Our Fallen Condition

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I spend an awful lot of time wondering why I am so good at not doing what I should. It's not remarkable: Paul said, "I do the things I would not do, I don't do the things I would do and I have no strength in me." What I fail to find amid the consolation of numbers and longevity is the real solution to the problem. Of ourselves, we are capable of so little, and everything is dependent upon grace.

So I come back around to the "little way" and wonder. Perhaps the will is so weak that it is a matter of one thing at a time with th conscious deliberation. Perhaps that is what the little way is about. Little children have many "deficiencies" compared to adults. But one thing that they have to their advantage--when they are focused on something, nothing else in the entire world exists. A common ploy from childrearing books suggests that when your child is focused on the electrical outlets or your version of a Ming vase, the best thing to do is refocus.

Perhaps what I lack is sufficient focus on the moment. My mind is here, there, or somewhere else, and the moment is left to fend for itself as I'm battling the monsters of the future or the past, or indulging in the dreams of grandeur and wealth, or at least the delights of the thought of a new plaything (PDA, PDA).

Perhaps part of the little way is not only to do little things, but to take on the focus of the little child and in the moment that is before us, here and now, to make the right choice, with the help of grace. And these moments, one at a time, ultimately lead to Glory. If each choice is made in obedience to God, then we foster both trust and love of God and we move onward.

The little way sounds so simple. It sounds as though no doctrine at all, but the depths and the subtleties of it are such that I am not certain that we will ever plumb the fullness of it.

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At Mass this morning, our priest commented on the gospel reading by saying that Jesus wishes us to live our spiritual lives with child-like (NOT childish) wonder throughout our lifetimes. Your posting brought this to mind for me.

I tend to have daydreams of "spiritual" activities, but that's probably more dangerous than dreaming of wealth in a way. One because I might think I'm better than the people who piddle away precious time dreaming about less important things, two because I think I'm really daydreaming about seeing God's will done but maybe it's more about my own desires to be the one He chooses for the impressive stuff, or even something more mundanely selfish. (I have started to wonder whether the people I hope to see find or return to the Church will be sure to retain benign but very annoying habits so I will have to rejoice more for God's sake and their sake than my own!)

I find myself tempted to envy people who are "out there doing good," in ways that obviously are not my calling right now, and I know that's wrong, because God has given me a husband and a child and no reasonable opportunity right now to run a home for abandoned pregnant women or staff an orphanage in Honduras. It's pretty clear how I could be interested in the perceived excitement, sort of glamour, and standing out from the world, more than in loving others for God's sake, when I'm daydreaming about really tough stuff like this but procrastinating on doing the dishes because I get frustrated with the crowded layout of the dishwasher.

Not that I never dream of more income or a new sink or an addition to our house. It's just easier for me to recognize as becoming problematic.

Dear Davey's Mom,

I know what you're saying. I don't spend much time daydreaming about wealth, but I do occasionally find myself singing Tevye's song--

"Would it spoil some grand eternal plan
if I were a wealthy man"

(Of course, Tevye was only talking about a step up out of abject poverty. Anything I might want in superfluous, and probably sinful given the state of the world.)



Steven - I do get what you are saying about attending Mass with children. Yet, believe it or not, now that we don't have that to deal with, I really miss it. A child's eyes see things that I might miss.
Oh, and I had to laugh as I read the word PDA - to my teenage children that means public display of affection, and is off-limits at school and to be groaned at when mom and dad kiss in the kitchen. It took me a minute to realize you meant something along the lines of a palmtop.
I have loaded my palmtop with the virtual rosary as a bit of a prayer aid during boring meetings at work. Nobody bats an eyelash if the palm is out......

Fear. As we grow older we experience fear, and our reactions to it harden like concrete. And it is fear that keeps us from doing what we should, from being close to God. I sympathize - I have adult ADD (attention deficit disorder) and a good dose of procrastination - which is based on fear of failure.

Contemplative, or 'centering' prayer has really helped me through this. It has helped me become closer to GOd, which in turn has helped me let go of the fear, procrastination and so on. Not that I'm a perfect person, or free of fear & procrastination. But it has helped immensely.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on September 21, 2003 11:24 AM.

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