I imagined that would get your attention.
I once had a Confessor named Fr. Kennedy, a priest of the diocese of Brooklyn, New York. He was a chain smoking rough soul, with a wry wit, an extremely direct manner, who was selfless to the extreme, and truly holy in an unnoticeable kind of way. And a fantastic Confessor who helped teach me hatred of sin and love for God are one thing.
He would smoke during our face to face confessions, and when I was finished he would always say the same thing, “Well, Neal, as usual you’re full of pride and arrogance.” And then he would blow smoke in my face. You had to know him to understand.
Once we were chit chatting after Confession, and I was sharing with him the story of something that had gone very wrong in my life after I had made some decisions that backfired. After sharing the story, I quipped, “Must not have been God’s will.” He immediately turned serious, and said:
Bullshit! Don’t let yourself off the hook and blame God for how things turned out. Take responsibility, boy! How on earth can you say you know what God wanted or didn’t want. How arrogant! You screwed up, learn from it. That’s God’s will.
I was taken aback, as it was an offhanded comment. But wow was I glad he said that, as I realized at the time how much I would use such pious drivel to make God a cover for my own shortcomings, and subtly canonize myself Victim and Martyr. I used God’s permissive will permissively, to sanctify my mediocrity, giving me permission to not face the music and be accountable to experiencing the full weight of my own freedom and its grave consequences.