The Immutability of God

Let nothing disturb you,


Let nothing frighten you,


All things are passing away:


God never changes.


Patience obtains all things


Whoever has God lacks nothing;


God alone suffices.


-St. Teresa of Avila

God is perfect. If we want to join Him in heaven one day then we are the ones who must change, we must become like Him. And who is He? He is Love Eternal. And what is love, we often have to ask ourselves, when our daily experience reminds us that love is not simply an emotion. Paul tells us in First Corinthians:

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love]is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

Love, Paul tells us, is not pompous. It does not bend the truth to make daily life more tolerable by justifying our own bad behavior. The great saints of our time: Blessed Mother Theresa, Pope St. John Paul II, and St. Therese of Lisieux, to name a few, are held up as living examples of Christ’s love for us. In their very different life experiences they embraced the wholeness of truth, the fullness of our faith and the sometimes extremely difficult demands that Love made on their lives.

Blessed Mother Theresa was sent to care for Jesus in the poor and she devoted her life to doing so, even becoming as poor as the people she served in order to fully show her love for Jesus in them. She, for example, could have glossed over the truth or emphasized a more acceptable part of our faith in order to raise more money for her order or her people, but she did not.

Pope St. John Paul II gave himself body and soul to his call to the papacy. When Parkinson’s Disease relentlessly overran his body, John Paul II did not hide himself from view but instead courageously continued his public duties even as his once-athletic body became visibly frail, encouraging countless others to carry the cross of their diseases with courage and confidence in their inherent dignity.

When the pressure of common life with her religious sisters felt overwhelming, St. Therese bravely embraced those opportunities to shower love on those who repulsed or angered her, laying aside her pride in obedience to Jesus’s call to love everyone to such a degree as to make those unlovable sisters wonder why St. Therese loved them so much.

These ordinary people became saints because they yielded to God’s love for them instead of their own self-love. Instead of trying to shape the world around them to their own liking, they embraced the opportunity to give themselves away for the sake of Christ’s truth. Their example invites us to reflect on our own sinfulness: where in my life am I insisting on my own truth instead of Christ’s? What sins am I justifying out of fear of change? What demands does my faith place on me that feel overwhelming today?

In prayer we can bring to Our Lord through the intercession of Our Lady our fears and weaknesses, the things that love demands and which fill us with loathing. Instead of hiding from Him or insisting that we’re doing the best that we can, we can instead run to Christ who can begin the sanctifying work of conforming us to His will. He is waiting for us with expansive patience and tenderness, He who was crucified for us. The same love that kept Him in torment for us is still there, unchanged, waiting to change us into beauty and light.

Copyright 2016 Meg Matenaer
Photo: “God-sky” by Plume (2014) via Morguefile

Fighting Sin with Hope: When the News is Unbearable

The news from around the world is now almost intolerable to read. The desecration of the Eucharist; the ins and outs of ISIS and their daily evil; the trafficking of women and children in Asia; the plight of families in Africa; the abuse of children; the invasion of Ukraine; our manifold challenges here in our country; evil and chaos appear to have the upper-hand, and hearing about it every day can wear down our hope and resolve to make a difference. Because faced with these horrifying wide-spread realities, any normal person is bound to wonder what difference he can possibly make and worry if he, too, will simply be swallowed up by the blackness that seems to be spreading.

It’s good to remind ourselves often and it is actually we, who in the person of Jesus Christ, have the ultimate advantage. Our God who humbled Himself to take on our nature is far more powerful than any evil we could encounter. And when we give ourselves totally to Him, He can make use of us in such far-reaching ways that we could only dream of. The lives of the saints, especially those who lived hidden lives such as St. Therese of Liseux, are testament to this.

In The Three Ages of the Interior Life Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, OP, reminds us of what God can do with us when we offer to Him totally free and loving gifts of prayer and sacrifice:

In all these questions, whether good or evil is involved, particular attention must be paid to what proceeds from our higher faculties, the intellect and will: that is, to the act of the will following full knowledge of the case. And, from this point of view, if an evil act committed with full deliberation and consent, like a formal pact with the devil, has formidable consequences, a good act, such as the oblation of self to God, made with full deliberation and consent and frequently renewed, can have even greater consequences in the order of good; for the Holy Ghost is of a certainty infinitely more powerful than the spirit of evil, and He can do more for our sanctification than the latter can for our ruin. It is well to think of this in the face of the gravity of certain present-day events. The love of Christ, dying on the cross for us, pleased God more than all sins taken together displeased Him; so the Savior is more powerful to save us than the enemy of good is to destroy us. With this meaning, Christ said: ‘Fear ye not them that kill the body and are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell.’ Unless we open the door of our hearts to him, the enemy of good cannot penetrate into the sanctuary of our will, whereas God is closer to us than we are to ourselves and can lead us strongly and sweetly to the most profound and elevated meritorious free acts, to acts that are the prelude of eternal life.

In the face of great evil we can choose to ignore it, despair, join it, or resist, through offering Our good Lord all of ourselves. The next time we’re confronted by upsetting news, we can lift up our sorrow to Him, with love, hope, and trust, and truly know that we are doing something and something very powerful, to help fight the tide of sin and death in our world.

How do you battle the tide of sin with hope? What do you “do” that gives you hope when the news is intolerable?