by Sister Helen Weston SJC

The Will of God! Four small words, none of them containing more than four letters but, together, impacting on the attentive mind and listening heart with the magnetic  force of something awesome, intangible, immutable, all-encompassing, all-creating but uncreated, shaping the life and destiny of all men and women in time and in eternity, terrifying yet utterly true, loving and good.

The Will of God is the Will of the One who, scripture tells us, says that he knew us, individually, “when we were being fashioned in the depths of the earth,” the One “who knit us together in our mothers' womb” and who, with love and compassion, “holds us, always, in the palm of His hand.” It is The Will of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Blessed Trinity, utterly and completely "Other" yet indwelling in us, poor mortals, adopted brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ through Baptism, absent only when mortal sin replaces that life of Grace in our souls with Satan's death-dealing presence.

There is food for a lifetime of meditation, contemplation and worship of mind and heart contained in these truths of our Faith taught by our Church over two millennia, believed in and lived by Catholics worldwide, giving birth to general holiness of life and even numerous canonized saints. Sadly, a 'famine of the Word of God' affecting two to three generations has left to-days' men, women and especially children in such ignorance of the treasures of our Faith that the reality of their dependence on God's Will for their very existence and for their lives in general has never been part of their everyday thinking, let alone a vital influence in their life-style. In God's providential mercy, however, through these years of absence of sound doctrinal teaching from pulpit and school, the essence of the gospel Good News of salvation lived on in families throughout Ireland where "God willing", "Welcome be the Will of God."  "God's Will be done" "God willed it" continued to be the response to happy, or sad, or unexpected events in the lives of parents and grandparents and passed on to their adult children. In this spontaneous acceptance of God's Will in their lives, they were completely, subconsciously, at one with Jesus in his union with the Father:  "My food is to do the Will of the one who sent me and to finish his work"  (Jn 4:34) "For this is the Will of my Father who sent me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him will have eternal Life and I will raise him up on the Last Day."(Jn 6:40) That they were and still are, more consciously now as they age, very much at home with the promise of Jesus that they would have eternal life and see the Face of the Father after death is the fruit of lives lived according to the Will of their Creator, from love of the Mass and the Presence of our Saviour in the Tabernacle. In His Will they have found peace, not peace as given by the world but his Peace as he promised.

These Catholic men and women of earlier times are a leaven in a society now defying God's Will in its laws and practices and a stranger to peace of any kind, made desolate by incalculable suicides, murders, drug-dealing, gang warfare, broken families, and now abortion and sodomy. The men and women of the famine of God's Word have never learned to 'think in their hearts' about the meaning and purpose of the life they have been given in which to know their Creator, love and serve Him and live forever in his company in the after-life in which they do not now believe. Are they at peace?  If you asked them would they say to you: "What is peace?" as Pilate once asked Jesus: "What is Truth?" What would you answer?  For a start: "Can you live with yourself?  With your conscience? Are you happy? Be ready for a bewildered "What is conscience?" And for a query: "What is happiness?" Have an answer ready for that one. The latest numbing media news rates suicides in Ireland at an average of ten every day. No one dare be apathetic or un-appalled in face of such tragedy.

Fr. Hannon, one-time chaplain to St. Mary's Hospital in the Phoenix Park, used tell the residents at every Mass: "There is one thing God cannot do: He cannot tell a lie." He would then remind them of what Jesus said about suffering: "Shoulder my cross and follow me and you will find peace for your soul because the cross I send you is light and it is easy." Our Novice Mistress had a novel way of interpreting this advice of Jesus for us, which I've never forgotten because experience bore witness to its validity. She would raise the index finger of her left hand and place the index finger of right hand alongside it and as she did so she would say: "God's Will and my will, side by side, perfect harmony". Then she would place the right index finger across the left one and say: "God's Will and my will at loggerheads - there's the cross and it is of my own making."  The cross I do not want becomes bearable when I remember that God wills only what is for my good, accept that cross and trust Him to help me bear it. One of the novices commenting on this afterwards remarked: "I like the word:"shoulder" because if you give a load a good 'hoosh' up on to your shoulder you can manage to carry it, but if you let it drag behind you it will bump, bump along and cause you much more suffering. So, girls: up on the shoulder with it."  Father Hannon was right, Jesus told the truth when he said: My yoke is easy and my burden is light. Our particular cross may be a heavy one but the attitude we bring to carrying it lightens the burden and even makes it seem easy because Jesus is bearing it with us. The trouble is that young people have rarely been told this news or the fact that suffering, rejection, disillusion is part and parcel of life on earth and that they must just get used to that and build up a strategy for dealing with set-backs. Jesus and the Gospels provide the strategy and the motivation and the example for this. Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary, as a man experienced all three and more and saw in all things the Will of His Father for the salvation of sinful men and women. 


Jesus' mental agony in Gethsemane, the Stations of the Cross and Calvary meditated upon slowly and attentively gradually reveal the involvement of the Father in the Passion and death of his Son and the insights we gain from this revelation can be profound and have lasting effect on our lives. In Gethsemane Jesus sweats blood at the mental vision he has of what awaits him over the next day and in anguish seeks the company of the three apostles he had brought with him, only to find them asleep. But his Father, knowing his torment, sends an angel to strengthen him - not comfort him - strengthen him. He does the same for us when he asks us to bear watching the havoc wrought by a terminal illness in a loved one, bear our own illnesses, the death of loved ones or our own approaching death. We are not usually alone in bearing these crosses but Jesus was completely alone for the first three Stations as he is falsely accused, mocked, jeered at and condemned to die, when they load the cross-bar of the cross onto his bleeding shoulders and scourged body and when he falls under their rough handling for the first time. There is not a friend or loving face anywhere in sight. But from the 4th Station to the 9th inclusive his heavenly Father lets him know that he has not abandoned him. When his heartbroken mother stands before him, his grief at her suffering must have been intense. But as he continues his stumbling journey he knows now that amongst the hostile crowd and the gloating Pharisees there is his sinless mother whose love wraps him in its warmth and follows him to the end. Then there is Simon: The callous soldiers, fearful lest Jesus die on the journey, push in a reluctant stranger, Simon of Cyrene to help him. It is now Jesus who silently wraps Simon in his love as he takes the cross-bar from his shoulders and carries it, a changed man no doubt, to the end. Further on a woman named Veronica, also a stranger, moved by compassion, ignores the threatening soldiers, takes off her veil and wipes the blood and sweat from Jesus' face and eyes. When she looks at the veil later on she finds that same face looking back at her, stamped on it by Jesus, never outdone in kindness and generosity. Further on some other women are waiting and weeping. Jesus sees them and speaks to them and gives them a prophetic warning about the future of Jerusalem which has rejected him. To this day Veronica, Simon and the women of Jerusalem are remembered every time the Stations of the Cross are prayed. This God of ours remembers and rewards even the smallest act of love or sacrifice. Jesus is pulled roughly onwards and falls again, flat on his face, this time almost at the point of death. He is yanked to his feet, Simon is dismissed, Jesus, alone again, is crucified, the Cross, bearing his tortured body is raised on high and his three hours of fierce agony begin. The moment the soldiers sit down to dice for his clothes his mother and John and relatives of his mother gather around the cross and remain with him until he dies.

These five episodes on the way to Calvary tell their own tale as we meditate before them. God is not remote or detached from his creation, as some would have us believe but involved in it down to the smallest detail, aware of our every movement, our every thought, every suffering and joy, even intervening in them when we need his help. He never lets us be tempted or suffer beyond endurance. As He acted towards the Son whose only desire was to do His Will, so will He act with us, his adopted sons and daughters as we struggle to conform our wills to his, in the knowledge that, in the end, this will alone will bring us a peace the world cannot give. We need to give time and space to engrave this truth on our hearts and above all we need to pray to understand its importance.  It was when Jesus was praying that the apostles, struck by something about him, said: "Master, teach us to pray as John taught his followers to pray" Jesus did so but his prayer was a pattern for all prayer in its composition as well as in the words.

 

Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name.

Thy Kingdom come.

Thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven………

Give us today our daily bread

And forgive us our sins

As we forgive those who sin against us.

Let us not fall into temptation

But deliver us from the evil one.

Our relatives and friends and all who are in the bliss of Heaven are doing the Father's Will in their happiness.

Jesus tells us that to do and accept his Father's Will for us on earth is a foretaste of the happiness of the blest.

 

PRAYER

Give me, O Holy Spirit, the courage to pray this prayer and mean it.

If you will have me to be in light, may you be blessed

If you will have me to be in darkness, may you be equally blessed.

If you mercifully comfort me may you be blessed

If you will that I be afflicted may you be equally blessed.

Keep me from all sin and I shall fear neither death nor hell.

So long as you do not blot me out of the Book of Life

Nor abandon me forever, no tribulation which befalls me will hurt me

Because in all things I place my trust in your Merciful and Sacred Heart.

 . 

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