However, there is an another, subtle thread that may rise from them, whispering in the elusive folds of the individual mind, welding down into and around and through the conscience, like a touch of flavor, scent or slight shade of color, and in the end, diminishing the impact, until the intent of each author is lost in the myriad of other distractions in our lives. Rogation days, spiritual directors, beauty and truth, and final judgments. Ho hum, and the magazine closes to take its place on the stack in the garage.
The common subtle thread may have sounded something like this: “People walking through town and out into their fields, carrying crosses or sticks to beat one another over boundary disputes? Three days out of their busy schedules without productive work?”
“A spiritual director? How could anyone submit themselves to the inflated self-indulgent opinions of another person? No one knows me or my needs as well as I do!”
“Good Lord, I’ve seen and heard the kind of artwork and music some of these so-called experts tout as ‘beauty,’ and, frankly, I don’t get it. Nothing but a distraction. I know what I like, and besides, who has time anymore for art. Five minutes into any museum and I’m bored.”
“Particular and general judgments? Eternal punishment? What does this have to do with me? I’m a good person, go to Mass, don’t steal or look overly long at things I shouldn’t. Guess this article was for someone else.”
If it were possible to record and compare the accent of statements like those above, as they passed through the minds of some readers, one might recognize a voice of one we’ve been warned to resist: “Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings” (1 Pt 5:8-9). That last line is a word of confirmation and encouragement: we all experience this same kind of suffering, this spiritual temptation to discount and ignore anything that might help us grow in humility and union with Christ.
You may have heard this inner voice as you sat in Mass or before the Blessed Sacrament; you may have felt this tempting whisper as you prayed the Liturgy of the Hours or the Rosary; you may sense it every time you’re inspired to do anything out of love for God and neighbor, for the adversary would do anything to stunt your spiritual growth.
Maybe before you throw this magazine onto the pile in the garage, take a few more minutes to reread each article, asking yourself, what is it in this article that will help me grow closer to my Lord and His Church?
Am I blind to how much God is intimately involved with every aspect of my life? Would I be grateful enough of His constant love and care to spend three entire days away from work walking throughout my town praising and worshipping God? Am I blind to my own sense of self-sufficiency, to how much I could benefit through the advice and guidance of a spiritual director?
To what extent is my spiritual life constricted by my inability or unwillingness to recognize the fingerprints of God in the artistic beauty around me?
To what extent am I complacent about my need to grow in holiness, to be prepared, if called, to stand face to face with my God tonight? Would I stand before him without embarrassment, or in shame?
May we each listen more closely, not to the whispers of our adversary, but to the still, small voice of our loving, caring Father. TCA
Marcus C. Grodi is host of the popular EWTN program "The Journey Home" and president of the Coming Home Network International. Contact him at email@example.com