Devotional Thought of the Day:
6 I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6 (NAB)
78 You don’t feel like doing anything and there is nothing you look forward to. It is like a dark cloud. Showers of sadness fell, and you experienced a strong sensation of being hemmed in. And, to crown it all, a despondency set in, which grew out of a more or less objective fact: you have been struggling for so many years…, and you are still so far behind, so far. All this is necessary, and God has things in hand. To attain gaudium cum pace—true peace and joy—we have to add to the conviction of our divine filiation, which fills us with optimism, the acknowledgement of our own personal weakness.
There are days like yesterday when I feel like my faith, which took two steps forward the day before, takes three or four steps back.
Sometimes this is caused by my own sin, sometimes by the sins I have to help people find redemption from, sometimes from sin I see or hear about, but am not in the position to help people with, (and sometimes I do not want to) and sometimes it is something that just challenges my faith, like my 46 year battle with my health. Some days are a perfect storm of all of the above, and I struggle to see God,
Sometimes, I do not want to.
My bet is that I am not alone
I think we all have those dark nights of the soul, those moments where we aren’t certain about God helping us, caring about us. We are so overwhelmed, so broken that we doubt his existence, if we bother to think about Him at all.
These are difficult days, it takes an enormous effort to think of God, to not run to something else to console or comfort or distract from the despair.
St. Josemaria talks of adding to the conviction of divine filiation, to put it in our terms, our dependence on God’s love for us, and loving Him in return. I am not going to say this is easy, for it requires us to look away from what is troubling us, and hear His voice, hear his promises, to know they are true. It’s not about our personal strength growing, but our dependence and awareness of His strength, His faithfulness. To see them as a measure of His love, His care, His work. The way we add to our conviction of His love is to hear it, and experience it through His word, through prayer, through the Sacraments. For all point to that day Paul tells the church in Ephesus is coming, the day when all is finished, all is complete.
A work that will be completed, a work that will be finished, a work that draws us into Him, into His eternity. This is our hope, this is our faith, in a God that comes to us, that we might come to Him. AMEN
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 547-552). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
18 You are to open their eyes and turn them from the darkness to the light and from the power of Satan to God, so that through their faith in me they will have their sins forgiven and receive their place among God’s chosen people.’ Acts 26:18 (TEV)
182 Be filled with wonder at God’s goodness, because Christ wants to live in you. Be filled with wonder also when you are aware of all the weight of your poor wretchedness, of this poor flesh, of all the vileness of this poor clay. Yes, but then remember too that call from God: Jesus Christ, who is God and Man, understands me and looks after me, for he is my Brother and my Friend.
A lot of my thoughts these days seem to be about the Church, especially as I see it enduring an ebb tide, as the everything seems to be receding. From church attendance (especially in the USA and Europe ) to the number of men preparing for ministry as pastors, to numbers of other church workers, to the money which we think makes this all possible.
I also think about it because I get so many different “solutions” offered to me, or advice. I hate to say it, but most of it is treated with the same attitude I have towards used toilet paper. It’s not about the technology we use or the organ that we cherish. It is not the philosophy that will address the issues of only one generation. It’s not about planting new churches that are buying into the fact that they will be irrelevant in one generation ( that’s the justification in planting them – only significant growth happens in churches 25 years old or less – at least that is what we are told! ) It is not about keeping our doctrine and practice as pure as it was 50 years ago, or even 500.
Real growth, from maturity to conversion is the result of revelation. It is found in the awe of knowing this paradox, that those who are evil, vile, depraved, wretched, trapped by sin, its shame, its anger, and resentment; that these same people are understood by God, saved, found to be righteous, and made HOLY. They are made God’s children, HIs family, HIs people, are counted as Jesus’ siblings and are called by Him, friend, and beloved.
It is hearing this revealed that a light shatters the darkness, it is more shocking than getting in your car after having lent it to a teenager and not checking the stereo volume before turning the key. This is so shocking it is like a prisoner, kept in jail for 25 years, being let out, or the patient who was told they were dying being healed.
The shock of the Revelation, of the greatest Apocalypse ever, to know that God understands me, knows my weaknesses, knows my rebellion and brokenness and still loves me. Jesus names means it all – God Saves. His title Immanuel echoes it – He is God with US. More intimately, more completely that even the apostles knew before the cross.
Despite my sin, despite yours, He came to us. He cleanses us, He redeems us, He justifies and sanctifies us, not as a theological exercise, but as reality.
This is the Revelation we need, it gives hope to the Church, as it creates and recreates life in Her. It gives the meaning to her sacraments, to her work, to her worship and praise. It gives the churches hope, for as God is transforming the CHurhc – this Revelation calls men to shepherd, people to serve. And to each of us, it gives the most incredible of hopes, the greatest expectation, we walk with Him, from now through eternity.
Share this hope, reveal the depth and height, the width and breadth of Christ’s love for those around you to them, and be astounded as it becomes more that the hope it of your love. For His presence will be the focus of your life.
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 840-843). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.