My aunt used to tell her children “a fair is something you go to in the summer time.” In other words, life is not “fair”! The Israelites should heed my aunt’s wisdom as they receive a strong reprimand from the Lord: “You say, “The LORD’S way is not fair!” Hear now, house of Israel: Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?”
Sometimes there might be a temptation, maybe even just a slight temptation to think “living the Faith is difficult. I see all these other people who don’t, but seem to be very happy and have great success. Why even bother?” Well the prophet also gives us a clear indication that if you or I want to live, we must truly let our relationship with God affect every aspect of our lives. It is only if you or I lose our supernatural vision that we start trying to be the judges of what is right and wrong. We cannot let the waves in the current culture dictate to us what is right or wrong. Today October begins–the month of the Holy Rosary and Respect Life month. At the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Saint John Paul II said, “be not afraid!”. We need to hear this. So often we are making decisions based on fear: people are rejecting marriage, choosing rather to simply live together, mothers and fathers are perhaps driven by financial fears or societal pressure to contracept. Mothers are heavily encouraged by doctors to be sterilized after giving birth. Young people are discouraged by their families and friends from following the Lord in answering the call to a vocation of priesthood or religious life. Women who find themselves pregnant and in a difficult situation are heavily pressured by many to simply abort their baby.
This is not the way of the Gospel. Our Lord wants to set us free from these fears, but we will not be free from fear if we allow the ways of society dictate to us how we live our lives. Pope Paul VI warned about what would happen to a culture if contraception were to be the norm. “Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards.” These are the words from his encyclical on human life, which we should all take some time to read and put into practice. Written in 1968 these words are truly prophetic.
What are we to do? Of course, if we do find ourselves in one of these situations I mentioned, we should make some effort to change our lives: don’t live with your boyfriend or girlfriend, throw out the contraception and be open to new life, encourage vocations and be courageous enough to say “yes” to God, know of the power of confession to heal our wounds. If you are a man or a woman who has ever been involved in abortion, come to confession, and trust in the Sacred Heart of Jesus to embrace you. However, we must really go deeper since these societal ills are caused by what John Paul II called a culture a death–a culture which seeks to remove God from the picture. When we remove God, we will live with the bad results Paul VI predicted. For those who have suffered from abortion, Rachel’s Vineyard is an excellent healing ministry. Also, for those in crisis pregnancy, groups like the Gabriel Project provide material, spiritual, and emotional support. When we are open to having our relationship with God affect our daily lives, then great things can happen.
Today is the feast day of St Therese of Lisieux, who is a doctor of the Church. She was a Carmelite nun who died at the age of 24. She had profound experiences of God in prayer, but she also experienced times when she only experienced darkness and was being called to trust more and more in God’s plan for her. She did not simply fall from a tree, but she was raised in a family. Her mother and father had nine children, and only five girls lived past childhood, so they experienced great joys and sufferings. Her family did not live in fear, but they were open to God’s generous plan for their lives. Daily mass, visits to the sick, welcoming the poor into their home, prayer and fasting marked their lives. Little did they know that Therese would be a doctor of the Church. In 2015 both Therese’s parents were also canonized as saints.
This family provides us with a powerful and inspiring example of selfless love lived and learned in a family that suffered greatly. Therese’s mother would die at a young age from breast cancer and her father died of old age and the effects caused by two paralyzing strokes. Leonie, Therese’s sister, had many struggles and went from one convent to another, until after Therese’s death she finally found peace in the Visitation convent. We can pray to these brothers and sisters in heaven to help us.
The culture says “this is your body which is given up for me” while our Lord says “this is my body which is give up for you”. The more we entrust our lives to our Lord’s generous plan, the more society will think we are crazy, but the happier you and I will be. To be truly faithful to our Baptism, we must follow our Lord all the way to the cross. We must give of ourselves entirely–we must die to ourselves. I don’t know about you, but this can be a difficult thing to do on a daily basis. We can always hold onto the hand of the Blessed Mother, praying the rosary, and begging her to get us the grace to be free from fear–to truly follow our Lord.