Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Fear, Hope, or Love - The Reasons for Every Action Since the Beginning of Time

Fear.  Hope.  Love. 

One of these three things motivate every action of our life.  They dictate how we suffer interiorly, and how we treat others.  They are often very hidden, but the absence of clamor doesn't nullify their existence or change their power.  If anything dictates everything in my life, I want to know about it.  I like to know what I'm doing and why I'm doing it.  If you don't have clarity about what you're doing, it is impossible to act with purity.  Purity of intention is acknowledging and removing all selfish intent when performing an action, and doing it for love alone.

To do good to others in the hope that, in turn, our Lord will be good to you is a supernatural motive, even if it is self-centered.  To do good to others with the consciousness that Christ asks it of you is less egoistic.  To do good to others because you are convinced that Christ will consider it as having been done to Him personally is a sign of pure love of God.  To do good to others because you can please God, and you want to give Him the best you can, is perfect love of God.
The Hidden Power of Kindness, Lawrence G. Lovasik

Fr. Lovasik didn't refer to doing good to others to avoid going to hell, but it is a possible motivation nonetheless.  In the same way, fear, hope, and love dictate our response to suffering in our lives.

According to Rt. Rev. Dom Lehodey in Holy Abandonment, there are three degrees of conformity to God's will in response to suffering:

In the first degree, we have no desire for suffering; in fact, we avoid it as much as possible.  However, we are willing to endure it if it is the only way that we can avoid committing a fault [for fear of condemnation].

In the second degree, we don't wish for suffering, but when it comes, we accept it and endure it willingly because we know that suffering is a part of God's plan for us.  We have a love of suffering, but this love is only a consequence of our love for God. [Hope in God's goodness and plan]

In the third degree, which is the most perfect of all, we are not content with just accepting the trials that God may send us and suffering cheerfully out of our love for Him...our love for God is so great that we long for trials and we rejoice when they come to us because we know that they come from the hand of God and are ordained by His adorable will. [Love]

 [What is contained in brackets is my interpretation, based on St. Bernard's summation]

According to St. Bernard, beginners as a rule have only resignation derived from fear; proficient bear the cross with a willing heart, a more generous conformity begotten of hope; the perfect embrace the cross with ardor, which complete conformity is the fruit of holy love.

Since we are all looking for happiness, it is good to know that we can have something even greater.  That something greater is joy.  It transcends happiness because it is not dependent on people or circumstances.  "Authentic joy is a deep interior peace and satisfaction that we experience as the fruit of wisdom and understanding." (Endow study guide)  It is the result of placing our expectations on Jesus, and not on others.  It comes when we do all things with purity of intention - the intention to love our neighbor for love of God.  Even, and especially, in our suffering. 

In his letter Salvifici Doloris, Pope John Paul II gives us four reasons our suffering can be seen as a reason for joy:

1.  It clears the way for the infusion of grace which transforms human souls.
2.  In it, there is concealed a particular power that draws a person interiorly close to Christ...
3.  ...human sufferings, united to the redemptive suffering of Christ, constitute a special support for the powers of good, and open the way to the victory of these salvific powers.
4.  Faith in sharing the suffering of Christ brings with it the interior certainty that the suffering person 'completes what is lacking in Christ's afflictions'; the certainty that in the spiritual dimension of the work of Redemption he is serving, like Christ, the salvation of his brothers and sisters.

So, basically, our suffering (IF we unite it with Christ's suffering by our intention to do so), can serve for our own salvation and that of others. 

That is a reason for real joy.

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for the rain, roofs that don't leak, and bread machines.  Thank you for loving us.  Thank you for fear to motivate us when our love is not yet perfect.  Thank you for hope along the way, and your love to imitate.  Please give me the wisdom to know what motivates me.  I want to do all things for love of You.  Please grant me the grace to act with purity of intention and detachment from all that is not You nor leads me to You.  Please give me the joy that comes from understanding your love for me, and your plan to bring good out of everything, especially suffering.  Thank you for the opportunity to participate in my own salvation and that of others.  Thank you for Pope John Paul II and the continued guidance of your Church since you gave Peter the keys to your Kingdom.  Thank you for Pope Francis and for his love.  Amen.

Pope John Paul II, pray for us!

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