They had wi-fi, but nothing was connecting. So I have days of photos to upload. Now that I am back in Rome, we will slowly upload the pics. There is connection here but it is sometimes weak.
So after Mass, we snuck out the back door and got over to a ristorante, La Vittoria, before the crowds. All the tables soon filled up except the table next to us which had a "riservato" sign on it. Soon enough a party of three took their places at that table. John and I carried on our conversation in English while this trio conversed happily in German. Jump ahead two and a half hours later. The Ristorante was beginning to empty out. No problem, I have closed restaurants before. This trio was paying its bill, we asked for our check. I made a sideways comment in English, "Are you from Germany?" The women smiled sweetly and said, "yes." But then we were off to the races, I am not sure how it happened but I discovered that we had been sitting next to Paul Badde and his wife for nearly three hours. And we made an instant connection, especially when I said we were going to Mannopello next week.
We don’t believe in a benign God living happily ever after, far, far away. We do not believe in an angry God sitting above just waiting to pounce, and even punish. We do believe in a God who has come very close and invited us into a fraternal relationship that is real, regular and intimate. The spiritual life is a friendly communion between the God of the universe and this poor soul. And this poor soul, in conversation with God, knows himself to be loved with a love beyond my ability to describe.
God is Father, and as a Father, as my Father, is the most gentle and strong of Fathers - affectionate and kind. In a word, perfect. He holds the highest perfection in that He is love itself. The created world gives us every indication of its Creator’s warmth. Even on a dark, rainy day, we can have hope of future sunshine. Yes, even on the darkest day, behind the clouds, the sun still brings life and warmth to the earth. This is but an image and symbol of the love that God has for this poor soul.
God loves us, and still loves us just as we are, precisely because of our sinfulness and worthlessness. Pride does not understand compassionate love. It refuses to admit to being totally worthless. God is only known by a humble spirit. We must approach Him in faith, pure faith—acknowledging the absolute misery of this poor soul and believing in the immeasurably generous and incomprehensible compassion of God for that misery. “Let us believe in all simplicity, in all humility in the wholly compassionate love of God for us poor sinners.” (St. Therese) Our proud knowledge means nothing. We depend on grace. Grace bears us, we do not bear grace.
God’s love is completely different from human love and affection. We love other people because they look good, are kind to us and do nice things for us. God loves us precisely because we are hopelessly lost, sinful and worthless. Our sinfulness is the very means for communion with the compassionate love of God. God loves us because we are worthless and unlovable. Our task is to acknowledge our worthlessness and keep ourselves open and accepting of His compassion so that He may change our worthlessness into love for Him in all His glory. This strips us of pride, because we are no longer looking at ourselves, but to Him. Now we are focused on our beloved. Humility is truth. Once we see ourselves as we truly are before God, we can turn our gaze from our sin and look to the one who loves us, not in spite of our worthlessness, but because of it.
God loves us. He loves, not because of any great deeds that we have done or are capable of doing. He loves us for what we are, and because of what we are. Knowing our total inadequateness, we come to know and believe in the compassion God has for us. Surrendering ourselves to that compassion, His love may then begin to work in us and change us into what it is He desires of us. God is striving to change our souls into love so that we may share His likeness. The effect of God’s compassion in a soul that is open, is the continual changing of the soul with the grace of God’s love, transforming its human wretchedness into Charity.
This, God places in us: No desire for great deeds, nothing out of the ordinary, no ecstasies or revelations, but simply the desire to love as God loves. So, yes, Pope Francis, God does love this poor soul just as it is, because it is so poor. But He does not leave it there. He thirsts for that love in return so that He may transform the poor soul into His own likeness.
Photo by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, taken October 22, 2014
Omnia Christus Est Nobis
Christ is everything for us!
I am a Roman Catholic Priest from California. I spent 13 wonderful years years as a member of the Province of the Pacific in the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. The outline of my life can be traced here.