Friday, May 9, 2014

+J.M.J.+

Well, perhaps in this post we can get to some more of the numerous things I have learned in the past week or so, such as diligence, keeping promises, and more recently, humility. I’ve learned more things about faith from my catechism readings, and I still have those post-grad hopes to share…we still may not get to them all, and that’s okay.

With regards to diligence…I feel this is a virtue that is highly lacking, both in myself and in the world as a whole. Diligence is working at something, building up your skills, learning from your mistakes, and through it all, never giving up. Learning the faith requires a lot of diligence…and a lot of humility. Humility truly is the root of this virtue of diligence. We must first realize that we have something to learn, that we are not where we need to be with some skill, some virtue, some gift or talent that needs development. This requires humility, looking at ourselves as we are and evaluating truthfully what we are capable of (honestly, nothing without God’s grace) and what we are not. When we see those many areas in need of development, we employ the virtue of diligence– a mixture of patience, perseverance, wisdom, hope and courage–to get the job done.

In addition to employing this virtue, we must also pray for it, and ask for God’s grace to see us through to the end of our task, no matter how long it may take or how many times we may fail at it. There are no true failures unless we give up. And when it is virtue we seek, which draws us closer to God and renders our soul more pleasing to Him, He will not fail to give us what we ask for. That is the great thing about diligence in the spiritual life–it always has a pay off, whereas diligence in the purely temporal aspects of our life (asking our boss for a raise, working to gain some skill we are not particularly gifted in, etc.) does not necessarily guarantee a reward. But the old adage holds true, most especially in the spiritual life: “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.”

I believe Our Lord told a parable about a widow pestering a judge to hear her case. After asking continually that the judge avenge her, though the judge did not fear God or man, he eventually granted her what she asked. Our Lord comforts us with this, saying that God will swiftly avenge His elect who cry to Him for justice (Luke 18:1-8, DRA). If an unjust judge heard the case of the persistent widow, will not God hear the prayers of His people? We must have diligence in prayer; we read in the lives of the Saints how their diligence won them what they asked for–and often more than what they asked for. The first instance that comes to mind is the diligence of St. Monica for the conversion of her husband and son. After years and years of weeping and praying, her prayers were answered and she died in the knowledge that her husband and theretofore lost son were reconciled to the Church and to God. And not only did her prayers for their conversion bring their desired fruit, but her son became a great Saint, a Doctor of the Church! Thus God always repays those who cry to Him without fail, giving even more than their prayers’ request in His goodness and kindness towards them.

Diligence also teaches us about hope. Why are we diligent unless we earnestly hope for what we seek? If we did not hope for it, diligence would be of no use to us. What we seek would be always out of reach–thus those who lose hope often cease from doing good works and sometimes even take their own life, no longer seeing the usefulness of anything they do. No, friends, hope inspires diligence, as do humility, love of God, wisdom and courage. We love God; we hope to possess Him, and He gives us the wisdom and courage to seek Him with all our might, and the patience and perseverance to keep going–thus resulting in diligence, a lovely name we can use for this lovely virtue, a ‘compound’ virtue, if you will. It requires a lot of us, but the grace of God is sufficient for us in all things.

Also, on a side note, we must have diligence in keeping promises, not only between neighbors, but in our state of life and in our spiritual lives as well. At Baptism we make a promise to God to serve Him only. In Holy Matrimony we promise God and our spouse to remain with them, dwell with them, and raise children in the Catholic faith with them until death parts us. In Holy Orders the soul commits itself to serve God in a special way and devotes itself to the pastoring of souls and care of the Sacraments. Special promises to God are made by those of a religious vocation as well. Whatever our state of life, we have made a promise of one type or another to God to serve Him in a certain way, and that is why obedience and diligence in the duties of our state of life are so vital, and why it is a grave sin for us to neglect them. Our duties are part of a promise we have made to God, and therefore require diligent observation and care. We are diligent in them because we hope to obtain the reward of our promise to God, and hope to obtain His helps in keeping our promises, and most of all because we hope to possess eternal life with God.

Our chosen state of life is our little roadway to Him, and we must be willing to persevere through anything we find on that path, because this is the only road for us–this is the road we have promised God to travel on, and the road He has promised to help us travel, in order to reach Him. So diligence requires hope for something, and the highest hope is to hope to possess God. This is why we keep our promises–each one is important, each one requires diligence to keep.

Even among our neighbors, we are required to keep our promises, because they bind us on our word, and to fail in them means to tarnish our name and, more importantly, to dishonor God. Dutiful obedience to His commands brings honor and glory to God. When we do not obey, or are remiss in our duties that we have bound ourselves to, we dishonor God by disobedience and by turning away from the promises we have made. God never fails in His promises, and therefore we, as representatives of God and of His Church, made in His image, bring dishonor to God by acting contrary to the One we represent.

Also, humility and self-knowledge should keep us from making promises that we are unable to keep. We should not bind ourselves to something that is outside of our power, but only what is reasonable for us to keep and hold ourselves to. And in any promise we make, whether to God or our neighbor, we should ask God to help us keep it, because only by His grace can we stand, and only by His grace are we made to live according to the Truth.

Well, that covers quite a bit. I learned a lot just by writing this today, and I hope you, dear reader, have gained something here by my humble scribblings. May God bless you, and hopefully next time I can share some of my hopes for the future, and what God has given me thus far in this new chapter of my life.

P.S. Don’t forget–the Month of May is dedicated to Our Lady!! Honor her and thank her for her holy intercession and maternal love for us by some special prayers, devotions, readings, etc., especially in this month devoted to her!

+Deo Gratias! Maria Gratias!+

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