Vespers Podcast: Am I still fasting?

Someone emailed asking, “are you still” praying and fasting?

Yes, I am. But remember – I’m not praying for a “win;” I’m praying that for the good of the country. Since my mind is not God’s I have no idea, taking the long view of things, what that might mean.

But I trust the longview. I know that things have a way of being “written straight with crooked letters.”

I’m thinking we’re in the middle of a mystery, that this whole, odd, unpredictable and too-long election season has been run along one of those threads connecting things seen and unseen, and we are so disoriented today that we do not really know which outcome is the outcome pleasing to God, and meant – by Him – to draw us into Himself.

The Holy Spirit, of course, uses whatever He chooses, to bring things about. Who knows if we are meant to be shaken, soundly, in order to be roused from our complacency and the status quo?

The sense I have is that the status quo won’t do any longer. That we are stagnant, too deeply comfortable in too much of the muck and mud of materialism, and we’ve lost sight of what and who we are meant to cling to.

I’m going to have the podcast for Vespers up in about an hour, and I’m going to include it in a tiny excerpt from a book I am reading – maybe two tiny excerpts – and I urge you to purchase it and read it now, don’t wait to give it away for Christmas.

The book is Mother Angelica’s Private and Pithy Lessons from the Scriptures, edited by Raymond Arroyo, in which this (by the world’s measure) mad-seeming little nun – very much the daughter of St. Francis of Assisi, who was also “too stupid” to know what he could not do (her words) – gets to the point and challenges the faith in surprising ways.

Here’s a small example: In discussing Gideon (Judges 6:10-16; 7:2-7) Mother Angelica reads Gideon saying, “how can I deliver Israel? My clan…is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least important in my family,” and she says:

He had the same idea we have today. You have to have a name to do anything, you have to be somebody or you have to belong to a particular class of people. You need a degree with a coupl of letters behind your name. Gideon had the same idea…”

She brings the scripture down to where Gideon ends up with a mere 300

“imbeciles God chose to save Israel. Gideon ended up with three hundred stupid idiots…he thought ‘Maybe I am not hearing God. What’s the whole purpose behind this?‘” [emphasis mine – admin]

Well, we see that the purpose was that God eliminated anyone from Gideon’s army who thought he knew better, trusted his own intellect, held on to pride, or wish to inject his own problem-solving skills into the event – not because those things are not valuable, but because we sometimes do not know when to put away our God-given gifts and just allow God to operate. Because men busily inserting their own thoughts or ambitions into the endeavor would have (in Auntie Lillie parlance) made a balls of His plans.

And how true is this in our own lives? I know it’s true in mine. We sometimes – often – get in God’s way, and in our own, because we can’t just leave a thing alone – back off, stop fussing with something or worrying, or picking at a scab – and give God room to work.

How Gideon and his tiny army of “dodos” defeated the enemy is fascinating to read. But I like what the Abbess says, here:

Today we are fighting tremendous invisible armies. Armies who are more intelligent than we are – evil spirits. We are weak, we are oppressed on every side by the flesh, the world, and the devil: the three great tempters. Gideon was strong with the strength of God. God wants to tell the whole world: I am going to do it. The weaker we are, the more confidence we should have. God uses the weak things of this world to confound the strong. Whether you are a child, an old person or a sick person, if you love Jesus, you can be a terror to the invisible foe.

As a cane-hobbled woman who started a global Catholic television and radio network in the garage of her abbey, with 200 bucks, Angelica would know. And she is only getting started. That’s just the early part of the book. It gets better and better.

My suggestion: buy these books. They do not pretend to be intellectual blockbusters, but spiritually, they’re as concrete and powerful as Aquinas. Buy the “Private and Pithy” one and it’s forerunner, Mother Angelica’s Little Book of Life Lessons and Everyday Spirituality – get them for yourself, right now, if you’re feeling overly anxious about the election, the economy or things in your personal life. Buy both of them because they’re very different, and distinctly valuable – and you will be glad you did. You may also – upon reading them – end up realizing that a large part of your Christmas shopping is all done.

Speaking of Christmas shopping, I just tried the Mystic Monks Royal Rum Pecan Coffee (see right sidebar) and I pronounce it…DESSERT. It’s so good. And it would be perfect for after-Thanksgiving dinner, too. Knocked my socks off.

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