My Wisdom, or God’s?
On October 5, the Daily Mass readings focused on being joyful in light of God’s precepts and Gospel. As part of my regular practice to improve meditative and lengthy prayer, I looked at the readings and prayed throughout Mass about how to practically apply them.
This practice has had multiple benefits. I get far more out of Mass. I’m able to more fully incorporate little bits of wisdom gained throughout the day and week. And it’s been of tremendous value to see how the Church incorporates both Tradition and Scripture for the best relationship with God.
The one struggle with this approach has been the “practical” application of some readings. I’m a very concrete person. I do well with logic, straightforward approaches to problems, and math — not so well with art, music, and the subtleties of body language. As a teenager, I was bored within five minutes when my family visited Niagara Falls.
Many readings have very little real-world application, as they seem to only apply to some of the Mysteries of Heaven. I’ve often recognized that the Mysteries of Heaven are the epitome of the “practical” aspects of being a Christian … and yet I’m unable or unwilling to “walk on the water,” if you will.
This conflict thankfully did not exist on October 5. Each of the readings and the Psalms were clear in their message — that joy should come from hearing the Word of God. His “law” is “perfect,” His “precepts … are right.”
Okay, So What?
One of the first things I realized after getting married in August was that Hollywood had lied to me, and that cleaving to my wife didn’t make me feel any different. Where was the neon sign showing me that we were one person? Where were the feelings which Hollywood had assured me would come?
Thankfully, I married someone whose complementarity covers this particular weakness. My wife’s unwavering focus on incorporating our lives has put me to shame. Also thankfully, I was warned by our priest that I would face this challenge in marriage.
My wife was next to me during Mass on October 5. As I reflected on the readings, I asked myself what should be bringing me joy. It’s certainly not the falsehoods of sex embodied by Hollywood. It’s certainly not the day-to-day emotions which are influenced by food, hormones, work schedule, spiritual warfare, or the weather.
Of course, then it hit me. The Lord tells us to follow his law – and his law is that I am now one person with my wife. It’s that which should bring me joy and happiness – her willingness to get up early and make me breakfast. Her most recent job as a night-shift nurse, which was incredibly hard on her sleep, eating and exercise schedules. Her acceptance of my antsy personality, despite which she married me and works hard to understand.
St. Paul wrote that love is not selfish, etc. He’s right. That’s from where my joy at God’s precepts and law should be coming. A full trust in His Providence, embodied at least partially in my relationship with my wife.
Trusting God Until I Have To
The disciple with whom I most readily identify with is Peter. The first Pope was an impulsively loyal man who frequently ran into the barriers of his own limitations (think sinking in the water and the three denials). Loyalty to Christ was easy for Peter until he had to have faith.
Marriage was really easy for me until I actually had to do it. Likewise, it’s really easy to follow the “practical” teachings of Jesus until the most “practical” application of all — full trust — is called for.
The only choice is to trust God and allow His Grace to let me see the joy in His precepts and laws.