So, our friends the Dominican Nuns of Summit, NJ have welcomed a new postulant to their cloisters, a former youth minister who needed to settle quite a bit of debt in order to enter.
As she chronicled her journey at her blog, it was fascinating to watch how — as her entrance date approached — things just fell into place, with large donations seeming to come out of nowhere; suddenly, her impediments were gone.
If God wants something to happen, nothing can stop it. And if he doesn’t want something to happen, no amount of pleading can “make” it happen. And if we manage — through sheer cussedness and determination — to get the thing we insist on having, regardless of what God might be telling one? Most often we find that the thing we’ve forced is, like a bulb forced before spring, short-lived; lacking fragrance; not what you thought it would be; joy-deficient; missing a certain authenticity.
Just as we cannot force love, we cannot force our fates. Abandonment to Divine Providence is the key; four words that sound so simple but are so, so difficult. It’s the lesson we learn over and over again in our lifetimes.
“If the work of our sanctification presents us with difficulties that appear insurmountable, it is because we do not look at it in the right way. In reality, holiness consists in one thing alone, namely, fidelity to God’s plan. And this fidelity is equally within everyone’s capacity in both its active and passive exercise.”
― Jean-Pierre de Caussade, Abandonment to Divine Providence
A perfect instruction, perhaps, as regards the current infighting within the church; people are pulling and pulling, and insisting on their ways; they say “mine!” or “Conform!” or “Change!” And it is all so much sound and fury, signifying nothing in the immensity of God’s ways and will.
And perfect instruction for all of our lives, no matter how entangled they seem to be.
I’m glad Sister Deepa — whose “story” suggests she was standing in her own way for a while — decided to get out of God’s way and allow him to take care of her. Reminds me a bit of what Fr. Dwight wrote here:
God is very gentle and easy going. If you want to look after yourself and work hard to earn a huge salary and buy health insurance and pay in to your life insurance plan and set up a neat and sensible retirement investment portfolio and do everything yourself God is good with that. He says, “You just go ahead then and set up all your safety nets and your sensible plans and prudent savings. I still love you, but I’m letting you get on with your little plans. However, if you want to live a life that is truly abundant and free and dynamic and alive in the Spirit–do something more radical.
Give it all away. Then you will see miracles.
If God wants it, nothing can stop it — but we can certainly get in our own ways. I must remember that and stop struggling to finish my book.
A mindset conformed to his will, rather than one’s own, and trusting that God knows what he wants for us: it’s a very old lesson that keeps striking us as new, whenever we stop to think of it.
UPDATE: Speaking of entanglements, while vocations are on the rise, the heavy debt of student loans are keeping some young men and women from answering the call to become priests and religious. I got an email the other day from a young nurse who hopes to enter an active Dominican community, if she can resolve her debt. So is this young woman who hopes to try her vocation as a contemplative Benedictine.