Mattia Preti Wedding at Cana c. 1655. Common Domain.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places... St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians
“Never forget this: The Lord never gets tired of forgiving us. It is we, who get tired of asking for forgiveness. Have a great Sunday and a great lunch!” - Pope Francis' First Angelus Address
"If He asks much of you, it is because He knows that you can give much." - Pope St. John Paul II
Yes. Time flees. It flees our grasp and constantly rushes away from us, leaving us questioning almost ad nauseum, "Where did the time go?" And so it is again as I look back on what happened this last calendar year of 2015. This blur of a year, like so many of the quirks and mysteries of human existence is a blessing, I think. Time flies and eternity rushes toward us with unstoppable force. That we are passing through this life, year after year, is as true as the fact that God's fullness comes ever closer to us, and in a way is already given to us imperfectly through what was call "the present". The fact that time speeds by with breakneck celerity should give us a sense that time is really nothing of itself, but is always dependent upon God's eternity for its own existence. Like the image of our face in a mirror, time has existence only while God looks at creation with love... I should add here the words from Genesis, "he saw that it was good."
St. Paul says something remarkable and worthy of reflecting upon as we gear up for the gift and task of another year. God the Father has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Not a few blessings. Not most blessings. Every spiritual blessing is present to us in Christ, and Christ is present to us always through grace and the sacraments of the Church, especially the Eucharist. God is no miser. Christ is the plenitude of all that we need...and more. He commanded the empty jars at the Wedding at Cana to be filled to the brim, so that the utmost might be given, received, and enjoyed. The word superabundance come to mind to describe God's modus operandi. Did I always realize the abundance of God in the moment this past year? No, unfortunately, I missed it all too frequently. I do not think I am alone.
The answer is to live in the present. That unmeasurable, but most real, particle of time that God blesses us with at... well, all times! Contrarily, the life that is built on the lie that every day is monotonous, and that we must rush to get to the next thing, only to rush to get to the next thing, is a life of restless desperation. Living too far in the past or in the future is a sure way to become dissatisfied with everything. But it is also a life unaware of the joyful attention that God gives to everything at every moment. It fails to see things as they are; in their greatness. Chesterton said it the best:
“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we" (Orthodoxy, 1908).
Instead of writing anything, I should just copy and paste Chesterton. He always says it better than me anyway... But I digress. We must remember to be enamored with the present, with the blessing of the moment that is always given to us by God as a new creation. Like Chesterton relates, the similarity of day to day affairs is no proof that they are boring or without value. Rather, from God's perspective it would seem that they are ordinary because they are wonderful. The day to day is so interesting that God wills to continually "do it again!" If we get tired, bored, or desperate with life, it is because we are not living it in light of the divine joy of "doing it again!" God does not tire, because he is ever-ancient, ever-new as St. Augustine would have it. And he never tires of his creation (you, me, and all that is) because he is as enamored with it now as on the first day of creation. Newness never wears off if at every moment we are able to affirm the goodness of whatever stands before us.
This divine vitality and vigor is most beautifully expressed in the offer of Divine Mercy to us in the sacrament of confession. Pope Francis said something very early in his pontificate that I have not forgotten. He said that "God does not tire of forgiving us, rather we tire of asking for forgiveness". As one who frequents the confessional personally about every two weeks, and hears confessions every day, I must say that although I knew this, it was quite refreshing to hear it from the Pope. God must look at confession a bit like Chesterton imagines him creating daisies. Each and every confession is an expression of God's delight in giving mercy, in re-creating our souls to be more beautifully clothed than the lilies, or better, daisies of the field. That God never tires of forgiving me, I must say, is perhaps the most fruitful insight I've gleaned from this past year because with this insight comes tremendous confidence and desire to accomplish the work for which he has created me even if I mess it up, over, and over, and over. With every gift of mercy, is a gift of new vitality to carry out the unique mission for which I have been created and re-created. God's willingness to forgive often should give us some idea about grandeur of that purpose for which he has forgiven us repeatedly, namely to fulfill our vocations.
Over the last year, I have, in various ways, come to understand that God asks much of me. He asks much from all of us to varying degrees. We feel it every time we remember that we are called to be nothing less than saints. We sense the immensity of God's plan for us every time we intuit that we ought to do more, give more, be more. The important thing is to understand with St. John Paul II that "If He asks much of you, it is because He knows that you can give much." The virtue of magnanimity requires recognizing that, in fact, God asks tremendous things from us and wants us to accomplish these things. In the midst of our perceived weakness and failures, God sees within our hearts the capacity for greatness. When we fail, the Good Lord revitalizes within us that capacity to give much. It matters not how often we find ourselves in need of merciful re-vitalization. What matters in this new year is that we have the courage to live every moment as a magnanimous response to God's call to greatness..
To a great 2016!
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Jadyn Nelson