Providence, Causes, and Humility

All existence and all good that things possess, whether they be of free will or of grace, have been given by the hand of God, who preserves it. Therefore, the soul recognizes that it is more possible to say that God is in them and works good in them than that they themselves do these things. It is not that they do not work, but that they are secondary causes, moved by God, the principal and universal Maker, from whom they have the power to work. Looking at them, the soul does not find value or support in the things themselves, but in the infinite Being that sustains them.
Saint John of Ávila

On this Tempestuous Sea

Since your condition obliges you to roll on the tempestuous sea of this world, try never to swallow its waters, but drink rather those of Divine grace, turning in all your needs with a loving, filial trust to the Source of Mercy. Love above all else, and fear to displease, the God of sovereign goodness who alone can make you happy both here and hereafter.
Saint Jane Frances de Chantal

Reasons to Go to the Feast

I’ve written once or twice about early Muslim mystics who seem to have actually come into a love-relationship with a very Personal God. Here’s another such post. (Note that posts in this vein are not to be taken to mean that the fulness of revelation, and indeed of mystical experience, can be found outside the Catholic Church. They simply serve to show that God gives his love freely.)

Yahya ibn Mu’adh al-Razi (830–871) was a Sufi mystic in Central Asia. He has this beautiful phrase attributed to him:

What a difference there is between him who goes to the feast for the feast’s sake and him who goes to it to meet the Beloved!

And so it must be. There are several ways to apply this saying. Probably the way most congenial to Yahya’s thought itself would be that of the person fulfulling religious duties. Yahya was extremely dedicated and conscientious in religious duties. This was not out of fear, nor our of habit, nor out of any emphasis on the duties for the duties’ sake; it was rather because there, in religious duties, he “went to meet the Beloved.”

Extending that insight into a Christian framework, we may then think of the religious duty that is the “Sunday obligation.” We go to the Eucharistic meeting of the faithful every week. How do we participate in the Eucharist? Is it to meet the Beloved?

The same could be said of our other duties, when we go to “the feast” in the world, wherever that may be. Do we go to a real feast or a real party? Do we go to work and enjoy that? Do we spend some time in recreation? Well, in such situations, too, are we able to go to it to meet the Beloved? After all, as Christians, we know the Beloved is truly present in the providence of events and asking to peek through the veils that cover each human being. Are we trying to meet him, even in these worldly feasts? Is that our motivation?

There are so many different times and places can we go to “the feast,” not for the feast’s sake primarily, but to meet the Beloved. And how different that makes the entire world we experience! May we grow more and more in this reality of going to meet the Beloved in all his beautiful unveilings and “disguises.”

Little Cactus

cactusflower

Little cactus sitting still
Waiting for a watering
Never have you known He will
Rain on you again

But it really is not rain
For the Master chooses it
Chooses when to turn the main
Drench you to the brim

So this dryness is from Him
You accept it and you wait
But it hurts for light is dim
No water at night

Long since flowers grew on you
Long since you could give them Him
Nothing blooms and nothing’s new
But the choice is His