Thursday of the First Week in Lent
Our childhood imaginations open onto a world utterly different than this one, a world in which animals talk and people fly, a world of magic rings and lanterns you rub and get your wish. How obvious all this is to children! And how totally it all disappears as we lose faith in Santa Claus and the power of fairy dust –
And yet, we live in a world of “miracles.” We call them “scientific miracles” to be sure. But though most animals at least do not yet talk, people do fly, and much of the world –like the computer on which I am writing these words – would appear as nothing less than magical to our not so remote ancestors. And yet, and yet. We get used to this magic. I was blessed to fly across the Atlantic recently, but was shocked to find that in broad daylight, with the miracle of the world underneath us, the vast majority of windows were shut against that light so the passengers could keep watching the moving lights on the screens before them. How often does one get to see the mountains and snowfields of Greenland? The miracle of flight! Boring. It’s all boring, I suppose. We need more action on the screens before us! Miracles become banal –
But not true miracles, and not to the child’s heart, and it is only children that inherit the Kingdom of Heaven (Mt. 18:3). Miracles do happen, the saints speak to us. Not modern miracles, not medical miracles, not washday miracles: the children of the kingdom hope for miracles like perfect love, fidelity through death, the Kingdom of Heaven. A loving Father who forgives us all our wickedness through the wounds of His Son, our Brother. The hope of an eternity in perfect love. Let us ask and seek and knock until we are heard, and smilingly float above poor earth and its spurious miracles.
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.