Waiting for a Miracle?
Written by: guestblogger
One of the real pleasures of (still) being a student is that I get to read a lot of things that I would probably never choose to read if a professor wasn’t assigning it. Last week, one of those types of passages came across my desk: a selection from Martin Luther’s “Lectures on Genesis, Chapters 1-5.” Early on in the reading, I came across one of Luther’s references to St. Augustine, and our lack of gratitude in daily life. It is worth sharing the quote at length here:
Miracles become commonplace through their continuous recurrence. Thus we do not marvel at the wonderful light of the sun, because it is a daily phenomenon. We do not marvel at the countless other gifts of creation, for we have become deaf toward what Pythagoras aptly terms this wonderful and most lovely music coming from the harmony of the motions that are in the celestial spheres. But because men (sic) continually hear this music, they become deaf to it, just as the people who live at the cataracts of the Nile are not affected by the noise and roar of the water which they hear continually, although it is unbearable to others who are not accustomed to it…“Everything that is rare is appreciated, but what is an everyday occurrence comes to be regarded as commonplace.” If the stars did not rise during every single night or in all places, how great a gathering of people there would be for this spectacle! Now not one of us even opens a window because of it.
St. Ignatius would be on the exact same page as Luther. I suspect that I am only one of millions of people whose daily prayer rests largely on St. Ignatius’s “Examination of consciousness.” Ignatius explains, “The first point is to give thanks to God our Lord for the benefits I have received from him.” Ignatius believes that it is incredibly important for us to be totally swept away with gratitude for all the gifts that we have been blessed with here on earth. The sort of attentiveness that Ignatius calls us to is precisely what Augustine and Luther suggest we so often fail to practice. In fact, Ignatius wrote in a letter to his companion, Fr. Simon Rodrigues, “Ingratitude is the most abominable of sins…For it is a forgetting of the graces, blessings, and benefits received. As such, it is the cause, beginning and origin of all sins and misfortunes.”
I wish that I could remember to be more attentive throughout the day. Perhaps that wish is expressed most often when I return to that “first point” of the Examen and realize that I have forgotten (or, more likely, never realized) many of the ways in which God had blessed me that day.
If the sin of ingratitude naturally leads to other sins, then it is only sensible that the grace of gratitude leads to other graces. Perhaps the grace that we most need in our world in the 21st century is the grace of peace. I do not say this as a simple platitude, but rather as a course of action for us all to take in our lives. It is abundantly clear that ingratitude for our blessings leads to all kinds of untold violence in the world. I maintain that gratitude is the first step that leads toward peace. My friend Fr. Joe Currie, S.J. introduces the sign of peace at Mass by praying that Christ may bring about “peace in our hearts and homes, our cities and villages, our nation, and our world.” I think that he is right on the mark! Gratitude for our family and friends will lead to more peaceful relationships with them. This, in turn, shows us that it is possible to create peaceful relations on a local level in our parishes, soup kitchens, and shelters. It reminds us to be grateful for the gift of “strangers” in our lives.
One of the greatest gifts in my life has been the example of many people who are much more grateful than I. They have taught me how to “find God in all things.” They have shown me that such discoveries are actually miraculous. These are the types of miracles that can happen a million times a day, if only we allow ourselves to be in awe of God’s graces. More than that, however, we can be miracles. By actively responding to God’s call in our lives to work for peace and justice on the domestic, local, national, and even international levels, we can witness to the incredible, liberating, and miraculous fact that Jesus Christ has defeated death forever, and calls us be grateful and joyful with our lives. Let us be miracles for others.
Photo: “waiting for a miracle” by Piclsa from Flickr (Used under Creative Commons license)
Daniel Cosacchi is a doctoral student in the theology department at Loyola University, Chicago. He studies Christian ethics, with special interest in just war theory and pacifism. He holds a BA from Fordham College, and a Masters of Theological Studies (MTS) from the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.