"Vanities of vanities - everything is vanity."
Thus was the reading on this past Sunday morning, and it struck me profoundly
throughout Holy Mass and as my prayers continued afterward.
Our symphony to God in this earthly life must always be attuned to His
Most Perfect Will. If it is not, then we make discordant notes that
screech and howl, and call the demon to our side, where he plays with our
minds, our lives, and causes us profound anxiety, concern, worry and
strife. The demon propels us into lives whereby we work ceaselessly, as
was mentioned in last Sunday's Old Testament reading, and to what avail?
We justify our ceaseless work, we rationalize it. We say, I have to pay
my just debts. I have to clothe, educate, feed, and house my wife, my
children. I have to have transportation to and from my work. I have to
have some relaxation, and that takes money, so I have to work harder,
longer hours. Maybe I even have to change jobs, joining a corporation or
type of work that I do not want to do, but the money's good, and that's
what I need.
We buy lottery tickets, though the odds are profoundly against us, and we
humanly hope that we're going to be the lucky one this time - because we
really need the money so we can do what?
Think about the words from last Sunday's reading, and apply them to your own
life, and I have done since hearing them at early Mass, and pondering upon them.
Yes, Sacred Scripture tells us that we are to earn our daily bread by the
sweat of our brow, but nowhere in Sacred Scripture does it tell us that we
are to drive ourselves away from God in the process. Rather, this labor of
body and mind, to earn that which we are to have to sustain mortal life,
must become a process that is simplified.
We erroneously believe that in this present day and age, our lives are
simplified, because we have technology that instantly cooks a meal for us,
transportation that takes us miles in minutes, entertainment non-stop
around the clock of every type and variety (if we have the money to pay for
it), communication devices that link us to the other side of the world in
seconds, and so forth. One whose symphony is connected to the Divine Will,
to seeking and finding God in a very personal relationship, would thereby
conclude that with such modern devices freeing up huge chunks of time for
us each day, our churches would be filled for morning Mass daily, our
chapels of Perpetual Adoration would never find an empty kneeler, and we
would have precious hours to give to God in prayer, meditation and
Is this the case? There are, of course, a few dedicated souls who do take
this time and give it to God in the proper manner. But for most of us, we
choose, with a good coating of vanity, to take the extra time that our
mother and fathers devoted to laboring in the house or yard, to run hither
and yon doing errands, driving kids to one organized sport or group
activity after another; we bring to our homes the work that should have
limits set upon it, but we do it so that we can earn an extra buck, or
climb the corporate ladder, so that the endless "things" with which we
surround ourselves shall not be found wanting.
Sacred Scripture points that out very clearly. Why do we do these things, which do not propel us toward God, but rather away from him, making us ripe fodder for the evil one?
Because we have lost our conscience. Because we no longer have our
In this last week, as I have prayed over many things, struggling like
everyone else to keep on the straight and narrow path, God has placed upon
my heart a portion of the Holy Gospel in which Jesus sends His disciples
and apostles out to preach.
Jesus tells them they are to go with only the clothes on their back. They
are not to carry an extra cloak, or an extra pair of sandals; they are not
to carry food, but only a walking staff, and they are to go and evangelize
in His name, for the sake of the Gospel.
If Jesus were to tell us to go and evangelize (which He does each and
every day) we would not hear these words. We'd pack up all of our
belongings. We'd have more suitcases of "stuff" than you could cram into
the trunk of a van, and we'd haul these things with us, and think that we
were right in doing so. But this isn't what Jesus wanted of His disciples,
and it's not what He wants from us.
To make our symphony of suffering in this life one that compliments and
completes the Eternal Symphony of Heaven, we have to take His words to
heart and live them.
All of the stuff with which we fill our life is vanity if it holds us
down, holds us back from freeing our soul to fly to God and breathe
celestial air. And we are held down, and held back, because we live in an
affluent society that pushes us to have even more, to want more, and we'll
go to any length to have it, because it's good and makes us feel good.
Jesus told us in Sacred Scripture to set our sight upon Him, upon Heaven,
for that is our goal. Anything or anyone that gets in the way of that
goal, we must put aside. Are we doing that?
If we were, then we would not be living in the End Times. We would not be
living in a society so evil that it surpasses even Sodom and Gomorrah. We
are so burdened by "things" and the ability to possess these "things" that
we don't even realize that vanity fills us to the core. We work, thinking
it pleases God, but perhaps we should all take this week to ask ourselves
if our endless work does please Him?
I'm not suggesting that we all quit our work, become hermits in the
desert, or anything like that. Rather, I am suggesting as God has put on
my heart, that in each of our lives there is a way to simplify things so
that the time to be given to God shall be given. We can't evangelize if we
don't belong fully to Him to begin with, and our efforts fall short of the
mark and make discordant melody when we try.
If our Symphony of Suffering is to be heard in Heaven, then we must take
this week, each day, to see where we can cut back on our self-seeking, our
vanity. If we do this with a sincere heart, the Holy Spirit will enlighten
each one of us, and show us the error of our ways, and we can turn down
that straight and narrow path that leads to our goal-God.
I am going to spend this week thinking of "vanity" as I have never
pondered it before, and I will pray that you will join with me. If we are
free of "vanity" then the symphony becomes pleasing to God, and the Triumph
of Mary's Immaculate Heart will be hastened.