by Father Daniel Considine, 1950’s
Pure Gold for God
When we look back upon the huge pile of our past works, may we not fitly borrow the imagery of St Paul and ask ourselves how much of it is likely to abide the trial of fire, how much of it was “wood and hay and stubble-trifles”, vanity, or worse, and how much gold, silver, and precious stones?
St Philip Neri used to say pleasantly with regard to spiritual reading that he liked the works, that is, the books of people whose names began with S, that is, of Saints.
Suppose we were to take S as signifying not Saints but Self, to how many bundles of our past labors should we not have to attach the label S, Selfish, done for ourselves, for our own comfort, our own glorification, our own advantage. And, I much fear, how quickly and how brightly they would burn.
How many of our witty but unkind sayings, how much of our uncharitableness, how much of our conceit, would crackle there! We may hope indeed that the fire would spare us something, would respect at least a few objects in that vast collection.
What are the “gold and silver” and ”precious stones” of life? Here and there after the conflagration we pick up some articles over which the flames have no power, in some instances slightly blackened perhaps, because our motives have not been quite pure, but yet substantially intact and unharmed.
What are these jewels? Sorrows patiently borne, injuries not resented, humble, gentle, kindly thoughts and words and deeds – above all the pure gold, which no fire can tarnish, of deeds done wholly for the love of God.
The Child Jesus
The Child Jesus was the flowering of the Root of Jesse; in Him the Godhead dwelt corporeally; to Him, therefore, there could be wanting nothing of life’s opening loveliness, and fragrance, and grace.
He came to make Himself known to men, and He chose His own method of doing so. He would introduce Himself to us at His own time and in His own fashion; and every circumstance should serve to tell us more about Him, to make it clearer to us how He wishes us to think of Him, and in what way to treat Him.
A child does not love ceremony; in fact, it does not understand it. It knows nothing of the distinctions of wealth and class; it welcomes all because it believes all to be its friends.
There is one lifting of the veil, one Divine intimation, one hint, if we may so call it, how God desires to be regarded. He has bowed the heavens and come down to earth, not in search of pomp and parade – the courtiers He summoned were shepherds keeping the night watches over their flocks; the entrance of the cave was open to all corners as to the midnight air.
What are the qualities of a child?
First of all, love for its parents, affection, affectionateness.
It is worthwhile dwelling a little on this affectionateness, this disposition to love, this quick response to affection shown Him by others, which was a characteristic of the Child Jesus. If it truly be a mark of Him as He is, and as He wishes us to know Him, it ought to have an important bearing upon our service of Him.
If affectionateness is the first sign of a good child, perhaps we may rank docility as the second. Docility, as we know, simply signifies teachableness, readiness to be taught, a willingness to learn.
Indocility, unteachableness, is a hindrance to human knowledge. How much more to Divine! The difficulty is not that God is not willing to teach us, but that we are not willing to learn.
We do not know ourselves, our own weakness, our own pressing needs, our own greatest dangers; we live, as far as our souls are concerned, in a sort of fool’s paradise, and how can we expect to know the Infinite God?
He Himself alone can manifest Himself to us, for He is above our human searching out; and yet He cannot allow His Divine Light to stream into our souls because we are too proud to be taught. Our self-caused darkness is so thick that we do not feel the need of, we do not crave for, light.
It will be some kind of preparation for docility in the things of God, after the pattern of the Divine Child, if we strive to gain more docility in the affairs of our daily life.
More deference to others, less insistence on our own opinions, a more real effort to enter into others’ minds, to understand why they view things so differently from ourselves; such a training in humility, charity, and fellow-feeling will bring us very near to the Divine Child who was so loving to all, and who, though Infinitely Wise, did not disdain to go to school to His own imperfect creatures on earth.
The wisdom and training you give to your child will determine the outcome. It is not the time to give in to weariness, indifference, laziness or careless neglect. Their souls are in your hands…. Painting by Tasha Tudor
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