Our freedom always has this marvelous power to make what is taken from us—by life, events, or other people—into something offered. Externally there is no visible difference, but internally everything is transfigured: fate into free choice, constraint into love, loss into fruitfulness. Human freedom is of absolutely unheard-of greatness. It does not confer the power to change everything, but it does empower us to give a meaning to everything, even meaningless things; and that is much better. We are not always masters of the unfolding of our lives, but we can always be masters of the meaning we give them. Our freedom can transform any event in our lives into an expression of love, abandonment, trust, hope, and offering. The most important and most fruitful acts of our freedom are not those by which we transform the outside world as those by which we change our inner attitude in light of the faith that God can bring good out of everything without exception.
Lacking hope, we don’t really believe God can make us happy, and so we construct our happiness out of covetousness and lust. We don’t wait to find the fullness of our existence in God, and so we shape an artificial identity grounded in pride. Or else—the most common condition among people of good will—we would like to love and be generous in loving and giving ourselves, but we are held back by fears, hesitations, and worries. Lack of trust in what God’s grace can do in our lives, and what we can do with his help, leads to a shrinkage of the heart, a lessening of charity. But, as St. Thérèse of Lisieux said, trust leads to love.
But a look at our tradition will show that faith is really the opposite of certitude. Rather, it is being willing to move into darkness, into not being sure. It means taking risks, allowing ourselves to be taken advantage of, having the grace to move through chancy, uncertain waters, letting go of control and trusting that God will always be there. It means living with the mystery of things, not knowing for sure what’s going to happen or that it’ll turn out okay.
Minority calls to be and feel oneself little before God, entrusting oneself totally to his infinite mercy. The prospect of mercy is incomprehensible for all those who do not recognize themselves as “minors,” that is, little ones, needy and sinful before God. The more aware we are of this, the closer we are to salvation; the more we are convinced that we are sinners, the more we are disposed to be saved. It happens thus in the Gospel: The persons who recognize themselves poor before Jesus are saved; instead one who thinks he has no need does not receive salvation, not because it is not offered to him, but because he has not received it. Minority also means to come out of oneself, of one’s schemes and personal views; it means to go beyond the structures — which are also useful if used wisely –, to go beyond habits and securities, to witness concrete closeness to the poor, to the needy, to the marginalized in a genuine attitude of sharing and service.
There is a paradoxical kind of power in being willing to sweep away the idols we make of our plans. When Saint Paul writes that “for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10), he is telling us when he surrenders the notion that he could accomplish anything on his own, he discovers that God, working through him, does wonders beyond his own meager imaginings. It is precisely the same with our plans. When we stop insisting upon them and permit God to throw us a curve, and answer it with trust, wonders come our way.
This article of the Rule (Article 11) calls us to begin where Francis did, trusting in God, for without this trust we can do nothing. Francis chose exactly what Christ chose and nothing more: he chose a poor and humble life. Are we called to give up everything as Francis did? No, but we are to give up our inordinate possession of things. The rich young man, whom Jesus looked upon with love, turned from Jesus because his possessions were many.
~ Teresa V. Baker, OFS, For Up to Now (FUN), Chapter 12: “The Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order”
It bears repeating: this Pontiff is continuing a lesson in trust that was begun the moment his predecessor announced his resignation. There is a sense that both Benedict XVI, and now Francis, are quite comfortable tossing everything into the path of the Holy Spirit — and seemingly taking great risks with their words or their actions — and trusting that the Holy Spirit will see it all to rights.
That we need these lessons modeled for us so starkly suggests to me that we are being made fit for something. Perhaps they are only trying to teach us to trust even in what can seem like a benign day-to-day, but I wonder if we are not being prepared for a time when we will, as Catholic Christians, have to run on trust, alone.
~ Elizabeth Scalia, Re Translating Francis’ Interview with Eugenio Scalfari
We forget we are not here to stay. The temptation is to turn outward to the world and only trust what we see but we need to turn inward and trust the voice that is trying to speak from within.
~ Fr. Wayne Sattler via Catholic Stand
When we decide that we want to live life God’s way instead of our way, we are going to have to give up our way and trust that God’s way is better. I have often quoted my spiritual director, who has said to me repeatedly that the theme song of those in hell is, “I did it my way.”
~Fr. Larry Richards, Surrender! The Life Changing Power of Doing God’s Will
Christians should know better than most that we are not in ultimate control of our lives, and therefore be better at flourishing in situations which call for us to give up the illusion of control. But are we? Living in a culture which celebrates self-actualization above almost everything else makes this a very difficult counter-cultural practice. Indeed, I count myself among the Christians who need to get better at trusting in God and giving up the illusion of control.