Wednesday, May 26, 2004
"I made it!"  

The other day on a Mother Angelica Live Classic episode, I heard Mother Angelica say that when she arrived in Purgatory, her first thought and her first words would be, "Yes! I made it!" On reflecting on this, I began to wonder whether I am living my life with the attitude which she expressed. Do I live this life as a grace-filled struggle in which I am striving to "make it" or do I become very casual in my efforts to live the Christian life? In other words, when Mother said those words, she really meant it because in those words are the release of a joy that all of the sorrow, the pain, the constant struggle against our spiritual enemies, and indeed the monotony of daily life offered up to God was worth it and in fact, absolutely necessary.

In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, St. Paul expresses this idea by equating the spiritual life to a race.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

When I was a freshman in high school, before I knew any better, I ran varsity track. I ran the one-mile event. This was four excruciating laps around the track. The only way I was able to keep running was to focus on the goal of finishing the race and by simultaneously focusing on the next thing I needed to do in the race. Maybe it was to round the next corner while keeping my position. Or perhaps it was to pass the very next person in front of me. Of course, one of the cardinal rules of running is to not look backward. The runner who looks backward will rarely be the one who finishes first. All of these lessons from running an actual race can be applied to our running in the spiritual race.

There are many days when the only thing you can focus on is the goal of Heaven. By concentrating on where we can, if we are faithful to the end, be with our Lord for eternity, we are able to overcome the struggles that beset us. This focus on the finish line often allows us to keep our legs and arms moving even when they feel like lead.

Most of the time, we have to plan for what is just the next thing in our spiritual life. Perhaps it has become clear there is an area of weakness that needs to addressed because it keeps coming up in our relationships with others. We have to pray and ask the Lord how to overcome this fault. At that moment that might be the most important thing on which to focus our energy. However, it is a crucial portion of our race.

Finally, we need to remember that we should not spend too much time looking back over our life. We should learn from our mistakes, but we cannot obsess on what has already happened when there is the present moment which requires our attention. This is one of the graces of confession. Our Lord "forgets" our sins. If, after a good confession, He no longer counts our sins against us, we should not be the ones to constantly place our sins before our eyes.

I hope, too, with Mother Angelica, to be able to say, "I made it!", but in order to do that later, our Lord makes it clear that I need to strive to do the making here and now.

Posted by David at 9:11 PM  |  Comments (0)  | 


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