September 29 is the feast of the Archangels Sts. Michael, Gabriel and Rafael. Then October 2 is the feast of our Guardian Angels. We are always surrounded by the angels, yet often feel that we are abandoned with no help in sight. Take heart with the example of St. Frances of Rome (1384-1440)! Although she wanted to be a nun as a young girl, she married at age 12 and lived out her vocation through her relationship with God with prayer. She watched 2 of her 3 children die and had to live with the prophetic knowledge of her daughter’s impending death. Just as we are called to do, she remained obedient to the magisterium in spite of great tribulation in the church and world. Without her faith, she might have become a bitter woman lashing out about the Pope and in continual need of shopping therapy. Instead, she joyfully set up a hospital in her home and purposefully sought out the most sickly people of Rome.
Nowadays there is much made of discerning spirits and discerning God’s will (which are two different things), and opinions abound on the Internet. Discernment isn’t as much a matter of sitting in prayer waiting for a lightning bolt of wisdom to come. That too often is a psychological consolation. Real discernment is the product of honest conversation with God.
Honesty is the tough part. It seems easier to rationalize our seemingly ‘good’ choice, and the conversation with God can become a series of “I” statements. We forget that Jesus isn’t in the “I” statements and God’s will doesn’t need rationalization.
The word endurance is used throughout the New Testament, particularly by St. Paul. It is a differentiating feature of Christians. Yet if I were to examen my day at this very moment, how much of it has been consumed by fear? In what ways is fear driving my decisions, emotions, perspective and relationships? How is fear beginning to alter my understanding of my faith?
Within the American church, we seem to be caught up in a game of spiritual whack-a-mole. In the arcade game, the player bludgeons each mole with a sledgehammer as he pops up his head from the ground. The more moles hit, the more moles surface and at an increasing rate of speed.
In the spiritual life, what doesn’t happen is as important to notice as that which does take place. Silence is its own type of ‘whack’ and perhaps a more deadly one. Let us follow the example of St. John Paul II in a transformation of conscience. As he told the Polish people: look around you. You are not alone.
Grandparents day is September 13. This year, too many of our loved ones are in lockdown within their retirement communities. Many times, President Trump has voiced his sincere concern for the depression people have suffered under lockdown, particularly by our elders. Unfortunately, the dignity and needs of the elderly is being ignored by the media and their wisdom is only captured when it promotes the goals of social engineering.
Meanwhile, the lived experience of the American people is a multi-generational dynamic. Older family members begin the process of aging, dementia and Alzheimer’s while their spouses and adult children grasp to make sense of this changing inter-relational dynamic.
A look into aging, aided by the wisdom of the saints.