Another Everything is Grace sermon from a beloved former pastor. This one is from a few months ago, but still worthy of reflection. We all need a “regulated soul” to live and move as a part of this world but remain focused on our eternal happiness in heaven. If we allow ourselves to be led in this world alone, our souls will begin to function in a purely worldly manner and unsettle the soul.
Wednesday, Week IV
Eighth Week of Ordinary Time
‘In my God is the joy of my soul.’
Everything is Grace
This verse from the Canticle of Isaiah sounds lovely but let us examine to what extent it is true for you and I. Our five external senses are faculties of the human soul. (Sight, touch, hearing, smell, and taste.) To be sure, my soul finds delight in many good things my senses encounter. A delicious meal, the smell of fresh cut grass, a beautiful sunset, etc.
A well-regulated soul will experience these delights properly; the lower faculties are subordinate to the higher faculties of the soul- the intellect and the will. When the intellect and the will rule the soul, all is well. So upon seeing that sunset, my mind and my heart are lifted up to God and I praise Him- the Creator- for the beauty of creation.
Sometimes though our senses take in too much or they take in distorted goods and they become overpowered and enslaved. The soul becomes dis-regulated and the higher faculties are no longer in charge and the soul is led about by the lower faculties, like a dog on a leash, desperately seeking joy in created goods.
Nonetheless even the most disordered soul can’t help but seek what is good, even though it may be totally confused about what the good is. Hence, that quote which is often attributed to Chesterton: ‘Every man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God.’
Today in the Office of Readings we heard a portion of the life story of St. Augustine from his book, Confessions. He reflects on how he searched for God in the external things of the world, all the while God was with him on his interior. At the end of the passage, he explains how God even overwhelmed his five senses with His love and beauty. Listen:
‘Late have I loved you, O beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness, I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you; now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.’
A rightly ordered soul is the goal. It is the fruit of keeping the Lord’s statutes and commandments, living a mortified life, practicing the virtues and daily mental prayer