Building Capacity for God
The month of October is dedicated to Mary through the Most Holy Rosary. In a particular way we make extra effort in prayer and in conversation to promote respect for life at all ages and stages from conception until natural death. It is no surprise that the entire month is packed with some of the most powerful saints of all time. Yet as we muddle through our everyday life trying to keep our ‘head above water’, it is easy to think that God wants to work His power through others, not ‘me’.
“You are reaching the age when, with each successive year, you are able to do good. You are coming to that decisive time when you will make of your life one of two things: either, as many people do, something purposeless and vague, without any strong moral discipline, useless and consequently harmful (for neutrality is impossible where it is a question of doing the good); or something beautiful, harmonious and purposeful, sowing good seed on the earth and preparing a rich harvest for eternity. Every person is an incalculable force, bearing within her a little of the future. Until the end of time our words and actions will bear fruit, either good or bad; nothing that we have once given of ourselves is lost, but our words and works, passed on from one to another, will continue to do good or harm to later generations. This is why life is something sacred, and we ought not to pass through it thoughtlessly but to understand its value and use it so that when we have finished our lives, we will have increased the amount of good in the world. “ (Elisabeth Leseur to her goddaughter, The Christian Life of Women)
Although I quit my day job over 20 years ago, I still recall the day-to-day grind of those decades of management in the 20th century. More often now, though, snapshots of various people come to mind. There were some people for whom I could just be present, listen to their life whether it was about work or personal affairs, voice an opinion now and then, mostly learning from them how other people experience living. Also coming to mind, however, will be those people for whom I didn’t take that time. It wasn’t possible, not because I didn’t have the time—if you’re interacting anyway to get the work done, the time is in the moment. But I didn’t have the mental energy to do so. And I didn’t have the mental energy because I didn’t have the spiritual energy. Depending upon myself was limiting. Had I depended upon God, I would have had much greater capacity to listen and take in from the other person’s life world.
How is that capacity built? To be filled with the Holy Spirit, we must first be emptied of the stuff filling up our ‘vessel’. The problem is we become accustomed to our dysfunction. We know ourselves and our life world well, and it is predictable. So although we hate the dysfunction and want change, the predictable nature of our dysfunction lures us to remain solidly footed in it. It becomes comfortable. We hold tightly onto the very things we may wish to be rid of.
These kinds of attachments require really honest conversations with God about what is causing us to stay in it to begin with: the need to be in control, security, lack of trust in God, fear of God the father, etc. To quit hiding from God like Adam and Eve in the woods, it takes the Holy Spirit Gift of Fortitude.
When we can openly say out loud to God the stuff He already knows is in our hearts, a major barrier is broken, and relationship begins. When we stop caring about things that don’t really matter, we have greater capacity to care about those things that do, particularly the people who God has placed in our lives. And we become that ‘incalculable force” that increases the amount of good in the world. 😊
Let us pray, then, for the desire to empty ourselves to grace so as to increase our own capacity for holiness and for the worldwide Church.
We should recall that no man is an island, entire of itself. Our lives are involved with one another, through innumerable interactions they are linked together. No one lives alone. No one sins alone. No one is saved alone…so my prayer for another is not something extraneous to that person, something external, not even after death. In the interconnectedness of being, my gratitude to the other – my prayer for him – can play a small part in his purification. And for that there is no need to convert earthly time into God’s time; in the communion of souls simple terrestrial time is superseded. It is never too late to touch the heart of another, nor is it ever in vain. In this way we further clarify an important element of the Christian concept of hope. Our hope is always essentially hope for others.
(Spe Salvi, Pope Benedict XVI)
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam 😊
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