April 20, 2013
Welcome to Sabbath Moments hosted by Colleen at Thoughts on Grace. How about joining us to share a few of your own?
In the aftermath of the horrendous terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon this week, God showed His mercy in the many kind acts of people at the scene and elsewhere throughout the week. Father Z mentioned in Boston’s Wake the importance of the beautiful prayer against a sudden and unprovided death. That phrase is also in the Litany of the Saints which is always prayed at the Easter Vigil, but also is part of ordination liturgies and on other feasts. You can find the same prayer at my blog under the tab “Prayers for the Dying”.
We never know when our last moment will be, but we can be confident of gaining heaven if we die in the state of grace. It really brought home to me once again the importance of continual work on the spiritual life and going to confession regularly.
From what we know of the bombers, they are Islamic terrorists. The father of the young men was mentioned as living in Russia, but no mention of the mother was made in any news story. Where is/was she?
It seems that the younger brother admired his older brother greatly and followed him in everything. This story is about more than the evils of Islam. It’s also about something wrong in a family, I think. We just don’t know all the details. In any case, we must pray for all who have been immediately affected by this evil act, including the two bombers. What a waste. This whole event reminds me of 1 Peter 5:8:
Be sober, be watchful! For your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goes about seeking someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith.
Daily Francis fix
Every day Pope Francis gives a short homily at Mass in the small chapel at the Casa Santa Martha where he lives. Each one contains gems to delight those seeking a closer relationship with God. Vatican Radio makes these quotes available so I have been taking advantage of it and getting my daily Francis fix. This is a real blessing – exposure to Ignatian spirituality in bits and pieces from the Holy Father every day.
Because I think of the entire communion of saints as a family and the Pope as an earthly spiritual father, a quick read of his words every day is like sitting down at the dinner table and getting snippets of wisdom to guide my life from my own Dad. Plenty of Sabbath Moments there because we encounter God wherever we find truth.
The worst of sinners
All the saints thought themselves the worst of sinners. Our normal human reaction to that is, “Wow. They’re saints. They’re way better than I and a whole lot of other people out there. How could they think that?”
This morning reading Simon’s commentary on the Holy Rule of St. Benedict dealing with just this, and under the topic of the fifth degree of humility I read:
There was evidently on their part a work of comparison indicated by St. Benedict. One cannot judge oneself lower than all others without comparing oneself with all others. But at the bottom of that comparison there is this fact, most significant, that we know ourselves well and that we cannot judge others.
The point is that what we see in others, even in the greatest sinners, are the exterior acts, which may be grave and deplorable materially; but there is an element, important for judging them well which escapes us: the psychological element; that which more or less attenuates their responsibility; above all, the quantity and the nature of the graces granted them. There is no one but God who can judge them well, and certainly God’s thoughts are not men’s.
On the other hand, we know ourselves, or at least we can know ourselves. The more we meditate, under the eyes of God, the more we recognize the multitude of the graces He ha showered on us and the numberless mercies with which He has surrounded us. And we have made so little progress! We are always so faithless, always so ungrateful. We never stop sinning, at the very time when, with so many supernatural aids, with so much love on God’s part, we ought to be saints! We never stop sinning, and we feel that if God did not come to our assistance, we should easily go on to the gravest sins.
…We cannot judge of the responsibility of our brethren, but we are only too certain of our own abuses of grace and our own ungratefulness. That is what should help put us in our true place.
We shall not reach it, to be sure, at the first try. That is why St. Benedict did not commence with this degree. With the Saints, the knowledge of self is disengaged from illusions of self-love and vanity by the intensity of the knowledge of God.
In the context of the Boston bombings I have to ask myself some questions. Can a jihadist really know God? Is not the error level of Islam so great that apprehension of truth is difficult in the extreme? Is not this even yet one more marker of the failure of the Church to evangelize as we have been called to do? My failure? Are we not dealing with a genuine absence of goodness and kindness and truth?
The jihadists have to be held accountable for their actions, no doubt, both by God and the earthly courts. But lest we think we could never do what they did, remember what we did to Jesus on the cross. Remember the graces we have been given to know God and exercise our free will in truth. Have we used those graces well?
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R. Now and forever!
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