Kitchen Catechism: Words of Wisdom
Everything in God's good time.
In past writings, I have told you how it's my heart's desire to 'pass on the faith'. I think of so many issues or topics I would like to discuss with you - confusion from translations, revisionist history, relativism and many more. The thoughts constantly pass through my mind and I become very frustrated as I stay at my husband's side attending to his medical needs. Then all of a sudden a light goes on, and I realize if God wanted me to be doing that, at this time, it would all work out in a most comfortable manner and He would provide me with all the time and circumstances I could ever need. Obviously, He wants me to stay right where I am now and do the best job I can of caring for my husband. A peace passes over me, and I think, it's just like the old saying goes: "Everything in God's good time". Everything in God's good time means accepting God's will. Accepting God's will is a basic concept of the 'Twelve Step Programs' which have proven so successful in self-help situations for people with life problems, especially addictions, and most especially alcohol where it originated. Members are encouraged to say and live by the Serenity prayer of St. Francis. " God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I can not change; the Courage to change the things I can; and the Wisdom to know the difference."
When I was young, I found it very hard to understand how I could just accept God's will. Maybe, that was because I thought accepting God's will was accepting very difficult situations happening in life - like accepting the death of someone young that was close to you. It never dawned on me that the good things that happened could also be God's will.
Then one night I had a very different, spiritual experience. I got a phone call and was told that my daughter was in an emergency room in a very critical state. I started to pray that Susie wouldn't die. Then I heard the voice of God. He said I must obey His will. I argued with Him, and said no, I would pray to the Blessed Mother who had always answered my prayers. I just couldn't let my Susie die. He insisted I must obey His will, and He wore me down till I said, alright, I will accept Your will. Then He said, "Susie is not going to die but from now on you must obey My will." I was elated to hear that good news, and from that moment I started down a different path in my life that has led me to where I am today.
I had no doubt it was God's voice I heard. It was strong and clear and reeked of authority. He didn't say I must accept His will, as I had always heard the concept expressed - no, He made it much stronger saying I must obey His will. Until that time I was a very skeptical person and never gave any credence to talk I heard from people in the Charismatic Movement about God communicating with them. I dismissed them as 'crazies'. But now I'm a believer, even though He hasn't spoken to me since that September 14th night in 1978. His voice still rings distinct in my memory.
The truth of how important God's will is for us to understand can become clear when we realize Jesus taught it to His apostles. The beliefs we must incorporate into our faith, as taught to the apostles by Jesus, are recorded in the Lord's Prayer. And there it says: "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven".
The bridge from God's will to our own will is important to understand. Each of us is created in God's image and likeness but with 'like a fog' surrounding our intellect. So, we are gifted with a totally free will, and free to choose whatever we want but remember -we have not been gifted with the Divine Intellect and are not all powerful and omnipotent as is God. That's where we humans get into a lot of trouble when we, as the saying goes, 'try to play God'. Even the archangel Lucifer, who was more enlightened than humans, reached his downfall by thinking he could assume the power of God. Adam and Eve were tripped up by the same scam when Lucifer - Satan - convinced them they could be as powerful as God. That was the 'original sin' wanting power and wanting to be the one who makes the rules. Don't fall into that trap, lusting after power - wanting to make the rules - always remember who you are and who God is. Young people have told me 'money is power, whoever has the money has the power' but God has told us 'money is the root of all evil'. So keep your priorities straight and understand the use of money but above all understand God.
I have related all these profound truths to you in a very 'folksy' manner, but I don't want you to be 'shortchanged', so I am going to quote to you from an article I read in the June, 2002 issue of Crisis magazine, "The Way of Conversion", written by Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, a very smart lady. Two of the conversions she writes of are St. Paul's and St. Augustine's. We will focus on St. Augustine's because there is a lot of discussion of the 'will', and great quotes from his autobiography, Confessions.
St. Augustine is a wonderfully, colorful saint whose life story rivals that of St. Francis of Assisi. He lived a wild, robust youth, in the fourth century, interested only in 'fun and games'. Was renowned for his giant intellect and highly respected even in his own time, and with his conversion, he goes down in history as one of the greatest minds of the Catholic world. St. Francis, revered for his childlike simplicity and love of animals, is more popular in our culture than St. Augustine but as Hollywood tells us 'no one can compete with kids and animals'.
Following is the material from Crisis magazine I found interesting relating to the 'will':
The core of conversion lies in the certainty of being chosen-what nonbelievers would see as the certainty of choice-of having been touched by the grace of the Holy Spirit. But however strong and sustaining that certainty and however deep and lasting the joy of that first reception of the Eucharist, the convert is also embarking on a lifetime of continuing education and struggle-and all the more if, as seems so often to be the case, the convert is an intellectual. The conversion of St. Augustine differs markedly from that of St. Paul, yet ranks as no less exemplary and may well speak more directly to the condition of modern converts. St. Augustine came to intellectual certainty about the truth of Christianity before he embraced it in faith. "What I now longed for," he wrote in his Confessions, "was not greater certainty about you, but a more steadfast abiding in you." The obstacles lay not in his mind but in his heart, "which needed to be cleansed of the old leaven. I was attracted to the Way, which is our Savior himself, but the narrowness of the path daunted me and I still could not walk in it."
St. Augustine depicts himself as enchained by the obstacles to his wholehearted conversion, specifically his lustful habits and his enslavement to the lure of the flesh. The real obstacle, however, lay not so much in the flesh per se as in the wrongheaded will that bound him to it: "For it was no iron chain imposed by anyone else that fettered me, but the iron of my own will."
Not content with the easy explanation that indulgence in lust results from being driven or possessed by natural instincts, St. Augustine insists that "disordered lust springs from a perverted will; when lust is pandered to, a habit is formed; when habit is not checked, it hardens into compulsion." St. Augustine understands that what he calls the chain that bound him was formed from the interlocking rings of obeisance to disordered lust. He could not profit from his delight in the law of Christ "when a different law in my bodily members was warring against the law of my mind, imprisoning me under the law of sin which held sway in my lower self. For the law of sin is that brute force of habit whereby the mind is dragged along and held fast against its will, and deservedly so because it slipped into habit willingly."
Repeatedly, St. Augustine returns to the role of the will in conversion, gradually coming to understand that his own difficulties derive not from two wills but from a will divided against itself. "When I was making up my mind to serve the Lord my God at last, as I had long since purposed, I was the one who wanted to follow that course, and I was the one who wanted not to. I was the only one involved. I neither wanted it wholeheartedly nor turned from it wholeheartedly. I was at odds with myself and fragmenting myself," Augustine writes in the Confessions. His certainty in this regard assuredly ……………testifies to his growing understanding of the challenge of entering into a binding covenant with God. Pondering upon the challenge, St. Augustine turns to the metaphor of the journey--a journey-"not to be undertaken by ship or carriage or on foot…for to travel-and more, to reach journey's end-was nothing else but to want to go there, but to want it valiantly and with all my heart, not to whirl and toss this way and that a will half crippled by the struggle, as part of it rose up to walk while part sank down."
St. Augustine's account of his conversion remains surprisingly fresh and compelling in large part because his concerns and struggles resonate so strikingly with the challenges to Christians in our own time. The pleasures of the flesh and worldly ambitions that pulled St. Augustine away from a wholehearted commitment to follow Christ exercise as great-if not greater-a sway in our own day as in his. Augustine was living through the fall of the Roman Empire, powerfully chronicled in his The City of God.
St. Therese of Lisieux - The Little Flower also spoke of the will in this context: So it is in the world of souls, Jesus' garden.
He willed to create great souls comparable to lilies and roses, but He also created smaller ones and these must be content to be daisies or violets destined to give joy to God's glances when He looks down at His feet. Perfection consists in doing His will, in being what He wills us to be.
You may ask, "How can I know God's will for me?" First and foremost God's will is contained in His Commandments - written in stone but you must write them on your heart. God's will is also contained in the Magisterium of the Church, and you must use these authentic Catholic teachings as guidelines.
Everyday I, personally, struggle along the narrow path, and everyday I experience small failures, but everyday, I also experience small successes.
Come, tread the path with me. Follow the way of the Lord, and I feel confident, eventually, our small success's will triumph, and all heaven will rejoice, and on earth there will be peace and happiness.