Trust in Him

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Saying and Doing

I have done this so that the words of the prophets may be fulfilled.
It is finished.

You will hear it said that to say is not to do... and many will exhort you against making promises that you cannot keep. They will tell you not to deceive yourself and others by pretending to be what you are not. They will tell you that saying you love the poor, or endorse some good charity, means nothing if you do not offer money... and that something is not important to you unless you have sacrificed some of your wealth or energy for that cause. Sometimes the value of words is pushed aside in the midst of this loud world with so many pressing demands for our actions. And yet, those who neglect to value words have chosen a very difficult and roundabout path for themselves.

When we go to Mass and praise God... we are offering worship to Him, and reinforcing our belief in His true presence and our faith in His words. We do not visibly see Christ in the Eucharist, and do not always feel that He has entered into us when we have received Him, and yet we profess to believe that it is truly He whom we receive. We cannot comprehend the words of God, and our reason does not understand what He has revealed to us... and yet we profess to believe in it, and God accepts this profession of faith, though there must always be traces of doubt in our hearts due to imperfect faith. We do not see God present during our prayer, nor do we see the choirs of angels, and yet we worship God and sing with all the angels His high praises. It may seem that our words and our song are falling merely on the ears of our fellows in the Church... yet we still say that we sing to God. When we thus profess through words what our minds and hearts do not naturally believe, we conquer our own hard hearts and wills and allow God's light and wisdom to enter into us.

Many times during prayer we pray in a way that we would not naturally pray to obtain some grace. For instance, I may be a hateful person and pray for Charity, hoping to obtain from God a virtue I do not already have. This is itself an act of Charity, just as to say I believe is an act of faith. When we pray at Mass, we say "Lord, I am not worthy to receive You... but only say the word, and I shall be healed." Perhaps we don't feel any particular guilt, or perhaps we don't really know if we can trust God's Divine Mercy, and yet in spite of ourselves, by saying these words, we have faith and receive God's healing touch. I was once asked why the psalms are recited when so often they do not pertain to our particular states in life... the words of the psalms tell the story of humanity's plight, humanity's needs and wants... they praise God for all He has done, and perpetuate the hand of God in history... they combine the past with the future needs, and thus apply the oblation of Redemption with all the needs of the world... and in doing this, by praying the words of the psalms, we are offering an acceptable prayer to God and a successful prayer for the needs of the world.

Saying what I do not feel, and praying for what I do not have, has always been one of the main resources of my spiritual life. One of the prayers I used often in my preteens went something like this: "Dear Jesus, I love you with my whole heart, mind, and soul... I will do anything for you, and I long to serve you, even to die for you. Help me to love you more, ignite my soul with the fire of your love so I may return your gift of love as my gift to you." At the time, I happen to know there were many other things I loved besides Jesus. I also know that my heart was not ready to serve God alone, to suffer for Him, or even to die for Him. And yet, this prayer is still on my lips, and I know now that God has heard my prayer, and has softened my stony heart at least a little.

Other prayers that I have often said have petitioned for wisdom, love of neighbor, the gift of discernment... I have even prayed for the desire to give all to God. Saying is not doing, but through saying in this manner I have come to do those things which I could not do before. By professing my faith and love for Christ, and asking Him to increase what I did not have, I know that my spiritual life has progressed from what it used to be. We cannot underestimate the value of words, or the value of prayer. If we trust God, we will ask Him for what we need, and we will ask Him to satisfy the needs of others. For those who have little to give, saying IS doing... praying, saying that you wish to help others, and asking God to grant your wish, is helping them. God knows that we can not come by heavenly graces, or the capacity to do good, on our own... and He freely gives them to us, if only we ask.

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