Monday, September 26, 2016


I just spent the last ten minutes looking at paintings of "The Visitation" (of the Blessed Mother to her cousin Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist). It is a wonderful exercise, you should try it. There are all shapes and colors of Mary and Elizabeth (although not nearly as many gray-haired Elizabeths as I had imagined!). How wonderful that we are all able to see these great figures look like us. Was the Blessed Mother Chinese? No, but, remember Acts, Chapter 2? The Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost and enabled them to speak in different languages, so that all would understand. If an African person wants to see an African Mary and Elizabeth in order to understand, so be it.

The Visitation, by Mariotto Albertinelli
I have this in my mind because, after Mass, not seeing the regular rosary group, our small tribe headed down to the Eucharistic chapel to pray. As always, I was assigned #2 (I don't mind...especially today) and it was active in my mind as I prayed...

- Here is Elizabeth, rejoicing that her cousin is carrying the Savior of the world.
- Elizabeth, again, grateful that her child, John the Baptist (forerunner of Christ) leaps in her womb
- Elizabeth's big role in the Christ story is to take part in a miraculous conception in order to produce her son...certainly more than a cameo but hardly a staring role...she rejoices that she can play some part, her part.

Today's first reading is from Job:
One day, when the angels of God came to present themselves before the LORD,
Satan also came among them.
And the LORD said to Satan, “Whence do you come?”
Then Satan answered the LORD and said,
“From roaming the earth and patrolling it.”
And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job,
and that there is no one on earth like him,
blameless and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil?”
But Satan answered the LORD and said,
“Is it for nothing that Job is God-fearing?
Have you not surrounded him and his family
and all that he has with your protection?
You have blessed the work of his hands,
and his livestock are spread over the land.
But now put forth your hand and touch anything that he has,
and surely he will blaspheme you to your face.”
And the LORD said to Satan,
“Behold, all that he has is in your power;
only do not lay a hand upon his person.”
So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.

Then, of course, Satan goes out to wreak all kinds of havoc on poor Job (this is an excellent example for those people you meet that think Satan is not an active force to be dealt with daily. If you think he's a passive spirit, you could not be more wrong). Job, having lost everything he had and loved, realizes the important thing still remains...

Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb,
and naked shall I go back again.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
blessed be the name of the LORD!
How many of us, losing everything, would be praising God? There was a story today of the lack of despair on the part of two people who had their luggage stolen while traveling.  They continued on their journey without trepidation. Indeed, this should be our response in everything...ultimate trust in the goodness and protection of Our Father in heaven.

I'm currently reading The Spiritual Combat. It talks of the essential need to have total distrust in ourselves and total trust in God.
THE PRESUMPTUOUS MAN is convinced that he has acquired a distrust of himself and confidence in God, but his mistake is never more apparent than when some fault is committed. For, if he yields to anger and despairs of advancing in the way of virtue, it is evident that he has placed his confidence in himself and not in God. The greater the anxiety and despondence, the greater is the certainty of his guilt.
It's easy to say and clearly, difficult to do. Earlier today, upon hearing that my best laid plans have come to naught, I did feel disappointed. So, I have to turn back, seek forgiveness for the thought that I had control over the situation, and turn it all over to Him. Ultimately it's His fight anyway. (This is true, no matter what the subject, by the way). We should work to do all in our power to advance virtue and right but also recognize that the final result is not in our power. We are in the world with so many other people and everyone attends to their own priorities, whether or not they advance virtue and right. From that view, no one will have the ability to achieve any lasting success without a Greater Power, mainly the Creator of all things.

Elizabeth, in her acceptance of God's will in conceiving and bearing John, her joy at Christ's Incarnation, and her satisfaction with her given role, "got it". She understood being small in the face of God's Largeness. Her trust in His work through her life is immense. She, like Job, rejoices, in the part she plays within God's grand design.The trials and questions do not dissuade...and ultimately they are richly rewarded. What a wonderful thought as we travel this valley of tears.

We are blessed.

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