Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

What to do, what to do?

The thing of it is that we're supposed to do what God wants us to do. We do that and we're golden, man!

That part is easy. In fact, it's so easy many people just quit after this point, because the topography gets not-so-horizontal.

The hard part is figuring out what it is that God wants from us. A good clue is to examine* two things:

1- Your gifts


2- Your flaws

The gifts part is pretty easy. This is the stuff people usually tell you you have and that make you go all "aw, shucks" when you realize it's true. (As opposed to flattery...beware flattery. Ask Dante what happens to the flatterers.) Anyway, make a list of your gifts and, afterwards rank them, not according to importance (say, putting "healing the sick" over "makes a banana pudding") but according to your proficiency with that gift. Why? Because, just maybe, the way YOUR gift of healing works is that you're the guy who always has a first aid kit and the way your gift in making a banana pudding is SO BLOODY UNBELIEVABLE that it makes people aware of the majesty that is our Creator and His infinite wisdom in making the banana plant.

It also shows you where you need to be concentrating** more. Which is nice.

So get right on that, will ya?

Seeing as how we move from easy, to less easy, to not-so-easy-now-is-it-?, to Gettin' Kinda Rough we enumerate our flaws. (I could spend all day enumerating my flaws, and even longer typing them out. But I won't bore you. Suffice it to say there is nothing like "simony" or that sorta thing involved.)

When you enumerate your sins, try putting them in the order of how susceptible you are to temptation in that regard. (This, ladies and gentlemen, will help you map out your near-occasions of sin, which is also nice.)

Now that you finally have all THAT--and it will take a while--you have an idea what the place where God wants you to be looks like. That place will be where you can use all of your gifts (after all, God gave them, all of them, to you for a reason) and where your flaws will encounter minimal temptation to come out and play. No, it doesn't give you a map of the place God wants you to inhabit, it gives you the photograph of what the building looks like. And that's as far as you can go on your own, pal.

At this point, you need to pray for guidance. A patron saint to help out wouldn't exactly kill you, either? But the matter you have to remember is Ora Et Labora. Meaning that you have to do your bit too. You can't expect God to ALWAYS drop a little sign on a parachute just for your convenience. Sometimes you have to go, to schlep, to where the sign is. So you schlep, and via this schleppage, you grow so that by the time you get and understand this sign you will be in a position (mentally, spiritually, etc.) to act on it.

The other thing is to have a sense of timing. Sometimes God wants you to, literally, drop everything RIGHT NOW. (For example, St. Matthew 8:22 or St. Luke 9:60) Other times God wants you to be patient. (For instance, Isaiah 40:31) A good rule is that if you are to show celerity (oooh, SAT word...) God will let you know. Otherwise, be patient. Now patient doesn't mean for you to twiddle your thumbs and whistle the theme from "Jeopardy!" because in the meantime God will give you plenty of stuff to do meanwhile. Pray that the stuff God's put on your plate will be stuff you can use to discern what He wants you to do. More often than not, because we're fallible humans trying to figure out the infinitely perfect, we will misread, we will hit dead ends, will have to backtrack, start over, spin, make turns, zig-zag and otherwise stand at the side of the road, scratching our heads and looking mighty confused.

This all goes with what I had blogged before (in fact, I should have inverted these two things, but hey, I'm all about the chronological here). The last thing to do is to cleanse your mind of what you want God's answer to be. It won't go well if we approach God with a request for guidance that has a "hint-hint" (What do you want me to be, Lord? I was thinking Internet zillionaire...for your greater glory, sure.) appended thereto that deep down only appeals to our vanity*** or assume that whatever God wants you to do is something He wants you to do right now.

More on this later.



* An examination of conscience would seem extra handy just about now.
** Your gifts are not hardware, nor software, but firmware. They need to be kept up and exercised and updated.
*** See? Examination of conscience bustin' out all over the place!