“Train yourself for the life of piety,
for while physical training is to some extent valuable,
religion is incalculably more so,
with its promise of life here and hereafter.
You can depend on this as worthy of complete acceptance.” - Timothy 4:8
The older I get the more I have come to believe in the value of listening. Last Friday evening, after a rather unpleasant experience on the soccer pitch - it was foggy, misty, soggy, and our girls were the recipients of rude language from the opposing team - I was graced with an opportunity to listen.
Each morning I strive to arrive at school to give myself enough time to listen to our Lord. Contemplative prayer is not easy. Some of the fathers in our community recently embarked upon a spiritual retreat where we all experienced and encouraged each other in this shared pursuit of learning to listen to God’s will.
It can be tough to hear God’s will and even more challenging to accept it.
Now I was having a hard time accepting the defeat and all the collateral damage that I saw coming. It is hard for me as a coach to see the girls get down on themselves. But if I was willing to just listen to the person next to me, I knew that I would eventually see the wisdom in God’s will.
So as I listened to this person beside me, I was reminded of the supernatural goal despite the worldly loss. I was reminded of the very words I uttered to my own daughter one ride home this season, where I communicated the need to prioritize heavenly goods over worldly ones. I told her that I can see in myself the struggle to identify when I may be pursuing things of the world too hard. And then the harshest reality of parenting hit me for the thousandth time it seemed: I have to live by the words I tell others.
This young person shared a desire for authenticity, and communicated how she encountered the inauthentic. This reality is a preparation for the ultimate reality of eternal life. We will soon celebrate those liturgical feasts that point us to eternal realities: All Saints and All Souls.
There is fakeness in the world, but the world is not fake. We need to teach our children both what is true and how to go about finding truth, because the vast majority of voices in front of our children do not teach them the truth about themselves or their eternal destiny.
We know the world is not fake because God declared it good at creation, and then deemed it so good that He assumed flesh and redeemed it in the Paschal Mystery. We need to teach our children how the Incarnation transformed our world and ourselves, and if we cooperate via the life of grace made available in the sacraments, we can be truly happy and truly free!
However, following God’s will requires slowing down enough to contemplate on His level, the level that sees this world through the lens of heavenly wisdom. I am still searching for how to teach this to my own children, because as many of us have found out the hard way, there is wisdom in experience and experience takes time. It can’t be forced, and the answer will not be instant. And much of our world aims at the instantaneous, failing to practice the wisdom of perseverance.
Just before I wrote this, I read a selection from The Road of Hope: A Gospel from Prison that discusses the virtue of perseverance. I will end with the encouragement I just received. I do suggest reading the introduction from Amazon to get a glimpse into the origins of these words!
Do not allow failure to discourage you. If you are seeking to do God’s will and meet with some setback, that “failure” is a success in the eyes of God, for it occurred in the act of doing his will. Look at the example of Jesus on the cross.
Results and success are two entirely different things. There may be no outward signs of results, but at the same time there can be an increase in experience, humility, and faith in God - and these are the signs of success from a supernatural point of view.
You say that it is too difficult. This may be true enough, but only something acquired through great effort will be truly worthwhile.
- Mr. Derek Tremblay, Headmaster