Why do we Fear ... Anything?
autem quoniam diligentibus Deum omnia cooperantur in bonum.”
“And we know that to them
that love God, all things work together unto good”
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:
fulfill within us perfectly His most holy will
— not ours.
make of us what pleases Him — not us.
do with us what pleases Him — not us.
give to us, as it pleases Him — not us.
take from us what pleases Him — not 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
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.
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.
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
“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