"Luck" Has Nothing to Do With Anything
Thomas A. Droleskey
Several people in Florida and Alabama were quoted a few days ago as saying that they had gotten "lucky" with Hurricane Dennis, which decreased in intensity as it hit land on Sunday, July 10, 2005, causing far less damage than had been anticipated. Well, "luck" has nothing to do with anything. There is no such thing as "luck," whether good or bad. Everything that happens in the world happens within the Providence of God, Who knows all things and provides us with the graces sufficient to deal with whatever difficulties or disasters befall us in the course of our daily lives.
The totality of God's Revelation has been entrusted solely to the Church He founded upon the Rock of Peter, the Pope. The Ten Commandments, which had been given to Moses whilst he conversed with God face-to-face on Mount Sinai, have been entrusted completely to the Catholic Church alone for their sake keeping and explication. It is not possible to understand the Ten Commandments authentically, no less number them properly, absent a complete and total subordination to the Deposit of Faith that Our Lord has given unto His Mystical Bride, Holy Mother Church. (See, for example. "Whose Commandments?", which has been posted on this site and is included in Restoring Christ as the King of All Nations.)
The First Commandment, therefore, can be understood fully only in light of its explication by the Catholic Church. And the Church teaches us that the First Commandment requires us to know, to love, and to serve God--Father, Son, and Holy Ghost--as He has revealed Himself through His true Church. Part of knowing God is to accept the fact that He is Omniscience and that He is Omnipotence. He is all-knowing and He is all powerful. God, Who exists outside of time and space, knows and sees both the beginning and the end of time. Everything is an "instant now" for God, a concept that our temporal minds can faintly even begin to accept no less understand. Everything that happens occurs at a time that has been known by God from all eternity.
For example, I noted in a brief update on this site's home page yesterday, July 11, 2005, that the shard of a truck tire had ripped through the bottom of our motor home as we were driving a bit south of Ennis, Texas, on Interstate Highway 45 at 4:45 a.m. on July 9, ripping apart our exhaust system and damaging our holding tanks. We did not know whether it was safe to drive the vehicle until daylight, and even then we had to stop when the carbon monoxide detector went off, indicating that exhaust fumes were pouring into the motor home itself. We limped into a repair shop in Pasadena, Texas, some 245 miles or so from where the incident occurred, having to deal with a surly "good ole' boy" who was very careless with our motor home as he placed it on an outdoor service rack that was clearly not wide enough to accommodate our motor home, ripping off our driver's side mirror in the process. As I told my wife Sharon at the time, "God has known from all eternity that this would occur today for His greater honor and glory and for our sanctification. All to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, we love you, save souls!"
As Catholics, we must come to understand over the course of a lifetime (and it has taken me into my fifties to be a bit more sanguine in the midst of unexpected difficulties) that the graces won for us by the shedding of Our Lord's Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross are sufficient to handle whatever difficulties, great or small, that we are asked to bear at every single moment of our lives, bar none. Each cross we encounter, including an impending tropical storm or hurricane, is perfectly fitted for us. God loves us so completely that He never fashions any cross for us that is beyond our unique individual capacity to bear in cooperation with His graces. And God is so merciful to us erring, recidivist sinners that He never permits us to suffer in this life as our sins truly deserve. He never permits the adversary, who does indeed want to throw all manner of obstacles in our way to see if he can get us to denounce and renounce God as He has revealed Himself through His true Church, to have the final say in the events of our lives. Our Lord wants us to meet every challenge, great or small, that comes our way with complete and total trust in Him, a fundamental prerequisite of the First Commandment.
Furthermore, we must understand that we have a company of Heavenly helpers, starting with the Blessed Mother herself, to aid us as we encounter unexpected crosses and difficulties. Any person who is a consecrated slave of Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart must rely tenderly on her maternal intercession as he freely gives away any and all merit that he might earn from an indulgenced prayer or act or from a steadfast embrace of the cross and the practice of the virtues of the interior life in the midst of difficult situations and unpleasant people. We are never alone in whatever situation we find ourselves. Our Lady, Saint Joseph, our Guardian Angels, our Patron Saints and all of the souls of the Church Suffering and the Church Triumphant are there to pray for us if we call upon them with child-like confidence and joy. There is only one path to Heaven: the Cross. Bearing our own crosses, great or small, as consecrated slaves of Our Lady, knowing that she will use whatever we give her for the honor and glory of the Blessed Trinity and for the good of souls, including our own.
God's mysterious plans for each of us and for the times in which we live will be made totally clear to us only in eternity, please God that we persist until our dying breaths in states of sanctifying grace. That is, it is not for us know why one person gets cancer and another person does not. It is not for us to know why a young mother is called to her Particular Judgment in her twenties while her own mother lives to be her in nineties. It is not for us to know why Hurricane Ivan is permitted to devastate lives and property while Hurricane Dennis is tempered before hitting land. These things are known only to God Himself. We must trust that God means to bring good out of all of the events of the world.
Our Faith does teach us, however, that we can discern a little bit of God's ways in this life. One who loves God with his own mind, heart, soul and strength and who has no strange gods before him can see the wisdom of God in everything circumstance and event of this life even though a fuller understanding will have to await until eternity.
A person with cancer, for example, is being given the opportunity to die a good death and to give others an example as to how to die a good death. Father Stephen Zigrang, with whom we have enjoyed visiting here in Dickinson, Texas, the past few days, has given a retreat based on the book written by Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Preparing for Death. A cancer victim has time to prepare even if his cancer is to go into remission at some point. Indeed, cancer is one of the most merciful things that a person can experience: God gives such a person a chance to be purified through the crucible of painful suffering before death so as to be more ready to enter into eternity without much, if any, of a debt to pay back in Purgatory.
A young mother who leaves behind, say, five or six children, while still in her twenties can do far more for her family from eternity, whether in Purgatory or in Heaven, than she ever could here on earth, as difficult as it is for us to accept this in our world of human sentimentality and emotionalism. Prayers offered for us from eternity are purified of all self-interest and disordered self-love as they are attached solely to God's Will alone. Oh, yes, those who are left behind grieve. The void caused by the physical absence of a loved one will last until we die. We must remember, though, that we are closer to a soul who has died in a state of grace after that person's death than we have ever been in this mortal vale of tears. We must think as God thinks. We must see as He wants us to see through the eyes of the true Faith.
Our all-knowing, all-seeing, all-wise God permits some storms to be more fierce than others. Why? Once again, we will know clearly only in eternity. It is possible, nevertheless, to see in a powerful storm the signs of God's omnipotence, that we have to worry more about dying in a state of Final Impenitence than we do about the loss of physical life or property in the wake of some sort of natural catastrophe (fire, flood, earthquake, hurricane, tornado, snowstorm, mudslide, tsunami). Some people will only pray when they are faced with the prospect of imminent death or disaster. God thus sends them a reminder, a wake-up call, if you will. Those who try to be more faithful and assiduous in their prayers as Catholics despite their sins are being called by God to pray for those who do not know how to pray, to pray that those who have fallen away from the true Faith or who have never known the true Faith will be inspired by the prospect of their own deaths to seek Him out through the sole means of human salvation, the Catholic Church. God uses everything to teach us to rely upon Him and to run to His Most Blessed Mother in the midst of the difficulties of the moment, including natural disasters and tragedies.
What applies to our own lives and to the events of the natural world applies also to the situation plaguing Holy Mother Church in her human elements at present. Many priests are suffering mightily because of their steadfast refusal to offer the Novus Ordo Missae and their fealty to the authentic Tradition of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church. Some are doing so in relative silence, perhaps not realizing that they are being supported by the prayers of countless numbers of fellow traditional Catholics around the world. Other priests are suffering because they have chosen a different path and have spoken out against the errors of the day and are exercising in the full light of the day their rights under Quo Primum to make the Immemorial Mass of Tradition, which is the baptismal birthright of every Latin Rite Catholic, available to the sheep of Christ's true Sheepfold. God has not abandoned the priests who suffer in silence or those who are being calumniated for taking action in behalf of the souls who would otherwise have no access to the closest thing to perfect this side of Heaven: the Traditional Latin Mass. Oh, not. Our Lady is very much with these priests as she stands by the foot of their own crosses just as she stands by them as they re-present in an unbloody manner her Divine Son's Sacrifice of the Cross in the Masses they offer. Just as God permitted priests who remained faithful to the true Mass to be persecuted in England following King Henry VIII's break from Rome in 1534, He is permitting good priests to be persecuted anew by their own cardinals and bishops for remaining steadfast to how the Church had worshiped God for, say, about 1900 years or so. Our Lord means to bring good out of the suffering these priests are enduring. And we, the members of the laity, should support them in our prayers and understand that God has known from all eternity that the troubles facing Holy Mother Church in her human elements will one day have an end when some pope actually consecrates Russia to His Blessed Mother's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart.
No, "luck" has nothing to do with anything. Catholics are not fatalists. We are not pessimists (sad idiots). We are not optimists (happy idiots). We are simply sinners who understand that we have the obligation to pay back the debt we owe for our forgiven mortal sins and our venial sins and our general attachment to sin and that it is the path of Cross, the path of suffering (physical and emotional and spiritual), that will help to refine our own souls and thus make us better equipped to pray more readily, more attentively, more fervently as consecrated slaves of Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart to help bring about the conversion of all men and all nations to Christ the King and to Mary our Immaculate Queen.
To God alone belongs all honor and glory through the Immaculate Heart of Mary in every circumstance of our lives. May we never be slow to recognize this fact and to thus lift up our own crosses every day without complaint and without a moment's hesitation or doubt.
Our Lady, Help of Christians, pray for us.
Holy Job, pray for us.
Saint John Gualbert, pray for us.
Saints Nabor and Felix, pray for us.