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Tomorrow Can Take Care of Itself

March 25, 2014 by  
Filed under Book Club, Sarah Reinhard

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Interior Freedom (Week 4 of 5)

It's so, SO easy to worry. Here I live, completely spoiled by the riches around me, and yet…and yet, I worry. I gnaw my nails. I fret.

If it's a mistake to add the burden of the past to the weight of the present, it's a still worse mistake to burden the present with the future. The remedy for that tendency is to meditate on the lesson contained in the Gospel about abandonment to God's Providence and ask for God's grace to practice it. “Do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? . . . Therefore do not be anxious, saying ‘What shall we eat?' or ‘What shall we drink?' or ‘What shall we wear?'” (Matthew 6:25-34)

Interior Freedom, p. 87, Part II, Chapter 5, Paragraph 1

Tomorrow can Take Care of Itself

For years, I've found that passage from Matthew comforting, and I find that it makes the phrase “abandonment to Divine Providence” more palatable to me.

I'm not good at abandoning. For me, abandoning is synonymous with giving up, with tossing in the towel, with quitting. Abandonment isn't something to be proud of, to trumpet, to put on my resume.

And the Divine Providence part of that phrase isn't really helpful for me, either. I feel like I should like it, but it feels like something out of the Organic Chemistry class I never quite got the guts to take in my college years.

So to hear Jesus put tangibility with it, to see Fr. Philippe tie it together: that makes it something that the farm girl in me can start to understand and practice, haggard fingernails notwithstanding.

To live today well we also should remember that God only asks for one thing at a time, never two. It doesn't matter whether the job we have in hand is sweeping the kitchen floor or giving a speech to forty thousand people. We must put our hearts into it, simply and calmly, and not try to solve more than one problem at a time. Even when what we're doing is genuinely trifling, it's a mistake to rush through it as though we felt we were wasting our time. If something, no matter how ordinary, needs to be done and is part of our lives, it's worth doing for its own sake, and worth putting our hearts into.

Interior Freedom, Part II, Chapter 6, Paragraph 3

I'm stifling the urge to argue that, indeed, some of the jobs I do are more important than others. In the moment, the most important job is the one I should be doing right then, right? Is this an example of “it's all gift” being put into practice?

In the next section, then, we tie it together with a discussion of faith, hope, and love.

Christians are not people who follow a set of rules. Christians are, first and foremost, people who believe in God, hope for everything from him, and want to love him with all their hearts and to love their neighbors. The commandments, prayer, the sacraments, and all the graces that come from God (including the loftiest mystical experiences) have just one purpose: to increase our faith, hope, and love.

Interior Freedom, p. 95, Part III, Chapter 1, Paragraph 3

The theological virtues have a key role in the spiritual life because here our freedom and God's grace cooperate. Everything in our lives that is positive and good comes from God's grace, the unmerited and freely given action of the Holy Spirit in our hearts; yet grace cannot be fully fruitful in us unless we fully cooperate.

Interior Freedom, pp. 95-96, Part III, Chapter 1, Paragraph 5

And to tie it all up, with what felt to me like a ribbon, was this gem:

…hope is a choice that often demands an effort. It is easier to worry, get discouraged, be afraid. Hoping means trusting. When we hope we are not passive; we are acting.

Interior Freedom, p. 96, Part III, Chapter 1, Paragraph 7

It's all too EASY to quit. All these years, as a closet quitter, I've realized that. And I've also felt helpless not to want to quit, not to see it as the first good option.

Oh, I've had my fair share of buckle-down-and-get-er-done experiences. But just ask my parents, my husband, my children: I've had far more hide-in-the-closet-and-quit-right-now moments. Sometimes, though, these are internal battles, ones I've lost because I refuse to dig in on a level that only God and I can see.

And that's where I find my hope in the sacraments, especially confession. Thanks to that Catholic guilt so many people seem to decry, I have a Confessionometer, something that points me toward the hope of salvation, the proof of redemption, the decision not to quit.

Reading Assignment:

Week 5 (March : p. 112 starting with #2 “Where the spirit rules, there is freedom”)-End of Book

ANNOUNCING OUR NEXT BOOK: In two weeks, we’re starting with a new book, The Sinner's Guide, by Venerable Louis of Granada, O.P. (beginning on April 8). You can order a copy of the book from your preferred retailer or find it in its entirety online (EWTN and Catholic Treasury are two of the places to find it online). We’ll post the reading schedule soon on the CSD book club page.

Discussion Questions:

1. What's the biggest hurdle you face in the practice of living in the present moment? How did the reading this week help you or guide you to a new realization about it?

2. Do you struggle with faith, hope, or love (or maybe a combination)? What can you do to help build on the decisions to live these virtues in your life?

Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!

Read more: Previous Book Club Posts

For More Information on the Book Club:  http://spiritualdirection.com/csd-book-club

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About Sarah Reinhard

Sarah Reinhard continues to delight ”and be challenged by” her vocations of Catholic wife and mother. She's online at SnoringScholar.com and is the author of a number of books for families.

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  • Mary L

    Fr. Philippe’s description of hope springing from impoverishment is encouraging for me. It’s counterintuitive on the surface, yet on a deeper level, it makes sense. When I am broken, I am most vulnerable to the gifts of God’s mercy and forgiveness. When I am impoverished in some way I begin to understand that I’m not in control….not God. I am powerless but not hopeless because of God’s mercy and forgiveness.

    Fr. Philippe describes the ‘impoverishing’ outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Peter after he denied Jesus three times. When he wept for his own sin he received the hope of forgiveness in the gaze of Jesus.

    “As long as we are rich, we rely on our riches. To learn hope, we have to pass through impoverishment. These experiences are a prelude to experiencing the goodness, faithfulness and power of God in an extraordinary way.” (Pg. 101)

    • Vicki

      Mary, Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. These comments by Fr. Philippe reminded me of the analogy in Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence of a doctor administering “leeches” to purify a patient’s blood. The notion is repulsive, but it worked, just as the Divine Doctor uses “impoverishing” circumstances (even circumstances that would repulse or humiliate us) for the purification of our souls, so that we can draw ever closer to Him.

  • FrCraig

    Friends,
    I’m new to the RC SD Book Club. I’m looking forward to beginning the next book.

    • LizEst

      Welcome FrCraig! We are happy you are joining us and are looking forward to your contributions! God bless you!

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