Tuesday, 15 October 2013

The Unthinkable: Sharing Your Holy Hour

If anyone has ever been or remains signed up to an Adoration roster this will particularly relate you, but indeed to all the same principle may certainly apply. It concerns the topic of self-love disguised as love for God. For many times we may pray, serve or act charitably not with a pure motive of desiring to do the Will of God, but rather with a secret, evil and selfish motive that may remain hidden like a snake under the rock of our human will. This snake within us is our perverted self-love, our pride, our ego, and often it remains undisturbed beneath the rock of our will, but as soon as something catches us unaware's, unexpectedly, the rock is lifted and our true motive is revealed as the poison it is. I have heard it said, and rightly so, that if we maintain inner peace despite what befalls us then we are living and fulfilling the Will of God. If our inner peace departs from us, then in that instance or occasion we have done our own will or the will of another but not God's. Of course this peace is a spiritual peace, not necessarily an emotional peace. This spiritual Peace is the mark of God's Will, it is the fruit of the Tree of the Divine Will; and if this Tree abides within us, and us in it, then surely the fruit of Peace shall be always with us.

If we expect a suffering then we are more likely to be content with it and thankful to God for it. This applies particularly to sufferings we prefer, or sufferings we ourselves are able to control (i.e. fasting, kneeling, cold weather etc). If however a suffering comes unexpected from the hands of God directly or indirectly through others, then we are likely to be revealed for who we truly are. These are the real sufferings, one's we don't actually prefer at all. For example, someone out of no where may cut you off whilst driving, and you may curse or swear at them; or else when we spill something or stub our toe we may do the same. Or maybe someone offends us or irritates us and we then look around for someone to gossip to about how such and such, is a this or that. And often justifying our slander by way of saying: "I just thought I'd mention it so that you can pray for him". Such occasions as this reveal the truth of the disposition of our will. At times we may be good willed, but often we have a hidden selfish agenda. Let's apply this to a specific practical scenario that ought to relate to Adorers of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

Picture this: You're a faithful attendee to St. Tony's Parish and a faithful attendee of your weekly Holy Hour at the prescribed time of 11pm to midnight. After all your parish has a Perpetual Adoration chapel and thanks to wonderful people like yourself all the hours of the day and week are filled. You enjoy your quiet time with the Lord, the time to be alone, away from the business of the family at home and the demands of your job. As you enter the chapel you wave goodbye to Susan who covers the hour before you. She closes the door. Now seated, you close your eyes, and sigh a sigh of relief. Peace. After 5 minutes of solitude however a man walks in. "What's he doing here?!" you think to yourself, "this is my hour, I've never seen him before, why's he intruding on my hour!".

This is a common temptation I think for many. Indeed I myself have been tempted many times by Satan in this way. You see what is revealed here is a selfish-love that deludes one into thinking that one loves God when really one loves and serves oneself, more than one loves and serves God. Why? Because in this scenario, when his neighbour came in to adore the Lord with him, he rejoiced not, nor blessed the man with an interior act of love, rather he cursed him and thus cursed the Lord for "whatever you do unto the least of these my brethren, you do unto me". If this man did his Holy Hour for love of God and understood that Christ was doing him a favour in this hour and not the other way around, then he would have rejoiced at his brother coming to join him in Adoration. But rather, like many of us Catholics, he was not there for the Lord and His Glory but he was there for himself and his own glory, veiled as it was behind fake sentiments of love. After all, is it not God's Will that all men come before Him so as to adore Him, so that He might lavish His blessings upon such a soul and likewise upon the whole world? Indeed, for as it is written God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." (1 Tim 2:4). It would be an act of rebellion against God to treat him lustfully like a possession of one's own selfish designs. Yet often do we not fall into such error by our selfish prayers that forget the salvation and sanctification of our neighbours? Or how about when we try and dominate God by insisting He obey our easy plan for our lives instead of His anything-but-easy plan for us? Such false-love of God is analogous to men who treat women as objects of lust; to gratify their perverted impulses at their willing. It is precisely this, and even worse, when we act like the older brother in the story of the prodigal son. For just as the older son out of false-love for his father did not rejoice in his neighbour's benefit out of envy and jealousy, we act in the same manner when we consent to the temptation to be irritated and pestered with our brother or sister when they 'disturb' our solitude. 

The truth be told, if we are disturbed, it is not the fault of anything from without, but the fault of our selves. For we posses a free will and united to God's Will our will becomes like a little boat in the Sea of His Will. If it rocks and is disturbed it is not God, for His Will is Peace, nor is it anything outside of us, be it any creature or created disturbance, including the devil; for no one but ourselves has the power to move our will. If then we are disturbed in the depths of our soul this is because it is we ourselves who rock our own boat! We are truly our own worst enemy, with our inconstancy, our fleeting love of God and neighbour, and our lukewarm to fervent prayer cycle that shifts depending on our emotional state. 

So much can be said, but let us end with a positive point and a resolution. If ever someone comes and joins you in your Holy Hour, do not be disturbed but rather rejoice for if we will what God Wills, then we would will that every man, woman and child would come and delightfully invade 'our' Holy Hour, because such is the longing of God to be adored by all! Truly when we get to heaven by God's Merciful Grace, He shall say unto those who shared with delight 'their' Holy Hour with their brothers and sisters: 'Blessed are you who have done the will of God'; "for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.' (Mat 25:35-40).

For 'our' Holy Hour is not ours at all, but God's Holy Hour that He has invited us to be a steward of, a caretaker and partaker of. Yet by God's Mercy it is our Holy Hour, because whatever is the Groom's is the bride's by virtue of inheritance. And so sharing our Holy Hour with someone is the greatest gift we can give to another, for we become like the gardeners of the Celestial Eden, opening the gates to the hungry, to feast upon God's Word; to the thirsty, to replenish themselves from the spring of God's Love; to the stranger, to be embraced by God's Longing; to the naked, to be clothed with the Joy of God's Grace; and to the imprisoned, to be set free by God's Unfathomable Mercy.
So perhaps we should actually invite people to come to our Holy Hour; and we shall leave it to the Lord if they come or not. If He Will's that we have 'a quiet one' by ourselves then praised be His Name, and if not, then be glad, and rejoice for what an opportunity is is to be like the Virgin Mary who opened to us the Door of Salvation by her "fiat", her "amen", Her "yes" to God's Will which "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." (1 Tim 2:4).

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