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Boston Catholic Journal  —  Critical Catholic Commentary in the Twilight of Reason



Why do we Fear ... Anything?


“Scimus autem quoniam diligentibus Deum omnia cooperantur in bonum.”
“And we know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good” (Romans, 8.28)


Absolutely nothing happens to us that God does not either expressly will — or permit — for our sanctification, for the salvation of our souls and the souls of countless others of whom we know nothing ... yet.

Understanding this, we should fear nothing, although we may not welcome everything.


Why ... Why, then, do we fear?

In the Pater Noster, the Our Father, given us by Christ Himself, we find seven petitions, but let us focus carefully on one in particular — Thy will be done on earth [that is to say, in everything pertaining to our lives] as it is in Heaven. — in an effort to answer this very real question:

Our prayer, our deepest desire — which is (or should be) the perfect accomplishment of God's most holy will within us (is there a greater good?) in other words, the fulfillment of our lives in Christ — is contained in this one single petition — in which every other petition is implicitly uttered. Let us look at what we are asking of God in this petition:

  • That God fulfill within us perfectly His most holy will — not ours.

  • That He make of us what pleases Himnot us.

  • That He do with us what pleases Himnot us.

  • That He give to us, as it pleases Himnot us. 1

  • That He take from us what pleases Himnot us.

  • That in our suffering, in union with Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane — even here we ask that He fulfill within us perfectly His most holy will — not as we will, but as He wills. 2


Divine Complicity

Once we have prayed this — ex toto corde, completely from the heart — our life is no longer our own. It never was, but we have made it explicit to ourselves. And upon praying this, our lives, together with the world around us, change forever. We have entered into a compact with God, into the very will of God which is the act of God; in a word, into Divine complicity.

Everything, then, that subsequently touches upon us: all that we experience, all that we suffer, all that we endure — everything: our state in life, our poverty no less than our wealth, our illness no less than our health, our adversities no less than our good fortune, our ill-repute for His Name no less than our honor among men, the cardboard over our head no less than the stately roof, the shabby clothes no less than the elegant, the suffering no less than the joy, the ridicule no less than the accolades — all, all, we offer to Him, accept from Him with equal gratitude … knowing that they come to us from Him; that whatever our condition in life, it is His will being mysteriously fulfilled within us. This conviction, often painfully at odds with the suffering within us and around us … is the great actus Fidei, or Act of Faith against all the apparent evidence that contradicts it. We do not understand what has become of us and we can adduce no reason or purpose — yet in holy simplicity and docility we accept in faith that it is the very best thing possible for us — even as it apparently contradicts what appears to be good for us. It is, in a word, total submission to the will of God in all things; the taking of all things from the hand of God: the bitter as eagerly as the sweet, realizing that we know nothing of what is good for us apart from the express will of God revealed to us in Holy Scripture, and the Teachings of Holy Mother the Church.

Not yet

It may never be revealed to us in this life — but revealed it will be, for die we must and after death, arrive at understanding. This hopelessly entangled skein of misery, suffering, and misfortune — only punctuated by fleeting moments of respite, too brief to attain to any sustainable happiness — this dense reticulation of calcified knots, grown tighter by the years, unyielding to the probe of reason — all these utterly involuted complexities will unfold as so many segments in the history of our lives being drawn by the finger of God upon the fabric of eternity. We do not understand any of them until we see the whole which has been configured through them in the soul’s cooperating with God in the dispensation of all things.

If, as Saint Paul tells us, we cooperate with God in all things, it is quite beside the point that we understand them, and very much to the point that we accept them, play our part in them, all-unknowing but still all-cooperating. Our lives are as so many golden threads amid a myriad of others, and docilely we allow the hand of God to weave this thread where He wills and how He wills. The moment we resist the hand of God, tension ensues, and the whole fabric trembles under it. Countless millions, billions, of other golden threads are affected in places, times, regions, utterly remote to us and unknown by us.

Who among us can presume to follow to its utter end the concatenation of events that are put in motion by the simplest act of a man? It moves in unanticipated permutations that reverberate throughout the universe. Every act is an exponential unto itself, and every subsequent movement as it courses through time touches upon, changes, deflects, directs, and in a thousand ways influences the lives of others in ways unguessed — and until the end of time as hidden in Christ as our very lives.3


Boston Catholic Journal


1  “Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: as it hath pleased the Lord so is it done: blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1.21)

2 “And going a little further, he fell upon his face, praying, and saying: My Father, if it be possible, let this chalice pass from me. Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Saint Matthew 26.39)

3 Colossians 3.3

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Scio opera tua ... quia modicum habes virtutem, et servasti verbum Meum, nec non negasti Nomen Meum 
I know your works ... that you have but little power, and yet you have kept My word, and have not denied My Name. (Apocalypse 3.8)


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