Recently I went into an Adoration chapel and lit a St. Joseph candle. Two, actually. I needed (read: NEED) help with something which I consider quite significant and he’s my go-to man.
Now, possibly I’m the only one that does this, but I always have a “thing” about which candle to light. If I feel like I need to be humble about something, I light one on the lowest level, if it’s urgent I go high, if I’m just being casually conversational (like that ever happens, but if it did) maybe mid-range.
This particular candle stand happens to be right between the Blessed Sacrament and St. Joseph. Sometimes I go more towards Jesus but usually I go more towards Papa Joe. I feel Jesus is no more offended about this than I would be if one of my friends walked in and started talking to my dad, which is exactly as much as not offended at all. Besides, St. Joseph is just going to turn around and start talking to Jesus about it anyway (snitch), so it’s all the same conversation anyway.
Back to this particular visit: after a moment’s hesitation I lit ones as absolutely close to St. Joseph as I could get and thought with some vehemence: “You. Yeah, you. You know all about trusting and being in hard places and not knowing where you’d end up and working hard for a living and doing things that looked crazy to other people and your feast day is coming up so here’s your chance to go big for the big day so YOU. YOU FIX THIS.”
He seemed very understanding about the whole thing, really.
I know exactly what my problem is though.
As an annoyingly wise person informed me once, “Be careful what you ask for – when you ask God for a gift He gives you chances to use it.”
My problem is…I prayed.
Trust is for fools. Waiting on God’s timing is for fools, too.
Then again, so is letting someone smear ashes on your forehead.
And sitting in front of something that looks like a golden sunburst with Bread inside.
Yet here I am. Here we are, twenty centuries later. Sitting in front of our silent sunbursts, staring into His Face. Smearing ashes on our foreheads, looking to be humble in our hearts. Praying for trust and patience while we try to muster the heart-strength to soldier on in the dark.
“The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
For it is written:
‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the learning of the learned I will set aside.’
Where is the wise one? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish?…For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. Consider your own calling, brothers. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful…Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong.”
1 Corinthians 1:18-21, 25-27
Foolishness…it can be quite a matter of perspective, can’t it?
Lent has a real knack for adjusting perspectives. The liturgical calendar fits in and around life amazingly well.
As does G.K. Chesterton’s poetry:
“The men of the east may spell the stars
and times and triumphs mark,
But the men signed of the Cross of Christ
Go gaily in the dark.
You and all the kind of Christ
Are ignorant and brave,
And you have wars you hardly win
And souls you hardly save.
I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.
Night shall be thrice night over you,
And heaven an iron cope.
Do you have joy without a cause,
Yea, faith without a hope?”
There is hope, and more than hope. May we all pray boldly to find the foolishness God has for our Lent and our lives.