Messy Magnanimity

God instructs the heart, not by ideas but by pains and contradictions. ― Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Why? I, for one, would prefer ideas. But ideas alone remain in the head, allowing us to become spectators of Truth. Acquiring Truth through the brambles of “pains and contradictions” frees us to choose it or reject it, to pay a price for it and so revere it and love it, whence Truth enters the heart. There knowledge gained transforms, metabolizing ideas into wisdom and virtue, making us not simply knowledgeable but magnanimous, “great souled.”

A friend of mine was going through a really rough patch in work, and spoke to his Confessor about his woes. The priest gave him advice that, he said, was bitter to the taste, but sweet in giving him a sense of freedom. I wrote my own thoughts that night in my journal, reflecting on the priest’s advice. Here’s part of what I said:

You have a real choice to discern. Learn to embrace the cross in your work as a path to sanctity, and stop kicking against the goads, or humbly acknowledge your limits and try to find another job. But you can’t have it both ways. To live in a constant state of dissatisfaction, complaining endlessly that God is not showing you His will is a dead end you’ll never exit from.

If you choose to leave, know the cross awaits you wherever you go next. Have no illusions. But also know He is there bearing that cross already for you. Realize also that if you choose to stay and embrace the cross you shoulder now, while it won’t necessarily make things any easier, it will make you a saint. The key to both? Knowing His will is always found entirely present in every moment, regardless. We’re only tasked with embracing the cross in trust and love, not with resolving every problem.

And “embrace” doesn’t mean you just grit your teeth and bear it Stoically, stupidly. It means finding grace in each moment, and then using your graced wit to discover ways of creatively and courageously maximizing the good and minimizing evil. Then each Sunday, unload on the Altar the whole unruly, stinky batch of dough you’ve kneaded, and give a hearty consent for its consecration by the Spirit in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mess.

Then meditate when you receive Holy Communion on the truth that, in that consecrated Host, you’ve already received the whole Answer to your every cry and plea…

5 comments on “Messy Magnanimity

  1. Carolyn Haar says:

    Incredibly beautiful and meaningful…

    • Carolyn:
      For one who lives in this Way, yes, it is.
      Thank you for you.

      • Katy says:

        Carolyn and Tom – love your exchange here. Thank you.

        It reminds me of this from Fr. Wilfred Stinissen’s “Into Your Hands, Father”:

        “Fighting against reality is arduous; accepting reality always results in relief and liberation.”

        And thankfully, “accepting reality” is one of those things that, the more we do it, the easier it is to do. Knowing the peace, ease, relief, healing, and life that comes from accepting reality makes me want to do it more and more and more. It really is better this way (though gosh, I’ve protested).

        I remember when I was contemplating leaving one teaching job to teach at another school. My dad said “Katy, you don’t owe them anything. It’s not bad to look at other places.” and “You know, your contract is for one year. If you don’t like it, leave.” and “Interviewing is not the same thing as accepting a job”. Such clarity, such relief. Advice that looked reality straight in the face. Advice that helped me walk through what I thought was ‘muck’ but soon learned was just another normal road.

        What a Fatherly response: “Learn to embrace the cross in your work as a path to sanctity, and stop kicking against the goads, or humbly acknowledge your limits and try to find another job.”

        There’s such relief in saying (or hearing someone else say) the words that need to be said. Thank God for people like this. And thank God for the gift of receiving these words.

        And thank you, as always, for posting.

  2. tmm says:

    AM greetings DTJN, the result of reading this post is the explosion of fireworks. Amens and amens are brilliantly displayed everywhere. A read and a reread aids in digesting, which enables the savoring of every morsel of truth. The first time around the concentration was centered on a “two for one”: embracing the cross is a path to sanctity and also it seems it can be a reparative means to bypass the “go to purgatory” holdup. Without a doubt, a boarding pass for a non stop flight is the only one of interest, so the time for taking care of business is now. A reread centered on the concept that one size fits all. Jesus is the answer for every problem, in every age, for everyone until the end of time, alleluia and thanks be to God. That we receive Him totally in Holy Eucharist, what is my problem? The captain of the ship will see me through every storm, for the occurrence is sanctification or reparation. Therefore, it’s for me to embrace the present moment gallantly. Thank you for jumpstarting my spiritual day and helping to straighten out priorities, which is to live the present moment acceptingly. The bitter cup may or may not pass, the cup of sweetness can’t last, but Blessed be God in all things.

    💝Blessed B God in all His beautiful gifts
    Rest assured, there are no maybe’s or if’s
    If one is open, the truth always uplifts
    / \ tmm/PTL

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