Grace Before Google

Yes, I know I’m not supposed to be here until February, but it’s a woman’s perogative to change her mind.  So, it’s 2:15 a.m., I can’t sleep, and am having that recurring absurd notion that if I just google, “who can help me?”, the spiritual director of my dreams will pop up. 

Since I’ve heard that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, I refrained from the googling.  Instead, I paid a little visit to Word Incarnate.  Here’s a taste of what made me laugh out loud:

Perhaps we ought to ask the Lord to define “sufficient” (some of his definitions are different than ours; take “soon,” for example).

I don’t know what St Paul’s “thorn” was, but sometimes I feel like I’m wearing an entire rosebush…

Thanks, Abbot Joseph.  A little grace goes a long way.  And now I will make a graceful exit again.  🙂


16 thoughts on “Grace Before Google

  1. It is thanks to you, Gabrielle, and Justme and Pia that I found Word Incarnate.
    Thanks, Abbot Joseph… make me laugh too – in among all the seriousness of life your blog is a very welcome retreat, and of course there is much to ponder there as well.

  2. He’s hilarious. There is one post in the archives in which he speaks of how distraught he was once– indeed, he might’ve Googled “who can help me” except that he had already asked God to do so and would thus wait for some definitive intervening. Indeed, God’s “soon” sometimes has a different timeline, too, but finally a very somber priest came to visit him, and as they sat talking, Abbot Joseph found that he was suddenly no longer hearing the priest’s words — there was a laugh of joy building inside him which soon snuck out. He apologized for his outburst to the priest who now was a bit baffled, assured him he had helped him greatly, and then he took off into the hills to laugh it out privately with the Lord. I’ve read it twice and laughed right along with him. If I find it again, I’ll link, but indeed, he’s some kind of wonderful.

  3. “Some kind of wonderful”. The Carole King in me is singing. And I guess “God’s different timeline” also means that things can turn on a dime. Soon and very soon…

  4. Perhaps part of grace’s sufficiency is the ability to laugh at ourselves even in the midst of otherwise serious struggles. Maybe laughter ought also to be listed in our arsenal of spiritual weapons. The devil can hardly succeed with someone who finds his fulminations funny. While our spiritual life must go much deeper than the level of the humorous, a glad heart is always an open door to grace.

  5. Indeed, one cannot truly laugh, unless one knows God– knows that He won the battle.

    We all usually bleed so quietly, don’t we–not least of all those poor nearly 50,000,000, now, who waited for rescue that never came.. so I don’t feel like smiling, no, but to see the squirrel sitting up and holding the crust of my lunch’s tuna sandwich as if a harmonica? Well, yes, that unexpectedly made me laugh. Such as this makes me also laugh to realize that when God sees me, sometimes He sees a squirrel holding a crust, too.. and yet, He wants to employ that squirrel! Wants to embue that squirrel with His own compassion, His own gifts — and can do so! He has already conquered not only this world, but my world.

    Indeed, a glad heart.

  6. Thanks for the detour…I’ve always thought that if we Christians would laugh heartily at who we are, with all our flaws and imperfections, then it would be easier to love. I know that even God must find humor in my “being”! And HE loves me!!!

  7. Hi teresa. Yes, a little oasis he was, in the post-midnight desert!

    Abbot Joseph, how true, and not only as a spiritual weapon, but as such a healing gift. We know how laughter heals psychologically and physically; I’m sure this gladness of heart, this joy that bubbles up from our depths and brings peace in the midst of trials is one of God’s precious gifts to us as a means of spiritual healing. And we are grateful when the gift is shared!

    Cathy, God finding humour in our being! Just in our “being” – and as Carol said, His seeing us as we might see a comical squirrel with a crust of bread. He takes delight in us, through Jesus, because He took delight in His Son! If we could only look at ourselves and others this way more consistently!

    Joakim, thanks! Glad to know I’m in good company!

  8. I’m gonna go out and make the squirrels laugh, now–they are such serious little things. One day a couple summers ago I was out on the deck reading a Fr. Brown story very very quietly for some time when (Chesterton) suddenly inserted an utterly hilarious quip. It caused me to roar with laughter. Unbeknownst to me, a squirrel – thinking I was just some odd part of the picnic chair – was passing by just then and I scared him so badly, he sat in a nearby branch, just yelling up and down at me! Whereas cats just sit right down and take a sudden bath. I must be too quiet usually (uh, believe it or not).

    When we have God–even if it doesn’t feel so to us, then indeed/amen, we shall have strength enough to persevere.

    And may God bless all reading here today, very richly.

  9. Gab, I could have sworn you wrote a comment asking me about letizia francescana…but I can’t find it!

    Anyway, I googled it and found this from an Italian Franciscan site, and I guess “joyful detachment” may be the best definition, because it doesn’t mean “happy go luckiness”, but rather happiness in pain:

    “Perfect joy is not the fruit of interior darkness but of a faith which is joyfully lived out, the result of Francis’ full intimacy with the divine, which no human problem can destroy. You may still be totally human but not be influenced by your own humanity, by your mood swings, or by the voices and reactions that affect your soul, heart and mind.

    Perfect joy is not when you “put up” with suffering and misunderstanding, but when you accept them with joy, because they do not touch or wound you. You are not happy because you have been insulted, but you are happy notwithstanding the insult.
    It may appear to be a contradiction, but Francis is happy even though he’s been expelled from the Order, even though his friends, his “children” treat him badly; he is happy no matter what because their mistreatment does not cut him off from his communion with God.
    This is the ultimate secret of joy: feeling protected, impassible to the “meanness, or the kindness” of your neighbors, friends or enemies. “

  10. Thanks, Pia, for this. St Francis did not let anything or anybody come between him and God’s love. So many of the saints seemed to have reached that stage where as Pia says they were/ are happy because they are in communion with God.
    It also better explains a martyr’s love that trascends the physical.

  11. Pia, it wasn’t your imagination! I messed up when I was doing a bit of good samaritan editing with sleepy eyes. 🙂

    Thanks for this marvelous explanation of joyful detachment, Pia. And as Ann says, it is something we come across so often in the lives of the saints and the martyrs. I think many of us experience this during certain periods of our spiritual journey, but, and I speak only for myself, perhaps it is not at the deepest level, because it doesn’t seem to be sustained, and we still feel beaten down by the world at times. On the other hand, when we arrive at this place that is closer to the joyful detachment the Franciscans describe, we are looked down on, even by fellow-Catholics, as not taking the problems of the world seriously enough, not being enough of an “activist”. And this too we have to accept with joyful detachment!

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