Lectio Divina 03/20/2020

The daily Mass readings for today can be found here, at the USCCB.

What, or who, is my god? (my small g-o-d god?) The prophet Hosea says, “We shall say no more, ‘Our god,’ to the work of our hands; for in you the orphan finds compassion.” It is in God alone that we find our peace, not in things of this world.  It is in God alone, and His will for us, that we find our purpose.  What has been the work of our hands?  Has it been to serve Him in all things?  I don’t know about you, but I have many g-o-d-s.  My phone, my comfortable couch, Oreo cookies, to name just a few.  These are the things that I allow to take over my life at times.  Certainly they take me away from what is really important.  I become a slave to them as they distract me, demand my attention, and direct my thoughts towards things that ‘feel’ good.  They’re not bad in themselves, but they can, if I let them, become little g-o-d-s. 

In reference to my first blog post, our first freedom is really to choose our attitude at any moment.  We can substitute the word direction for attitude.  Is the direction of my thoughts towards the will of God? This is the first principle —  to slow down enough in order to ask the Holy Spirit, “What is Your will for me, Lord?” Then I am to listen.  Then I am to hear.  Then I am to obey (cf Ps 81:13). Is it in the Lord that my orphan spirit finds compassion?  If our choices are in this direction, the prophet Hosea assures us that we will bear fruit, our paths will be straight, and we will prosper.  If only we would listen! (cf Ps 81:8).

It is simple, isn’t it?  I say this tongue in cheek, of course.  Repenting, loving ourselves, and loving our neighbor cannot be done without a Savior, without His Spirit first placed in us via Baptism.  It is through Him, with Him, and in Him that we even have the capacity to approach the glory that God intended for His creation — the straight paths, the “fame of the wine of Lebanon” (Hos 14:8d).  We are the pinnacle of His creation; to love Him with all our heart, understanding, and strength is to will it first (by His grace!).  Once we understand this concept, we “are not far from the Kingdom” (Mk 12:33).  It is God’s desire to share His glory with us!  In directing our own will towards His will, “..we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, [will be] transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.  For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor 3:18).

Amen. Jesus, I trust in You.

The First Freedom

“There is a liberty deep within man that was aptly described by psychologist Viktor Frankl, a survivor of Auschwitz: ‘…everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way’ (Viktor Emil. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning [New York: Pocket Books, 1984], 86). The element of choice is one thing that separates man from materials that follow the laws of physics. Man’s intellect and will allow him the capacity of ‘viewing [objects that are good and desirable] in the light of truth and so adopting an independent attitude to them. Without this faculty man would inevitably be determined by them: these goods would take possession of him and determine totally the character of his actions and the whole direction of his activity’ (Wojtyła, Love and Responsibility, 115).”

This is a paragraph from my Thesis, completed in 2018. I think Frankl’s views, as a survivor of Auchwitz, are important to keep in mind during this health crisis. Our attitudes towards life and one another are of paramount importance, and will ultimately see us through. What is it that takes possession of our thoughts? Is it how much money we are losing? Is it worry over our next meal? Concern over toilet paper?

Or is it concern about the people in our midst, who have been given to us as our family and friends? Their mere presence is a gift. They are an image of God with us, Emmanuel. We have the freedom to choose this thought at any moment. It is a thought that will bear fruit.

Amen. Jesus, I trust in You.