Words of Wisdom in Troubled Times |
“How easy it is, in times of ease, to become dependent on our routines, on the established order of our daily existence, to train ourselves.” These words greeted subscribers to the monthly spiritual magazine Magnificat 20 years ago, in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in the United States. The meditations of the Magnificat (whose digital arm is at us.magnificat.net – a daily gift in my life) are chosen months in advance. There was no way for the editors to know what we would all be up against on September 12, 2001. Many people saw a divine hand in this selection. It certainly helped hearts. He can again.
The meditation was by Father Walter Ciszek, a Jesuit priest who spent two decades in Soviet prisons, convicted of being a “Vatican spy”. His words, taken from his book “He Leadeth Me”, come from a man of courage of conviction. There is a desire for normality, but is the comfort of the routine only a false security?
Father Ciszek has thoughts on the “normal”: “We don’t have to desire much of the things of this world – to be in love with riches, for example, or greedy or stingy – in order to have acquired this feeling of comfort and of well-being. – to be, to trust them as our support – and to take God for granted.
And that’s what captivated readers, looking for a little solace and a glimpse of how to deal with the terrorist attacks on the United States two decades ago: that we ultimately only depend on of him, that he created and destined us to live with him from all eternity, that the things of this world and of this world itself are not our lasting city, that we are his and that we must look at- him and turn to him in everything.
It doesn’t mean that God caused the attacks – that’s not how it works. But it’s a reminder that bad things happen when we take God for granted, when we forget to see God’s presence in the world. During the pandemic, churches in New York City were closed, often for months, while liquor stores remained open. It certainly seems like we are taking God for granted again, and at a time when we need God’s presence most.
Father Ciszek continues in the Magnificat: “So perhaps it is that he must allow our whole world to be upset in order to remind us that this is not our permanent home or final destiny, to bring us back to reason. and restore our meaning. of values, to turn our thoughts to Him again – even if at first our thoughts are questioning and full of reproach.
We asked 20 years ago, and we still are today. We wonder about the people we have welcomed in our country. We wonder about the next terrorist attack. We are concerned about COVID-19 and its variants. We worry about finances – oh my God, how we do! Quite! There is more to life than fear and the relentless search for safety. The future is unknown. All we can do is love. And trust in God. Faith is a gift, and I pray that you will receive it. And if we believers did a better job of trusting Him, we wouldn’t be the nation of fear that we sometimes seem to be. Every now and then, this is a crucial point to remember. Christian life and faith make all the difference.
KATHRYN LOPEZ is a senior fellow of the National Review Institute, editor-in-chief of National Review magazine and author of the new book “A Year With the Mystics: Visionary Wisdom for Daily Living”. She is also chair of Cardinal Dolan’s pro-life commission in New York.