“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.” – Julian of Norwich
In our technology-addled, information-overloaded age we are promised repose, yet we are feverishly hurried. In a sea of modern”answers”, we are plagued by uncertainty. In an era of self-actualization, we are in a crisis of purpose. We are assured that we are cured, but we just can’t shake our disease. Where can you find peace in a world of stress?
Let me tell you where to go.
Go into a Catholic Church, kneel in a pew, and be quiet. For fifteen minutes – just fifteen minutes – be quiet and talk to God. You don’t have to recite a prayer, unless you want to. But just let it all out. Speak as bluntly, as frankly, to God as you can. No pretense. No self-consciousness. Just let it all out.
And then look and listen. Not just in the pew, but in the street, at home, during work, at the health club and for the rest of the day, the rest of the week, the rest of the month, look and listen. God is there.
And you will start to see him in ways that may be very particular to you. A chance encounter, an insightful thought, an unexpected solution, an unexplained opportunity. God is active. And he is showing himself, responding to your prayer in ways that can escape you if you simply aren’t paying attention. Open your eyes, open your ears and get ready. You will, in one fashion or another, encounter God.
Now let me say this about Catholicism: You will encounter God in the Catholic Church.
Catholicism speaks to the ineradicable Dignity we have as children of God, the unique Calling that each of us (individually) is discerning, the unavoidable, but sanctifying Suffering that accompanies us on our life’s journey, and the Grace we can sense in part and will experience in full upon encountering Christ at our life’s end.
Catholicism speaks unlike any other worldview, political philosophy, ideology or faith. It reminds us of our dignity, fallibility and redeemability. It acknowledges the path to follow and the traps along the way. It chastens and comforts. It loves without end. And it never leaves you.
As G.K. Chesterton would say, “[Catholicism] is the only thing that frees a man from the degrading slavery of being a child of his age.” Catholicism speaks to the deep sense of dislocation we can feel in the modern world. Though awash with pleasures and overwhelmed with information, our restless hearts remain restless. Our soul’s God-shaped hole waits to be filled.
How do we know that God is there? How do we understand he is saying? How do we discern what direction we are to go? We must pray and study Scripture. The Face of God is never more visible than when represented by the words and deeds of Christ in the Gospels. We must let go of control and have faith in the God of Mercy and Justice, Hope and Love. We must realize that though we “see through a glass darkly”, there is a loving Creator who is always present and infinitely invested in us. And our life unfolds as an intimate dialogue of hope and purpose between our loving Father and ourselves. Just consider the words of Blessed John Henry Newman,
We are all created to [God’s] glory—we are created to do His will. I am created to do something or to be something for which no one else is created; I have a place in God’s counsels, in God’s world, which no one else has; whether I be rich or poor, despised or esteemed by man, God knows me and calls me by my name.God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission—I never may know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. Somehow I am necessary for His purposes, as necessary in my place as an Archangel in his—if, indeed, I fail, He can raise another, as He could make the stones children of Abraham. Yet I have a part in this great work; I am a link in a chain, a bond of connexion between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do His work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I do but keep His commandments and serve Him in my calling.Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life, He may shorten it; He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends, He may throw me among strangers, He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me—still He knows what He is about.O Adonai, O Ruler of Israel, Thou that guidest Joseph like a flock, O Emmanuel, O Sapientia, I give myself to Thee. I trust Thee wholly. Thou art wiser than I—more loving to me than I myself. Deign to fulfil Thy high purposes in me whatever they be—work in and through me. I am born to serve Thee, to be Thine, to be Thy instrument. Let me be Thy blind instrument. I ask not to see—I ask not to know—I ask simply to be used.
Step away from the noise. Pray and have faith. Go to Mass and partake in the Eucharist. Remember, God didn’t create us only to abandon us. He assured us, “Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
And all shall be well.
All shall be well.
All manner of things shall be well.
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