…Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat? (Jn 6:5)
My dear brethren,
There are times in our lives when we feel that everything is conspiring against us. Little things such as the rain outside, or being late for work, or school, or Mass, or having a leak in the roof. Big things too are always ready to leap the fore of our minds: financial worries, worries about a husband, wife or children, worries about the great apostacy in the Church, worries that make you go round and round in your thoughts in a vain search for a solution.
There is no-one about that can help us, we find ourselves alone in the darkness of uncertainty and the roaring clamour of confusion. Hell must be like this.
“I can’t do it” we say to ourselves in despair, “I can’t do it!” And then like an echo, an inspiration, we hear a distant voice “You can’t do it. You can’t do it without Me.”
We fall at His feet, at the foot of the cross, and we acknowledge our dependence, our willing dependence. He becomes our solace, our comfort, our strength: "Here I am Lord, wretched as I am, I am nothing and I need You, now, please help."
It is like emerging from a crowded, noisy, hot stuffy room into the peace of a summers’ evening or a sunny spring morning. We breathe deeply the cool air and help comes - often in way that we least expect - at the darkest hour, just as it was beginning to wane, just as we had started to give up.
It is only when we look back on the events sometime later that we can discern the hand of Providence. God is the cause of everything except evil, but God allows evil to happen for a reason. It is only when we stand back that we can see the good that is occasioned by everything that worries us: whether it be acknowledgement of our own weakness - a disordered attachment, a choleric temperament, a wilfulness, a selfishness or a jealousy - or whether it be for the strengthening of our spiritual life: an increase in faith and hope above all things.
Jesus sees our needs, He knows them before we do. Philip and Andrew cannot see the solution in the gospel today and cast about despairingly. The boy has the answer: knowing that he had not enough, he offered all that he had. He had faith and hope. His derisory offering was nothing: five barley loaves and two fishes to feed five thousand 5000, but nevertheless HE GIVES HIS ALL TO OUR LORD. And God did the rest, producing results which exceeded all expectation.
Let us not despair in the face of our troubles or indeed of our feeble attempts at mortification so far this Lent! Whatever we have, we must give everything to Our Blessed Lord - so that he can transform it and fill our souls beyond every expectation.
Here is a passage from a letter written by Fr. Willie Doyle sj to a spiritual dirigée that captures perfectly the message we wish to convey:
Surely, my child, you are not surprised to find that you have broken your resolution, or rather, that the devil has gained a victory over you. I am convinced from a pretty big experience that perfection, that is sanctity, is only to be won by repeated failures. If you rise again after a fall, sorry for the pain given to our Lord, humbled by it, since you see better your real weakness, and determined to make another start, far more is gained than if you had gone on without a stumble. Besides, to expect to keep any resolution, till repeated acts have made it solid in the soul, is like expecting to learn skating, for example, without ever falling. The more falls; the better (that is if you do not mind bumps), for every fall means that we have begun again, have made another effort and so have made progress. I mention this because I know that you like myself are given to discouragement and tempted to give up all when failure comes.
And here is another one from Fr. Jean Pierre de Caussade sj, the Jesuit author of the classic book Abandonment to Divine Providence:
Believe me, my dear Sister, and place your whole confidence in God through Jesus Christ; abandon yourself more and more entirely to Him, in all, and for all, and you will find by your own experience that He will always come to your assistance when you require His help. He will become your Master, your Guide, your Support, your Protector, your invincible Upholder. Then nothing will be wanting to you because, possessing God you possess all.
Let us pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary that we may follow this advice, which was her advice too for her last words recorded in scripture tell us to abondon our will to Him: "Do whatever He tells you." (Jn 2:5). Make Him the King of our hearts, our wills, and, instead of fleeing to the mountains to escape the crowds who wanted to make Him king, He did He will make there an abode.