Thursday, December 18, 2014

33 Days to Morning Glory - Holy Spirit, grant us the only necessary knowledge

While I lamented last week that I really don't know how to celebrate Advent properly, I realize that this year, I am doing something different that has been great. I am doing St. Louis de Montfort and Father Michael Gaitley's 33 Days to Morning Glory - it's a set of prayers for 33 days, and at at the end you consecrate yourself to Jesus through Mary's intercession.  You can sign up here for a daily email, if interested.

Even though Advent is coming to a close, this is a worthy consecration.  You may enjoy the prayers or be able to join in for the last few days.  You can do the 33 days of consecration at a later date, anytime really.  But this particular consecration ends on Christmas Day.

One of the prayers from the litany to the Holy Spirit jumps out at me every think God is trying to say something to me?

"Holy Spirit, grant us the only necessary knowledge."  

This means so many things, it convicts me of so many sins, and it is such a succinct reminder.

Grant us the only necessary knowledge...

...of your salvation.
How many times do we wonder exactly why and how the mysteries of salvation unfolded?  Why a virgin birth?  Why Israel?  Why didn't the Bible contain more explicit references to transubstantiation or other catholic doctrines?  Why does it seem that so many seek and do not find?  Why, God, why? So many questions...sometimes it seems that the answers are few.  But, God has given us the knowledge that we need for salvation and the grace to accept it.  Each of us.  There comes a point in time that we need to accept what we do know and stop worrying about what we don't know or don't understand.  God has given us the only necessary knowledge.  Yes, Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief...and yet...don't let me get stuck in the questions and the unbelief.  Help me to accept that I have the necessary knowledge for my salvation, and I need to act upon it.  I heard Kimberly Hahn mention this in a presentation she gave.  When she was contemplating conversion to the Catholic Church, she had almost all of her questions answered.  God finally told her to act upon what she knew and believed, to stop obsessing over the small questions still left.   (I'm paraphrasing).  The answers came with time.  I think many of us Type A personalities, or former Protestants, or any number of categories can have a hard time over-thinking things.  I think God is saying that we should accept what it is that we DO know and DO believe.

Grant us the only necessary knowledge...

...of your will. 
This is a hard one.  I drove by a Psychic "business" the other day, and I thought, "how do those places even stay open?  Who goes to a psychic?"  But, the truth is, many people do.  And, even if we don't go to a psychic, we might read a horoscope or new age philosophy, or dabble in other seemingly harmless practices to find God's will.  What if our practice of finding God's will is not a psychic or a horoscope, but the paralysis of analysis that comes when trying to know what is the right thing to do.  We discuss and over-analyze with our friends sometimes without spending time with God himself to discern.  We want to know the plan BEFORE we make any moves or say "yes" to God.  We want spiritual enlightenment, but in our time, in our ways, by our standards.  There are questions that will probably haunt me for the rest of my life.  Why did so-and-so have to die at such a young age?  Why did you allow so-and-so to cause such terrible suffering?

There's a reason faith is called faith.  It's not a blind faith.  It is not a faith free from reason or logic, but it requires assurance of what we cannot see.  We have to trust.  We know that God wills our good. We know that God would never harm us, and that somehow, some way, all of our sins and screw-ups are being woven together and worked for our good.  And yet, we live in fear sometimes.  I often wonder what my life would look like without fear.  I wonder if I would have made different decisions or had different experiences.  God's will is usually seen best in hindsight.  As life unfolds, it's a dance of faith, trust, hope, and obedience. "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known." - I Corinthians 13:12

Grant us the only necessary knowledge...

...of other people's business.  
When it comes to the sin of gossip and nosiness, we can often justify things to ourselves because we think, "I'm not gossiping, I'm being a supportive friend," or, "I'm not gossiping, I'm just concerned about [insert person or situation]," or "I'm not gossiping, I just like to know what's going on in my own family [or friend-group or workplace]," or even worse, " I can PRAY for so-and-so."  This doesn't cover all the bases, but I think of the countless times I have pried for information out of phony concern, out of selfish curiosity, or the times I have stalked (yes, really), stalked via Facebook or some other way to find out what was happening or what was the latest with someone or something. We like to be in the know, to be up-to-date, or to have the latest information.  We like to hear all sides of the story, the nitty-gritty details.  Who broke up with whom and why, who doesn't like whom, who isn't getting along, what's so-and-so's problem.  We like to hear all this stuff so we can make judgment calls and prognosticate about the whys, the flaws, the mistakes, the future.  It's really nauseating and exhausting.  It's a gross and disgusting human behavior.  I think sometimes we like to know EVERYTHING about EVERYONE else so that we can be the supreme authority on how they live their lives, never turning that microscopic analysis to our own behavior.  We can never know what someone else is going through, what struggles they have, especially internally, and what might be the reasons behind some behaviors.  We can just pray for them.  (And P.S., praying for someone doesn't require that you announce that you're praying for can just pray.)  I forget which saint or writer I was reading, but they were talking about the value of silence and prayer.  They even suggested that rather than asking or wondering about someone's latest details (if they are not shared out right with you), rather than prying, just use that time and energy to pray for them.  Maybe you don't know the latest details, but which is more important - praying for them, asking God that his will be done in their lives, or knowing every little detail - even the ones they may have left out for a reason.  I have been hurt so much in my life by other people's words, gossip, prying, etc.  I'm a very private person by nature, and I hate when people try to get into my business.  And yet, I also struggle with the sin of gossip.  Our words are powerful.  Our time and energy is limited.  Why not use it to help others, to pray for them, and to remember that we should only have the knowledge necessary of a situation - nothing more, nothing less.

"Holy Spirit, grant us the only necessary knowledge."  

In what other ways could this short prayer apply to our lives?

Pax Christi


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