Written by: Br. Brian Poulin
Saturday of the Fourth Week of Easter
I don’t plan everything, but I do plan a whole lot. At the same time, I recognize that the world has never fallen apart because something didn’t go according to my schedule. Although I don’t believe God to be a micromanaging puppet master pulling all the strings, it’s hard not to imagine a divine plan when things so often seem to fall into place just so. Is it really a manner of God’s timing or is it a manifestation of God’s ability to redeem any moment in time that we deign to offer up?
In my work, I often have to tell a bit of my own vocation story—it’s an occupational hazard I must endure. One key element of my biography that I almost always include, even in the briefest versions, is that I spent about thirteen years of my life as a solidly lapsed Catholic, beginning while I was in high school. My return to Church pretty much coincided with a period of profound heartbreak in my life. However, I didn’t return to Church in a search for consolation. Instead, this reentry serendipitously preceded my personal tumult, thereby allowing me access to greater spiritual resources in a time of significant personal difficulty.
Much of my work also involves me listening to others share their stories and helping them to harvest the fruits of their experiences that only reflection can bring. Without intending to give cover to mere indolent procrastination, I often hear from people who were forced to delay eagerly anticipated plans only to discover that the new arrangement forced on them by circumstance ended up providing unforeseeable blessings. The joke in some of our USA Marist circles is that ‘Plan B’ stands for ‘better.’
The concept of ‘God’s time’ remains tricky for me. I think the answer ends up being that God works wonders with anything that I refrain from interfering with. Whenever I am able to strike the balance of taking appropriate action while retaining circumspect humility about my ability to truly be in control, I have a much better chance of working in alignment with God’s purpose rather than making an idol of my own preferences. St. Francis asked to be made a channel of Christ’s peace, not to be an arbiter of peace according to his own understanding.
There’s an awful lot that is ours to receive when we’re not too busy trying to take. But we also need to cooperate in order to receive.
This month’s ‘ear candy’ is a lesser known classic about seeking the right timing by simply waiting. And with regards to long-awaited developments, the ‘brain candy’ offers some perspective on recent Church news that may Catholics are currently celebrating.
Ear Candy: “I Am Waiting” by The Rolling Stones
Brain Food: “Synodality Is Working: Women Getting a Vote at the Vatican Is the Latest Proof” by Sebastian Gomes
Come back on the first Saturday of next month for a new post!