August 26, 2013
A fellow blogger inspired this post when she wrote about her frustrations with Holy Days of Obligation being celebrated during the week, which necessitates our attending Mass according to Church law. Many people feel that way, some to the extent that they skip Mass, but not so this blogger who went because it was her duty to go whether she liked it or not.
Life is like that. We all have duties, some of which become outright oppressive at times. Who hasn’t been tempted to shirk them at home, at work, or church? The concupiscence of our human nature is constantly at war with our spirit which urges us on to the noble acts required by our status as children of God. Fulfillment of all of our duties according to our state in life and its attendant obligations is a virtuous act of filial piety, something we tend to rebel against now and then. Filial piety flows into devotion, which St. Thomas Aquinas tells us, is “the will to do promptly all that pertains to the service of God.”
Since we are speaking specifically about attending Mass, how does God view the person who kicks himself out of bed, rearranges his schedule to accommodate an act of the virtue of religion, takes into account the coordination of family members’ schedules plus work, etc. while groaning all the way? To quote from Divine Intimacy, meditation #282,
St. Thomas teaches that devotion is an act of the will, that this act can very well exist in spite of aridity, coldness, repugnance, and even rebellion in the inferior part of the soul. St. Paul himself, although raised to the third heaven, was still not entirely free from these miseries, and confessed: “I am delighted with the law of God, according to the inward man: but I see another law in my members, fighting against the law of my mind” (Rom. 7:22-23). Now as St. Paul – in spite of this resistance in the sensible part of his soul – was not deprived of true piety and true devotion, so neither is the soul deprived of them if it remains firm in the decision of its will to give itself promptly to God’s service, in spite of everything.
Devotion, which is derived from the Latin word devoveo means precisely consecration to the divinity; and the soul gives itself entirely to God, not by bursts of enthusiasm in its feelings, but by an act of the will. Furthermore, when devotion is deprived of relish for the things of God, “it has a double worth, because the soul both fulfills its duty and governs its sensitive appetite by a strong act of the will” (Ven. John of Jesus Mary).
Considering this, the very fact that we fulfill our duties to God in spite of feeling aggravated, irritated, frustrated, rebellious, or angry is a sign that our spirit is overcoming the flesh. We are strengthening our will and the virtues of filial piety and devotion. If we want to broaden the subject to our entire life, if we make the morning offering every day everything we do is sanctified regardless of the mood we’re in. We have bowed our stiff necks to the Lord and advanced one more step along the narrow way.
To be able to do our duty with a spirit of surrender to God’s will and with joy is a process. We don’t get there over night, and, in fact, our battle is never ending until the moment of death although we do make progress along the way. This is all part of fighting the good fight and winning the race (1 Tim. 6:12; 1 Cor. 9:24). Let us thank God then for the opportunities He gives us to improve our spiritual athleticism so that we will one day meet Him at the finish line.
This post is linked to Sunday Snippets where all are welcome.
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R. Now and forever!
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