DAILY CATHOLIC     MONDAY     October 11, 1999     vol. 10, no. 193


To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO and SECTION THREE

      Pat Ludwa, a committed lay Catholic from Cleveland, has been asked to contribute, on a regular basis, a lay person's point of view on the Church today. We have been impressed with his insight and the clear logic he brings to the table from his "view from the pew." In all humility, by his own admission, he feels he has very little to offer, but we're sure you'll agree with us that his viewpoint is exactly what millions of the silent majority of Catholics believe and have been trying to say as well. Pat puts it in words that help all of us better understand and convey to others what the Church teaches and we must believe.

    Today Pat illustrates how any "power" we possess comes ONLY from God. It does not come from within, or from crystals or mantras or self-hypnosis or any other New Age devices. Power within does not come from self-will but from submitting our wills to God's Will as Pat shows how the Son of God set the example with His fiat to His Father, "Not My will, but Thy will be done". Pat proceeds to show how God has shown man, without a shadow of a doubt, that He alone has the Power, not man and the faster we realize that, the better off we will all be and be able to not only accept whatever comes our way in life, but offer all joys and sufferings up to Him for merit and graces. In other words, we rev up that Power through our "Yes" to God and then can more readily run on all cylinders on the road to Heaven. That is the gist of Pat's column today, Whose Power?.

    If you want to send him ideas or feedback, you can reach him at KnightsCross@aol.com

Whose Power?

        We hear a lot today about power. In the political realm, power is defined as the amount one can punish or reward. For example, the US can 'reward' a nation with grants of money, technology, trade, or even military support. It can also 'punish' a nation by imposing sanctions, blockading, or even attacking the nation, overthrowing those in power. To illustrate this even further, when Stalin was about to do something, one of his advisors told him that the Vatican would oppose him. His response, "How many divisions does the Pope have?" Power, as the world sees it, has to do with imposing one's will on another, or giving someone something they need.

        In every day life, we hear radical feminists talk about 'empowering' women. We hear doctors and others speaking about 'empowering oneself' to heal. In the 70's we heard of the 'power' of crystals, pyramids, etc. Somewhere along the line, we forgot who really has the power, even though we 'remind' ourselves of it at least every Sunday. "For the kingdom, the POWER, and the glory are Yours, now and forever."

        Recently, I heard a doctor (during a week highlighting a search for a cure to breast cancer) speak of a women 'empowering' themselves and to 'visualize' themselves beating this cancer.

        Let's look at three hypothetical patients. The first is diagnosed with inoperable cancer. They begin treatment and 'visualize' themselves beating the cancer. Later, they do a follow up and find that the treatments were ineffective. Now what? Did their visualization fail because they had a tinge of doubt? Did they 'visualize' the wrong thing or the wrong way? They sought the power within themselves and came up empty. They slowly die in agony, particularly emotionally. What did they do wrong? The power was in themselves, it should have worked!!!

        Patient #2 gets the same diagnosis. However, they are a 'faith filled person'. They pray, they refer to Scripture where it says, "For truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you" (Matthew 17:20-21) They go in for their follow up and get the same results - it didn't work. What did they do wrong? They prayed and had faith!!! Maybe they didn't have enough faith? Maybe their taking medical treatment from the doctors showed a lack of faith? If they had real faith, they wouldn't have sought medical treatment but relied solely on God? They die slowly, again in agony, wondering what they could have done differently? If only they had greater faith.

        Patient #3 also gets the same diagnosis. However, they immediately get on their knees (either literally or figuratively) and say, "Not my will, but Thy will be done." They go for treatment and also get the bad news during the follow up. But here, we see that they did not prescribe any power to themselves. "Not My will but Thy will be done" (Luke 22: 42). They humbly submit to God's will, not seeing, but knowing that this is all according to God's will and plan. They die slowly, maybe in physical agony, but not emotional agony.

        "And which of you by being anxious can add a cubit to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass which is alive in the field today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O men of little faith!" (Luke 12:25-28).

        If we 'think' we can add one nano-second to our lives by seeking the power within, we only fool ourselves. The only 'power' within us is that of God, which 'we' either receive humbly or reject. There is no other 'god/dess' within. Who we 'enthrone' in our hearts determines our 'health'. Even medical doctors are amazed that some respond better to treatment when they 'surrender' themselves to God's will.

        "And He said to His disciples, 'Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat, nor about your body, what you shall put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing'" (Luke 12:22-23).

        "I tell you, My friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows" (Luke 12:4-7).

        Isn't it amazing that many of us put our trust in men? We give our life's saving to another to invest and increase, we give ourselves to doctors to inject drugs and other things into us to heal us, but we seem unable to 'trust' and give the power to God, who loves us so that He even knows the number of hairs on our head?

        For others, though, this 'power' lies not in themselves, nor in God, but in the things made by God.

        A new fad are these 'power' beads which people wear on their wrists. This is nothing more than a rehash of the old, New Age rhetoric of power in nature. (Notice how quickly this replaced the WWJD bracelets?) Various wrist bands, made up of different stones (crystals) are supposed to give us power, wealth, health, love, etc. "Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen" (Romans 1:24-25).

        Do we 'worship' moldy bread? (Penicillin) or chicken soup? (Reportedly good for colds?) If they do have healing properties, isn't it God Who gave them that 'power'? Do we worship the doctor who gives us the shot or performs the surgery? Or should we, instead, thank God who gave them that skill?

        "Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind: 'Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me. 'Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements - - surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst forth from the womb; when I made clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed bounds for it, and set bars and doors, and said, 'Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed?' 'Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it?

        'Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war? What is the way to the place where the light is distributed, or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth? Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain, and a way for the thunderbolt, to bring rain on a land where no man is, on the desert in which there is no man; to satisfy the waste and desolate land, and to make the ground put forth grass? Has the rain a father, or who has begotten the drops of dew? From whose womb did the ice come forth, and who has given birth to the hoarfrost of heaven? The waters become hard like stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.

        'Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades, or loose the cords of Orion? Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season, or can you guide the Bear with its children? Do you know the ordinances of the Heavens? Can you establish their rule on the earth? Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that a flood of waters may cover you? Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go and say to you, 'Here we are.' Who has put wisdom in the clouds, or given understanding to the mists? Who can number the clouds by wisdom? Or who can tilt the waterskins of the Heavens, when the dust runs into a mass and the clods cleave fast together? Can you hunt the prey for the lion, or satisfy the appetite of the young lions, when they crouch in their dens, or lie in wait in their covert? Who provides for the raven its prey, when its young ones cry to God, and wander about for lack of food?'" (Job 38:1-41).

        "Thus says the LORD: 'Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his arm, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit" (Jeremiah 17:5-8)

        Don't we see this today? Those who wish to 'empower' themselves live in a sad and oppressive world of their own making. They think that by forcing others to embrace their notions, they will receive peace. But this peace eludes them. But the person who 'empowers' Christ, lives in peace and joy. (Maybe not happiness, but the joy of doing God's will) "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid" (John 14:27).

        If God has the power, what do we have to fear? What is there to be anxious about? But if we hold fast to power, or try to create it within ourselves, then we set ourselves to fear, to be anxious.

        The burdens of life brings about it's own anxieties. Am I about to lose my job? Is this lump a cancer? We also create our own "I want to be a priest" (said by some women), "How dare anyone say I can't sleep with whomever I choose!" "It's my body, I'll do as I please." "No one can tell me what's right or wrong." And from these comes anxieties, dissent, rebellion, etc.

        But for us, the answers are simple. "Not My will, but Thine be done" (Luke 22: 42)

        "Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).

        " Then Jesus told His disciples, 'If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?'" (Matthew 16:24-26).

        "May the power of Your love, O Lord, fiery and sweet as honey, wean my heart from all that is under Heaven, so that I may die for love of Your love, You Who were so good as to die for love of my love" (St. Francis of Assisi).

        For the kingdom, the power, and glory are Yours, now and forever. Amen.

    Pax Christi, Pat

October 11, 1999       volume 10, no. 193


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