Spirituality Matters 2017: September 28th - October 4th

* * * * *
(September 28, 2017: Thursday, Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time)
* * * * *

“Consider your ways!”

The verb “consider” is defined:

  • to think about (something or someone) carefully especially in order to make a choice or decision
  • to think about something that is important in understanding something or in making a decision or judgment
  • to think about (a person or a person's feelings) before you do something
In Part One of his Introduction to the Devout Life, Francis de Sales offers us a great many things to “consider”:
  • “Consider that a certain number of years ago you were not yet in the world.”
  • “Consider the nature that God has given to you. It is the highest in this visible world and is capable of eternal life and of being perfectly united to the Divine Majesty.”
  • “Consider the unhappiness of worldly people who live as if they believe themselves created only to build houses, plant trees, pile up wealth and do frivolous things.”
  • “Consider the corporal benefits that God has bestowed on you.”
  • “Consider your gifts of mind.”
  • “Consider your spiritual favors.”
  • “Consider your evil inclinations and how often you give way to them.”
  • “Consider particularly the sin of ingratitude to God.”
  • “Consider how uncertain the day of your death is.”
  • “Consider that there will come a time for you when the world will no longer be.”
  • “Consider the long, languishing goodbye that your soul will give to this world.”
  • “Consider with what haste others will carry away your body and bury it in the earth.”
  • Consider how the soul – after leaving the body – goes its way, either to the right or to the left. Ah, where will your soul go?”
  • “Consider the nobility, beauty and the number of the citizens and inhabitants of heaven.”
  • “Consider that you stand between heaven and hell and that each of them lies open to receive you according to the choices you make.”
  • “Consider that the choice of one or the other of them that we make in this world will last eternally in the world to come.”
What might you spend some time considering just this day?

* * * * *
(September 29, 2017: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael - Archangels)
* * * * *

“In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord…”

In his Treatise on the Love of God, Francis de Sales wrote:

“Sacred providence determined to produce all things, both natural and supernatural, for the sake of our Savior so that angels and men might serve him and thus share in his glory. For this reason, although God willed to create both angels and men with free will, free with a true freedom to choose good and evil, still, to testify that on the part of God’s goodness they were dedicated to what is good and to glory, he created all of them in the state of original justice, which is nothing other than a most sweet love which would dispose them for, turn them towards and set them on the way to eternal happiness.” (TLG, Book II, Chapter 4, p.112)

St. Francis de Sales believed that we have at least two things in common with the angels: (1) God created us with freedom and (2) God gave us a freedom tending toward what “is good and to glory”. Of course, God’s plans went awry in both cases. First, there was a revolt among some of the angels (recall the story of Lucifer) who resented having to pay homage to God. With this revolt God “resolved to abandon forever that sad and wretched legion of traitors who in furious rebellion had so shamefully abandoned him”. Second, (in the persons of Adam and Eve) “man would abuse his liberty, forsake grace and thus lose glory. Yet, God did not will to deal with human nature in so rigorous a way as he had decided to deal with angelic nature…he looked with pity upon our nature and resolved to have mercy on it”. (Ibid, pp. 112 - 113)

In the Salesian tradition, then, what distinguishes us from the angels are the lengths to which God will go to redeem us. In the case of the rebellious angels, God simply banished them from his presence. In the case of his rebellious creatures – people like you and me – God not only does not banish us, but he also sent his only Son to redeem us.

Francis de Sales says that the problem with many people who wish to pursue a life of devotion is that they make the mistake of trying to live like angels when they should be trying to live like good men and women. Given the fact that even the angels have had their share of challenges, maybe we have more than enough on our plates just being human without trying to be angelic, too.

What’s the moral of the story? Let’s do our level best to sing God’s praises in the sight of the angels, but let’s do it as humanly as possible!

* * * * *
(September 30, 2017: Saturday, Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time)
* * * * *

“Pay attention to what I am telling you.”

Some things in life are more important than others. With the hope of trying to impress upon another person that what we are about to say is of greater importance than other things, more often than not, we will preface our advice with words like “listen up,” “pay attention” or “this is really important”.

While we’d like to think that everything that Jesus said is of equal importance, Jesus clearly wanted to impress his disciples with the inevitability of his showdown with the religious leaders of his time. And while we know that Jesus raised this issue more than a few times in the Gospels, the disciples seem to have had difficulty in grasping the importance – even, the necessity – of this prediction.

In his Treatise on the Love of God, Francis de Sales wrote:

“The more pleasant and excellent are the objects our senses encounter, the more ardently and avidly do they enjoy them. The more beautiful, the more delightful to our sight, and the more effectively lighted they are, the more eagerly and attentively do our eyes look to them. The sweeter and more pleasant a voice or music is, the more completely is the ear’s attention drawn to it. This force is more or less strong in accordance with the greater or lesser excellence of the object, provided that it is proportionate to the capacity of the sense desiring to enjoy it. For example, although the eye finds great pleasure in light, it cannot bear extremely strong light, nor can it look steadily at the sun. No matter how beautiful music may be, if it is too loud and too close to us, it strikes harshly on the ear and disturbs it.” (TLG, Book III, Chapter 9, p. 186)

There are so many things that Jesus wants us to learn about the living in God’s love.

How well will we pay attention to what God may be telling us about those ways - just today?