Catholic Soup is a food for thought blog based website designed to provide Catholic insight through personal experience.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Moving Will

Usually when we accomplish something we feel good about it, if we did not feel good about our accomplishments then there would be no reason to start. I think of my younger days when I would run up the water bill by leaving the waterhose on in the backyard to make a small river that trickled down from the patio all the way to the end of the yard. I would dig a small trench and make turns and curves for the water, make reservoirs where the water would gather then soon continue down the path I created. I tried so hard to keep the water from overflowing and out of control, I placed sticks and rocks to make it look authentic and then I would connect it all together, end to end to keep the water running. The fact is that when it was all done I was proud of what I had done, It was fun to watch, my toes got wet and muddy but it was an accomplishment in my eyes.

 In a bigger picture, in all eyes man has a moving will. Our will is moved primarily by Grace and secondarily our will may be moved by motivation, joy and even the outcomes that we foresee. What I mean by the will is our plan or our judgments of right and wrong, even our desire. God gives us free will, meaning we can choose to go left or right, we have the option to live a good life or a bad life. The reason why we have a moving will is because we do things, and we are moved. As humans we want to see the outcome, we want to see our accomplishments and we want to be happy and joyous because of them. Ultimately, God moves our will by the Grace he provides. God aids our will by his presence in our lives, and so it is by his aid of Grace that our will can be conformed to the will of His.
The past May I graduated from college, after four long collegiate years it is joyous yet at the same time, it is a reminder for me that God has moved and continues to move my own will. Free will is not so free, because God captivates by his love and Grace and He aids us to make the right moves in our lives. One Catholic musician by the name of Luke Spehar describes it well in a song he wrote, God as a Master chess player, knows every possible move, but plays the one that is best in fulfilling that goal. God in his love for us, wishes to move the will rather than the mind. This means that God wants to have an impact in our lives on helping us choose right over wrong, and good over bad. This is why we have goals in our lives. Today our lives are made up of 'finish lines' if you will. Finish lines like graduating high school, or graduating college, getting a new car, buying a new house, or learning that rainbow soccer trick. All of these are finish lines and goals, they are ends. The reason why we start in attempting to obtain these goals are well one, because we are naturally ordered to an end. We are naturally ordered to finish lines just like a flower is naturally ordered to full blossom and then on to it's withering, it is apart of life. The joy is that we have to work for these things and God allows us to work for these things, God allows us to strive for these goals, and He wants us to experience the joy in crossing that finish line. Since God desires to move the will, he allows it and aids it to be moved. If we are given perfect clarity in life and given no natural end then there is no practice in moving the will. If we know the outcome of our each and individual lives then it would harm the will, build up our pride and humble our minds.

So therefore, God in his love for us, allows us and aids us by his Grace in moving our will. As humans, we naturally have a moving will, that will is ultimately moving towards God. So when we accomplish something, recognize that God moves our will, He places motivation in us, He helps us be determined to accomplish, He helps us overcome adversity all by the help of His Grace and it is through all of this that our wills are being trained and moved to God.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

St. Francis: Man of Peace

These past few months, have been extremely Franciscan for me, by the help of Grace I am more drawn to the life of Saint Francis, who he is and what he did. With the help of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio taking on the name of Pope Francis after Saint Francis, I have became attracted more to who Saint Francis is and Pope Francis by the authority given to him by God, invites us to do the same. In the life of Saint Francis, he leaves us with a message of love and compassion. He leaves us with a message to follow Christ with immediate obedience and I think this is what makes the life of Francis so attractive. A few weeks ago, I picked up a book over Saint Francis and found myself so drawn to his life, pretty soon I found myself halfway through the book. There are a couple things that I think are the most profound and necessary in following Christ, especially through the Saint Francis lens.

1.) Saint Francis at a young age was thrown in prison because he left the army he had only been apart of for a day. He was left in the dark, the silence and the cold for over a year. The interesting thing is that Saint Francis in essence,  was formed and molded by the silence, much like the Apostle Paul. It was said that it was in the silence where  Francis found God and so when he was released from prison he was so wrapped up in the silence and the insight he got because of it! So much that he would even seek the silence and look for caves in the nearby mountains. The very thing that he was afraid of before he was now seeking out. Saint Francis new the impact the silence had on him, he wanted to hear the voice of Christ, he desired him and he wanted to now more about him, so he placed himself in the silence and the very darkness he was afraid of.

2.) Saint Francis before his conversion wanted desperatly to become a noble knight and fight for the king of the land. He knew it would give honor to his family, especially his wealthy father. One night in a dream, God spoke to him asking, "Francis, who is it better to serve, The Lord or a man?", without question, Francis said "The Lord" Francis then left his original desire to become a noble Knight to listen and harken to the voice that he had heard. While seeking out this voice in the caves, and in the silence, Francis came upon small run down church and began praying before the altar, with his hands outstretched. Suddenly a voice came from the cross of the altar that said, "Francis, rebuild my Church, because as you can see, it is in ruins." It is described that God spoke directly into the heart of Francis and immediately, Francis ran home, sold everything he owned to follow Christ.

3.) The last is one that I find to be very appealing even in my own life. Saint Francis was a care giver and he cared for everyone even those who were not cared for. The lesser, the sick, the imprisoned, the  naked and the leper. One day St Francis was off to the Courtyard of the king on his father's horse. He recognized a leper on the side of the road. In those days, a Leper would yell, "unclean! unclean!" as they are ringing a bell so that passer-byers would stay clear of them. Well this particular day, Francis got down from his high horse, which is symbolic of losing his pride and honorary status. As he got down, he gave him what little money he had left before he could walk away, Francis was became prompted by the spirit to hug this poor leper. So he did the unthinkable and gave him a hug, with no words exchanged, he got back on his horse, left and as he turned to wave goodbye, he noticed that there was never was anybody there. At that moment, Saint Francis knew that he did not just embrace a leper, but he was embracing Christ and professing not only a love for the leper, but a love for God.

I think the joy is that we are reminded to live a Franciscan lifestyle, one that involves the silence and it involves a little immediate obedience, maybe even some embracing. Embracing those who are lesser than we are and those who don't have anybody. Francis in his life, wanted to serve God the King of Kings, he wanted to know God in a perfect way. How he did it is was through serving those people in need, and listening in the silence where he was placed.  We are called to live in silence, not in noise, with the help of silence God becomes present to us and I think Saint Francis realized this and so he wanted more of it.