October 30, 2013Our journey towards sainthood can be compared to being put through a meat grinder. I’m old enough to know what meat grinders look like in action, having personally observed the cook use one in the convent where I once lived. A slab of a former cow is reduced to a pile of hamburger on its way to filling the stomachs of the hungry and so it is with us in our transformation along the way to heaven. God, our heavenly chef makes mincemeat out of us to shape us into something useful and delicious to feed those hungry for salvation.
Being ground up to bits is not fun. We can’t endure it without the grace of faith. St. Therese of Lisieux knew this well, writing in Story of a Soul, “I have made more acts of faith during the past year than in all the rest of my life.” In this case she was speaking of the dark night of the soul, but her words could just as easily apply to all the circumstances we face when God allows us to endure situations which afflict, humble, and mortify us.
In meditation #351 of Divine Intimacy Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene writes:
It will sometimes be easier to accept heavy trials which come directly from Our Lord, such as illness and bereavement, than other lighter ones where creatures enter into play, and for which, perhaps, we experience greater repugnance. The immediate action of creatures, especially if their malice has a share in it, makes it more difficult for us to discover the divine hand. A greater spirit of faith is necessary here, that we may pass beyond the human side of circumstances, the faulty way of acting of such and such a person, and find, beyond all these human contingencies, the dispositions of divine Providence, which wills to use these particular creatures, and even their defects and errors, to file away our self-love and destroy our pride.
God’s divine plan has placed us with our parents, our siblings, our bosses and coworkers, the service people at the grocery store, restaurants, and gas stations, and all others we encounter in our daily lives. Sometimes all goes well for us in our interactions, and sometimes the people we live with or meet while conducting daily business act like teeth in a meat grinder. By the time they get done with us we feel like a lump of raw flesh. Then we are tempted to give those people a lot of air time in our heads, devising all sorts of come backs and tortures for them in our imagination, stuck in the immediate past and blind to the hand of God behind it all.
St. Paul tells us in 1 Thess. 4: 3 “…For this is the will of God, your sanctification…”. It is, all day every day, in every encounter, God’s will that we become holier, more humble, more charitable, more self-sacrificing. He knows what we need to be transformed into the image of Jesus, and is the expert in tough love.
Instead of indulging in feelings of resentment towards those chewing away at us, we need to develop the habit of asking God, “Lord, what is it You wish me to learn from this?” Instead of asking, “Why does this always happen to me?” we should be asking, “Lord, what new way of thinking and acting do you desire from me?”
If we look behind the surface of everything that happens to us and think about how God is loving us through even those things that are disagreeable, painful, or abhorrent to us, we will likely be inspired as St. Therese was, to make supernatural acts of faith. However God chooses to transform us, we can always be sure it is for our sanctification and those we are an example to, and an opportunity to strengthen our will in conformity to His.
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