09 June 2008

Peaceful certainty

During the summer, I go to a lot of garage sales. I buy most of my kids' clothes at garage sales (at least while they're too young to complain!) and I find lots of interesting things. Since my house doesn't lack for any more geegaws, I typically only buy kids' clothes and books.

The books I buy are either beach-read mysteries or good spiritual books (and books for the kids). Typically, when I buy the religious-type books at garage sales I feel, for a brief moment when I'm handing over my money, that the seller is trying to get a psychological understanding of me. Probably because when I find these types of books, I, too, am wondering about the seller. Why are they selling these little treasures? Are they no longer Catholic? Have they read it and mastered it? Is it something that their great-aunt Bea left them, hoping it would change their life? Are they so blessed with good literature that they no longer need it? (A little known fact about me is that I have quite a bit of course work in psychology. Just enough to get me in trouble.)

One of the books I discovered, that I had already planned to buy, was Finding God's Will for You, by St. Francis de Sales. The first time I read it, I was not impressed. I think I was expecting a book Oprah would've recommended, with clearly identified steps as to how to discern God's will, not something that is more subtle, lofty and truly spiritual as St. Francis' book. I wanted to complete a prescribed process and in the end have God spell out His will, not have to go looking for it, nor listen for it or discern it. I was raised in a quick-fix world.

There are so many good quotes and the book is filled with gentle advice. Like they say, God is in the quiet, you have to listen for Him.

"It [God's will] is like what might be said of a little child who does not yet have use of his will so as to desire or love anything except his dear mother's breast or face. He does not think of wanting to be on one side or the other, or of desiring anything else whatever save only to be in the arms of his mother, with whom he things himself to be one being. He is never at pains to adapt his will to his mother's, for he does not know his own will and does not think he has one. To his mother he leaves complete care to go, to do, and to will what she finds good for him."

"We...can walk with Him in two ways. In the first way, we can walk with the steps of our own will, which we conform to His, holding always with the hand of our obedience the hand of His divine intention and following wherever it leads us. Since He wills that I do what He ordains, He wills me to have the will to do it. God has signified that He wills me to keep holy the day of rest. Since He wills that I do this, He then wills that I will to do it, and that for this end I have a will of my own by which I follow His by conforming and corresponding to it.

But we can also walk with out Lord without having any will of our own. We simply let ourselves be carried by His divine good pleasure, just as a little child is carried in his mother's arms, by a certain kind of admirable consent that may be called the union, or rather the unity, of our will with that of God."

I guess this is part of what being "childlike" in the eyes of God means, except surrendering my grown-up ways and ideas is a hard concept I never quite master.

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