Signs and wonders
July 16, 2009 § 1 Comment
Sorry for the lack of posts this week! My research project is picking up (huzzah!), the office is super-busy (ack!), the migraines are back (yuck!), and I AM REALLY STRESSED OVER THE GRE (nooooo!). Sigh.
There are times when we can interpret the signs of God’s will all around us; there are also times when we cannot and we must humbly acknowledge that.
If the Lord has given me intelligence, it is because He wills me to see something of His intentions for me, in order that I may enter into His plans with a free and intelligent co-operation. And so I cannot merely shut my eyes and will ‘whatever He wills’ without ever looking up to see what He is doing.
It is true that we do not always know what the will of God for us really is. Perhaps we know it far less often than we imagine. That does no mean that we must not seek to know it. He wills that we obey in everything that we know to be commanded by Him, that we do nothing that He has forbidden, that we will all that He wills us to will and reject all that He wills us to reject. After that we must solve all our doubts by testing them with His known will, and by doing what is uncertain only in the light of what is certainly His will.
Of all the things and all the happenings that proclaim God’s will to the world, only very few are capable of being interpreted by men. And of these few, fewer still find a capable interpreter. So that the mystery of God’s will is made doubly mysterious by the signs that veil it from our eyes. To know anything at all of God’s will we have to participate, in some manner, in the vision of the prophets: men who were always alive to the divine light concealed in the opacity of things and events, and who sometimes saw glimpses of that light where other men saw nothing but ordinary happenings.
And yet if we are too anxious to pry into the mystery that surrounds us we will lose the prophet’s reverence and exchange ti for the impertinence of soothsayers. We must be silent in the presence of signs whose meaning is closed to us. Otherwise we will begin incontinently to place our own superstitious interpretation upon everything — the number of steps to a doorway, a card pulled out of a pack, the shadow of a ladder, the flight of birds. God’s will is not so cheap a mystery that it can be unlocked by any key like these!
Nevertheless, there are some signs that everyone must know. They must be easily read and seen, and they are indeed very simple. But they come sparingly, few in number; they show us clearly enough the road ahead but not for more than a few paces. When we have taken those few paces, what will happen? We must learn to be poor in our dependence on these clear signs, to take them as they come, not to demand more of them than we need, not to make more of them than they really tell.
(Thomas Merton, No Man Is An Island)
And it continues. Sorry for the long quote, but I found it very enlightening. It is part of the will of God that we be cast into shadow at times in regards to His will, that we learn patience, trust, faith, hope, and a host of other virtues that we can only learn if we try to unite our wills to His. If we never tried to do God’s will, we would find only frustration in times of darkness or loneliness. The beauty of striving for Christ is that one find’s freedom and opportunity for betterment in darkness.
I read this, and a couple other things from the same book, on Tuesday while I was in Adoration. I had to put the book down and cry, because once again I had taken to God a heart filled with questions and a mind so cluttered with noise and stress that I could barely think, and He had spoken to me through the pages of a book. It blows me away how “my” choices of spiritual reading are always perfectly suited to me and my current state…each time I finish one book I just look at my shelf (of many unread works) and pick as the Spirit moves me. This time I was highly skeptical when I felt the urge to pull Thomas Merton off the shelf; I’ve heard good and bad things about his books. And, of course, it turns out God knew better than I and this little book is a treasure.
I’m renewing my Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary today, the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The first time I made the consecration was nine years ago, and I’ve never regretted it despite initial misgivings courtesy of my “issues” with Our Lady that – praise God! – were eventually worked out after a long, hard struggle. I *strongly* advise making the Consecration if you haven’t already: the fruits are endless. To read more about it, go to this website. The preparation period for both the initial Consecration and the renewal is three weeks, but it goes by so fast it really isn’t a huge burden.