December 14, 2013
Welcome to Colleen’s Saturday meme hosted at Thoughts on Grace. How about joining us and sharing times and insights from finding God in the ordinary and quiet?
I’ve been using A Year With the Church Fathers by Mike Aquilina which I bought from St. Benedict Press for short meditations. Knowledge of the writings of the Church Fathers is definitely a weak point for me, and it seems also for the general Catholic population. Yet these early writers, some of whom were instructed directly by the Apostles, have a lot to offer us concerning God’s love for us, how He intervenes in our daily lives, and how we can build a good relationship with Him.
Today’s reading is from St. Augustine’s City of God, 7.31. It seems especially appropriate for Advent. (If you want to access any writings of the Church Fathers, you can find them all at New Advent, along with the Knox Bible translation, St. Thomas’ Summa, and the Catholic Encyclopedia plus a huge library.)
St. Augustine says:
We have already seen what good things God, who controls nature, lavishes on good and bad alike. But besides these, He shows the good an even greater love that belongs only to them.
I think that God lavishes good on all to give the bad the chance to wake up and find Him. For instance, we humans have a tendency to think that it is by our own efforts that a good harvest comes from field and stream, forgetting that God is behind it all. The good, by visibly thanking Him can cause the bad to ask themselves the deep existential questions necessary to begin reformation of life.
Now, we can never thank Him enough for the fact that we exist, that we live, that we see heaven and earth, that we have mind and reason to search for Him who made all these things.
I have been thinking a great deal about mind and reason these days – how important this gift of God is to assist our wills in making right choices and overcoming self-deception. It is when we obstinately cling to the concept of, “If it feels good, do it!” we have abandoned our mind and reason to our lower nature and are far less than what God created us to be. When we engage with others and end up with bad feelings, it’s because we are not using the mind and reason God gave us to keep us out of sin. We have bought into one or more lies. We might even say that we want to seek God, but then, perversely, we abandon our mind and reason and the truths God has written on our hearts, and seek our own will instead.
But nevertheless, no hearts and no tongues can say that they are enough to thank Him for this: that He has not left us completely, loaded down as we are with sins, loath to contemplate His light, and blinded by the love of darkness (that is, the love of sin).
God never slaps us away like a pesky mosquito. He pities us in our misery and offers what St. Augustine writes next.
Instead, He sent His own Word – His only Son – so that, by His birth and suffering for us in the flesh that He put on, we might know how much God valued us; and so that, by that unique sacrifice, we might be purified from our sins; and so that, when His Spirit had scattered love into our hearts, we might overcome every difficulty and come into eternal rest, and the unspeakable sweetness of the contemplation of God.
This paragraph of the City of God brings Advent to mind. Advent might seem like an odd time to think of our final end, but we can’t separate the coming of Christ from the purpose of His coming. That purpose was our redemption and sharing His divine life with us for eternity. Perhaps, then, we might not only thank God for all He has given us to cooperate in His plan of salvation, but also spend time this Advent asking the Holy Spirit to strengthen our mind and reason so that we might make the choices that will aid us in overcoming our difficulties in life and arrive at the peace which “surpasseth all understanding” (Phil. 4:7), the Prince of which arrived on earth in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago and Who still remains with us.
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R. Now and forever!
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