God, Lent and Yorkie butts
“When comes the evening of life, I shall stand before Thee with empty hands, because I do not ask Thee, My God, to take account of my works. All our works of justice are blemished in Thine Eyes. I wish therefore to be robed with Thine own Justice, and to receive from Thy Love the everlasting gift of Thyself. I desire no other Throne, no other Crown but Thee, O my Beloved? In Thy sight time is naught—“one day is a thousand years.”2 Thou canst in a single instant prepare me to appear before Thee.” (St. Terese of Lisieux, An Act Of Oblation As A Victim Of Divine Love) [i]
For 16 years I was blessed with Blossom, our five-pound Yorkshire Terrier who lived a long life courageously commanding all other animals in her queendom (or so she thought!). Yorkies don’t like to be separated from their humans as they think they are one of us. So, for most of her life, if Blossom could see we were leaving the house, she would hide to keep us from going. Her default way to hide was to stick her head and shoulders under my bed, with her rump still out in the open. It was so funny to see this little five-pound Yorkie butt sticking up in the air. Meanwhile, she couldn’t see us so she assumed we couldn’t see her.
This is how we are with God too. Adam and Eve hid in the woods—did they really think God couldn’t see them? I have my default hiding spots, too, that I fall into when avoiding a ‘hard conversation’ with God…do I really think He can’t see me? Those times I’ve come out of hiding and talked about the obvious with Him, I’ve experienced such relief. So why do I still default to avoidance? These aren’t hard conversations at all. The hard part is knowing how to start it.
“The first lesson, then, consists in admitting our need for help, coming to know that we are infected by sin and sinful tendencies, and that we need to be healed of this spiritual disease. Since (with the devil’s help) we have become experts in muffling our conscience, however, we can easily convince ourselves that we don’t really need God. But if that were the case, why would Christ have come to earth?” (Fr. John Bartunek) [ii]
Perhaps the most fruitful thing any of us can do this Lent is to examen for our default hiding places and come out of the woods. And there will be many hiding places to uncover. The first step is to admit that giving up chocolate for 40 days, only to eat 40 days of chocolate on Easter, just doesn’t work anymore. You’ll quickly see that those hiding places are actually healing places, and all this stuff we hear about Jesus being the Divine Healer is true.
Part of this requires acceptance of an important premise: we cannot reach God by going around our humanity. We can only reach Him by going through our humanity. He desires to perfect it, not abolish it.
After all, how silly to think we can hide from God. He looks at our silliness just like I did with Blossom’s: a big smile. And as St. Therese discovered about being childlike, the sillier we are, the more affection He has for us.
Perhaps the greatest change we can make this Lent is a new perspective. 😊
For our Lenten commitment, let us ask for the grace of even more fervent prayer for Pope Francis, our worldwide Church and our country,
O my Beloved, under the white Eucharistic Veil Thou dost indeed appear to me,
Meek and Humble of Heart! To teach me humility, Thou canst not further abase Thyself, and so I wish to respond to Thy Love, by putting myself in the lowest place, by sharing Thy humiliation, so that I may “have part with Thee” in the Kingdom of Heaven. I implore Thee, dear Jesus, to send me a humiliation whensoever I try to set myself above others.
(St. Terese of Lisieux Prayer to Obtain Humility)
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam 😊
Photo © 2021 Debra Black—no use permitted. All rights reserved.
[i] St. Terese of Lisieux prayers found in her private journal http://www.goodcatholicbooks.org/pdf/TheresePrayers.pdf