St Francis Q&A

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Be friends with believers

DC 'Hood at Holy Redeemer, Friday, June 5, 6:30 pm. The game will be outdoors (9705 Summit Avenue, Kensington, Md 20895) and is the make-up game of last week's rainout. Go 'Hood!
“But we can elude God if we choose to ignore Him, can't we? Isn't that why Hell exists?”

This comment from an anonymous blogger was in response to my post on April 24, “Hound of Heaven”. Yes, we can choose to elude God. “Elude” is an interesting word. The dictionary defines it as meaning “to avoid or escape by speed, cleverness, trickery, etc.” It would take an awful lot of speed, cleverness, trickery, etc. to elude God in this life. That’s what people who have experienced the “Hound of Heaven” have found. No matter how much they try to avoid Him or His goodness, He is still there seeking them. He is there in their experiences, He is there through other people, He is there in their minds and hearts. St Theresa of Avila once said that Jesus is always speaking to us, the question is are we listening?

So, it takes a lot of work to elude God in this life! He is all around us. His grace is present in all things but sin. I guess for someone to totally avoid Him in this life, they would have to remain in sin constantly which I don’t think is possible. Obviously, someone can choose to enter into a state of mortal sin and never leave it in this life; then, they would experience the catastrophe of being away from God and all that is good for all eternity in the state of Hell. But, God seeks those who are in mortal sin. He hounds them! He hounds all of us sinners! Anyone who doubts that should take one look at a Crucifix. Take a look at the Old Testament and see how many times God reaches out to His people in mercy and love. Take a look at a line for Confession and see how God’s Grace has moved people to confess their sins and reconciled with God and the Church. His grace is all around us, even when we have been eluding Him in sin.

We can liken this whole question to a student in school. A student can elude getting a passing grade on a test. Let’s say that the student has received all kinds of help in passing the test. The teacher has taught the material every day for weeks, reviewed the material several times just before the test, basically given the students the questions for the test, and gone out of his/her way to even tutor the individual student. The student’s friends have offered to help study with him. There is help for the student at every turn. It would take an awful lot of work for him not to pass the test! It would involve a lot of avoidance and escape by speed, cleverness, trickery, etc. Even though we don’t understand their intentions, some students do elude all the help to do well in school and some people elude all the help to experience God’s love in life.

Now, there are extraordinary situations where students in school or people in life are really trying to get it but just can’t. This is where some of our bloggers are. They are trying to find God, but can’t. They have tried Adoration, daily Mass, daily prayer, Scripture, this blog…the works. Still, they have no experience of God’s presence. It’s kind of like the student who can’t get the material. He just doesn’t get it. Well, what if the problem is the students with whom he’s studying. What if they don’t get the material themselves? They might even think they get it, but really don’t. I would tell him to study with other kids – the smart kids. Hang out with students who get it. I would give similar advice to bloggers who are struggling to find God: be friends with believers. Talk to and pray with devout Catholics. Be with people who pray, live the Gospel, are devoted to the Eucharist, go to Confession regularly, are God-fearing men or women, etc. It’s so important for all of us to be with people who build up our faith, not tear it down, especially for people who are struggling to find God. Good friends can be a huge source of help and support with faith. We all need support from others to live our faith. It’s virtually impossible for someone to live faith when they are regularly with people who don’t believe just like it’s virtually impossible for students to do well in school when they regularly study with people who don’t pass tests.


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