, which is unchangeable. Hence Gregory says (Moral. xvi, 5): "The sentence of God changes, but not His counsel"---that is to say, the counsel of His will. When therefore He says, "I also will repent," His words must be understood metaphorically. For men seem to repent, when they do not fulfill what they have threatened.
This is a mystery not accepted by most of the world, which rejects the value of suffering. God's Will may include tremendous suffering. St. Faustina suffered the ill treatment of nuns in her own house. St. Padre Pio suffered the ill treatment of men in his own house. St. Louis de Montfort met obstacle after obstacle on his path to perfection.
Many times, it is those in the Church, even other good people, who provide the suffering in one's life.
Such was the case for St. Damian of Molokai, who was stymied in his work by his own bishop. He was accused of pride and arrogance. The saint kept going on with the vision God had given Him
The vision or vocation of one saint is not the same as that of another. There is no such thing as a cookie-cutter saint.
If Catholics stand back and judge other Catholics by outward signs of success or even successful holiness, this type of attitude is not of God. God works in so many different ways.
I am learning that a friend of mine has become holy because of a divorce. She has become holy because of great suffering which has left her alone. Some people in her life criticize her. I see the re-birth of a beautiful soul.
Can one imagine the type of judgments Blessed Teresa of Calcutta endured? She was criticized for taking money when she received the Nobel Peace Prize. She was criticized for not working for political changes, or setting up hospitals, but only tending to the dying. She was criticized for having a ministry which gave dignity to death and suffering instead of taking it away.
Blessed Mother Teresa was criticized for having long periods of doubt and darkness, of not being on top of financial issues, of fraternizing with less than holy men and women for the sake of her missionaries.
There are over 5,000 sisters in her order in the world today. Her story is one of courage and persistence.
Do not judge anyone. Do not suppose you understand someone's spiritual life because of your own. Do not judge the suffering of another.
And, most of all, as warned by Father Ripperger, be suspicious of psychological explanations which may undermine the path to perfection. Psychology is limited. Those who were keen on psychology criticized both Blessed Teresa and Blessed John Paul II. They would only want to see wholeness rather than holiness. These are not the same thing. God may allow a person not to be what the world would call "whole" for the greater Glory of His Name. God may allow a person deep suffering for a reason. Blessed John Paul II was not physically whole at the end of his papacy. Yet, in that long illness, he was being made holy.
The world does not understand that mystery of suffering.
In the Dark Night, the soul and God move from brokenness to a deeper brokenness, that of the breaking of the ego.
The worldling does not understand suffering and purgation. To become a blessed was a hard road for Teresa of Calcutta. Perhaps that is her message for us today. Persevere totally in Faith. Keep going. Do not give up.
Rejoice in the suffering, somehow,as God is in both the overall picture and in the details.
Christ was abandoned by all His best friends but young John. Why? One simple reason--that His friends did not want to share in His Suffering. They ran away rather than suffer with Someone Who loved them. They ran away rather than enduring the pain of failure and rejection.
They ran away out of fear.
They did not want to stand up with He Who took on sin. Sometimes, we have to stand up with sinners; we are sinners as well. Only the falsely perfect reject the sinner. Guess what? I am a sinner and all my friends are sinners. But, we love each other through and even out of the sin.
Love and forgive, forgive and love-and be willing to suffer on your own and with others.
Do not be afraid. And, if, like my friend, who is so far away facing divorce, you find yourself suffering alone, know that you are being called to Calvary.
Blessed Teresa said this: “If someone criticizes you, first ask yourself, is it right? If he is right, apologize and change, and the issue is resolved. If he is not right, clarify and correct, but if that does not work, take up the unjust accusations with both hands and offer it to Jesus in union with his suffering, because he was slandered by all sides.”
In her case, such judgments were God's Plan for her sanctification. God works in the spiritual realm, and most people in the world do not understand what that means.
To be continued....
Between 56 and 57 percent of the 18- to-29-year-old respondents didn't approve of the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare (depending on how the question was asked); 40 to 44 percent thought their quality of care would get worse under the new law; and 50 to 51 percent said they expected costs to increase. More below...
|On the Road to Emmaus|
In the days to come, shortly, chaos in the financial and other sectors of life will cause great confusion among people. Those who are preparing themselves for the afterlife, for eternity, will be able to meet these challenges. Those who are focused on this world will be horribly shaken, as those common cultural elements upon which they rely will horribly change and disappear.
Those who pray and reflect will be able to help others who will panic. Panic happens when one is unprepared.
There is in America a lack of seriousness among many Catholics. The idea that things in the culture will just continue as these have for decades seems to be a false security for many. Our only security is in God.
One of the ideals lost after Vatican II, but not necessarily caused by that council, was the teaching of the immediacy that one has to work for one's salvation in fear and trembling. This ideal was undermined by the false teaching that Catholics are already saints as well as the minimization of the seriousness of sin.
Too many people are not even thinking of their own salvation, but assuming it will happen.
Salvation is not a once and for all decision. It just does not happen. St. Paul knew this and warned us.
12 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but much more now in my absence,) with fear and trembling work out your salvation.
The disciples on the Way to Emmaus were confused. Christ met them, explaining the Scriptures, the Law, the Prophets to them.
This is what we must do now.