Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Enriched in Every Way

I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in him you were enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge, as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.  1 Corinthians 1:4-7

“Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant, whom the master has put in charge of his household to distribute to them their food at the proper time?  Blessed is that servant whom his master on his arrival finds doing so.  Amen, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property.”  Matthew 24:45-47

“Too late have I loved you, O Beauty of ancient days, yet ever new! Too late I loved you! And behold, you were within, and I abroad, and there I searched for you; I was deformed, plunging amid those fair forms, which you had made. You were with me, but I was not with you. Things held me far from you—things which, if they were not in you, were not at all. You called, and shouted, and burst my deafness. You flashed and shone, and scattered my blindness. You breathed odors and I drew in breath—and I pant for you. I tasted, and I hunger and thirst. You touched me, and I burned for your peace” (St. Augustine, Confessions).

St. Augustine's writings remains (for me) dense and hard to understand – not because there is any lack of articles and books about him.  Rather, because his writing is hard to read through for me. Normally, I do not shy away from the intellectual-spiritual doctors of the church and other giants.  St. John of the Cross.  St. Benedict.  St. Ignatius.  Thomas Merton. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.  Dorothy Day.  Henri Nouwen.  But, my confession is that the Confessions of St. Augustine remain difficult to comprehend.  Daunting may be the right word.  Crazy as it sounds, I would rather pick up Kierkegaard than Augustine. 

His mother, St. Monica, whose feast day was yesterday, prayed for the conversion of her son who was distracted in the many perversions of his day.  In his youth and early adult years, Augustine was not always the “faithful and prudent” servant praised in today’s Good News.  It was not until he turned 36 years old before he was ordained.  But then he became a bishop by age 41!  The famous story is that as his mother prayed and cried for his conversion, he joined her in that prayer, but just not yet.

Whether or not you tackle City of God, the Confessions or the Homilies is your choice in study.  Eventually, we all will probably get that book off our shelves or from the library and use it in our study.  But for me, just not yet.

Much more accessible and understandable today are the daily comments and tweets of our @Pontifex.  Did you catch the list of things Pope Francis said made for a happy life?  Just when I thought my (and the world’s) amazement with Pope Francis had run its course, he did it again. In a long interview with an old friend who was writing for an Argentine magazine, the pope put forward a 10-point plan for happiness.  You can read his list here

How long until we see the book “All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Pope Francis?”  

In addition to this ten-point plan (almost sounds like something Woodrow Wilson would propose at Versailles), have you also noted all the articles on happiness?  In a frenetic, chaotic world with more and more separation between people, we often just want to wake up feeling good in the morning and we want to know how. There are essays and books filled with tips on achieving true happiness and bliss but one tip remains fairly consistent: expressing gratitude makes people feel good.

Maybe that is why the five days of gratitude (#gratitude challenge) is making its way around social media circles these days.  Maybe not as viral as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, the practice of appreciation is pretty awesome in that it can be done anywhere, at any time. You can write a list of specific things within a day that you’re grateful for (hello, education, people, fresh olives, Reese’s peanut butter cup ice cream or snow crab legs – just not all at the same time) or reach out and express your gratitude to others.  

For what and whom in this divine milieu are you grateful?  What makes you enriched in every way?

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