• The next Dads’ Prayer Group meeting will be on Sunday, March 17, at 7:00 PM, in the Perpetual Help classroom.
• Remember that the non-refundable down payment for next school year is due by March 20.
• Third Quarter Oral Exams are March 18-22.
• Some of our archery team members will be competing this Saturday.
• Our next baseball game is: March 19, Thursday, at 3:15 PM, at St. Michael’s.
The saints and doctors of the Church teach us that the event which we just heard about in today’s Gospel had been planned by our Blessed Lord in order to encourage His disciples, so that when they would later see Him going through His bitter Passion, they would quickly recall this moment, and be assured of the heavenly glory which He would finally obtain. In other words, Christ placed before their eyes a bit of heaven in order to let them know that this was both His and their final goal. Our Lord always wants us to keep our eyes fixed on this final goal, fixed on the things above; and while He does not appear to each of us in His radiant glory in order to capture our attention, He does have another method which He uses, one which might seem at first glance to be quite contradictory, but as always, our Lord knows what He is doing.
Christ is so powerful that He can make use even of evil for the sake of good. Not that good comes from evil, and not that He wills evil to happen to us; but He uses the bad as an opportunity for good. And Christ is so loving that He has done and will do whatever it takes in order to save us, even something as crazy as dying on the Cross for us. And not only that, He will even put us up on the Cross with Himself if that’s what it takes to raise our minds to heaven—and that’s usually what it takes. And so the way He often focuses our minds on heaven, is by allowing us to undergo a little bit of hell on earth.
A common question we often hear when someone’s suffering is, “What wrong did I do to deserve this?” Or, from the more devout soul, not a question, but the declaration, “I’m suffering for my sins.” Well, that might be true, since we all have sins to suffer for. But perhaps God is allowing you to undergo some trial here on earth simply in order to raise your mind to heaven.
If we look at our life, or if we look at just about any of the books of the Old Testament, we will quickly be reminded of the cold hard fact, that when people are suffering they usually pray a whole lot more. We see over and over again in the Scriptures the same sequence: the Israelites undergo suffering, so they storm heaven with their prayers and fasting; then God shows His mercy to them, grants them many good things. And what do they do? They turn their minds to this world alone and forget all about God. Or look at some parts of the world in our own day. Now it’s certainly good that the communists are no longer ruling over Eastern Europe, but at the same time one has to wonder whether the people in those countries are still praying now as much as they used to. Religious and priestly vocations in most of those counties are not up, but down. Ironic as it might seem, when we are going through hell, we think more of heaven. And when we are filled to overflowing with the goods things of this life, we tend to forget that Supreme Giver of all good gifts. And so God often, usually daily, sends us a little suffering to remind us that our ultimate joy is not in this world, but in the next.
There is a famous quote, recently made even more famous by a popular country song, that says, “If you’re going through hell, keep on going.” God sometimes, oftentimes, allows us to go through a little hell, so to speak, here below, to make sure we keep on going towards heaven, to make sure we fix our desires on the things above. Another comment we sometimes hear when someone is having a bad day, or a bad month or year, is “I’m beginning to feel like Job.” Well, that’s good, because Job prayed a lot and constantly desired the next life. Salomon, on the other hand, had everything a man could want in this life, and so was too busy with “other things” to
care about his salvation.
Some of you might be familiar with the famous cry of St. Augustine: Lord, You called out, You shouted, You broke through my deafness. One of God’s favorite ways of breaking through our deafness is a healthy dose of suffering. Like St. Paul, who had to be blinded before he converted; or St. Norbert, whom God had literally to throw down into the mud in order to raise up his heart, so we often, usually daily, need even just a little dose of hell on earth, to remind us that it is heaven we ought to keep our eyes fixed on. It’s no wonder that St. Norbert’s favorite topic for sermons was the joys of heaven, for he was constantly suffering hellish trials.
We must remember that God is motivated, so to speak, in all that He does, by love. He loves us more than we even love ourselves. Recall what our Lord once said to the people of Jerusalem: Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how often I would have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! We also oftentimes do not God to pull us near to Himself. We too tend to fill our hearts with the things of this world and leave no room for Christ. But God’s love is greater than are foolishness. God’s love is so immense that He does not cease, as long as there is still blood flowing through our veins, to chase us down, so to speak. He wants so much to be our all, that He shouts through our deafness, shakes us up, knocks us down, even gives us a taste of hell in order that we might desire heaven more, in order that we might stop looking for complete happiness here and completely surrender our heart to Him.
As we begin this Lenten Season, and as we continue through life, let us strive to see every little and every big trial as yet another gentle reminder from our Lord to raise our minds to heaven, to make more space in our hearts for Him, to die to this world, that we might live with Him forever.
• For all the benefactors of St. Michael’s Preparatory School, living and deceased.
• For all the students and families of St. Michael’s Preparatory School.
• For all faculty and staff of St. Michael’s Preparatory School.
• For the Sturkie Family’s very special intention.
• For the Church.