Friday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Living in any place long enough, one learns to read some of the signs of nature. In the dry West, the hint of a cloud high up in a cloudless sky indicates that gradually, far more clouds will be coming, and that rain or snow are on the way. In the Great Plains, a dreadful stillness on a humid summer’s day, a hint of rosy gray at dawn, indicates that it is likely one will want to stay close to the tornado shelter by late afternoon. To see and know these things can be essential for well-being and life itself.
In our “plugged in” world, many, if not most, people are oblivious to such signs. One winter when I lived in Wisconsin was record-breaking in its warmth. Not so on the East Coast, where the records for cold were broken. I learned a great lesson when, at winter’s end, people I knew who watched a lot of TV were complaining about how cold the winter had been. But it hadn’t been cold where we lived: the TV was focused on the East Coast, and that is what these TV viewers in Wisconsin were experiencing as reality.
How plugged in are we to the reality God has given, is giving us, every day? Do we know how to read the “signs of the times” in our own lives? Do we see winter coming and act appropriately – that is, as we age, are we preparing for death and judgment, or is our spiritual life one endless comb-over? In the end, there will be no TV to define our reality for us, and this world and its group-take on reality will drop away. The final storms will come, and we will be gone to the Lord of all weathers. May He find us watching for His coming!
Grace: An intimate knowledge of the many blessings received, that filled with gratitude for all, I may in all things love and serve the Divine Majesty.
Reflection: In the meditation upon sin, we made reference to Dante’s vision of hell, a cold, desolate place where the fire of love has been extinguished and all lies in a spiritual torpor. This is the perfect image of the heart grown cold to the stirrings of love which God places within it. At the opposite end of Dante’s journey lies a vision that perfectly encapsulates the final meditation of the Spiritual Exercises, the Contemplation to Attain Divine Love. From the lowest reaches of the spiritual universe, Dante ascends to the heights of heaven, where he views “the love that moves the sun and the other stars.” At the heart of the universe lives the Trinitarian God, whose perfect love draws all being into an ordered symphony of praise. Dante feels himself drawn into this harmonic vision through the enflaming of his passions and desires. No one with eyes to see can sit impassively at the vision of God’s love. From the disordered state in which Dante had fallen at the beginning of the poem, he becomes progressively cleansed of his disordered affections through the grace of God and the intercession of Beatrice until finally he is able to pass through the heavens and stand in the presence of God. But notice that Dante only sees God’s depths after he has been interiorly transformed.