Her Doctrine and Morals

Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost

12 November 2017


The Sunday


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Dear Friends,

There are two kinds of sorrow. Saint Paul tells us that "the sorrow that is according to God worketh penance, steadfast unto salvation; but the sorrow of the world worketh death." (II Cor. Vii. 10) All things are passing away in this world — including our very lives. The passing away of these things, our loved ones, and even of our very selves; fills many with great sorrow. This is the sorrow of the world and it is not healthy for our souls.

Our true life is not in this world. We are only passing through this life. Our true life is in Heaven with God. Everything in this world is headed back towards the nothingness from which God made it. We only have what we have for a very short time. Our possessions are not really ours — they are temporary gifts that we will have to let go of. Our health, and our very life here on earth is also going to be taken away from us. Some may lose all these things in a moment, others will suffer these losses gradually, one by one over time.

In the Litany of the Saints, we pray: From a sudden and unprovided death — Deliver us O Lord. To lose everything at once without previous provision is a great tragedy. It tends to lead us to the sorrow of the world. To lose our possessions, our beauty, strength, intelligence, health, etc. over time allows us to reconcile ourselves with their passing away. It gives us time to rise from the sorrow of the world, to the sorrow that is according to God.

How easy it is for us to become angry with the loss of things and the gradual loss of our earthly vitality. We strive with great efforts to hold onto all that we have accumulated in this world. To lose it, or have it taken away appears to the worldly to be the greatest of injustices. To the more spiritually minded, the loss of worldly things makes room for more spiritual things to enter in. The loss of material things makes room for spiritual things to be gathered up. The loss of the health of our bodies, gives us opportunity to nurture the health of our souls. Our loss of hearing, for example, deafens our ears to the world so that they may become attuned to voice of God, our guardian angels, and our own consciences. The loss of our sight in this life, allows us to more clearly open our spiritual eyes to Heaven. The loss of our physical strength and stamina, gives us the opportunity to exercise ourselves in spiritual works to increase their strength and stamina.

Far from becoming angry at the loss of these things for ourselves or our loved ones, we should be rejoicing and thanking God. His Wisdom is far beyond our feeble understanding, but when we give ourselves over freely to His Will, we obtain, from time to time, glimpses of the profound wisdom and goodness of God.

It is a tragic shame that material poverty so often fails to make us rich in the things of the spirit; or that physical illness and death so often fail to make us spiritually healthy and truly alive! The fault is not God's, but rather the fault is truly our own. Our perceptions and our wills have become skewed so that we do not clearly see or understand the wisdom and goodness in the ways of God. We lose all thought of God and eternity and focus all our attentions upon this earth and this life. We give in to the temptation to live only for this life, and we fail to see the bigger picture that there is a much greater life that only comes after this one. This life, here on earth, is only important because of the fact that it prepares us for the next one — either an eternal life of happiness or an eternal life of suffering — an eternity with God or an eternity without Him.

There is no denying that this life, here on earth, is good. We are only saying that the life in eternity is greater. We are not to take our own lives or the lives of others to expedite our entrance into the next life. This is presumption and is stealing from God His Rights. It is an imposition of our own wills upon His. We must patiently bear with all the burdens and difficulties of this life awaiting for God to take them away from us when it pleases Him to do so. This is always in our best interest because God wills our eternal happiness. Some He takes out of this world quickly — lest they suffer contamination of this world and lose their souls eternally. Others, He gives long lives to — so that they may have ample opportunity for penance and thus avoid eternal punishment.

For those that are eternally lost, He sometimes cuts their lives short to limit the evil they do in this world, or to spare them from greater suffering in Hell. Some are given a longer life showing the patience of God, or for the instruction and salvation of others. Some evil souls abound in the riches and pleasures of this world. We can understand this if we realize that, this is the only reward they will have. They have their reward here on earth and have nothing in eternity.

It is not the having or the not having of the passing things of this earth that are important. What is important is our love for God and our complete resignation to His Will. Or perhaps, even better than this, our appreciation, conformity, and love of His Will. The sorrow that comes from the knowledge of having resisting His will, is a sorrow that leads to true penance and eternal life.

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