Posted January 30, 2009
The ancient philosopher Epictetus provided some of the best motivational psychology of his day. He said, “First say to yourself what you would be. And then do what you have to do.” That’s simply gearing your thoughts to a proposed goal and then taking practical steps to make it a reality. Remember that establishing a goal in itself is not sufficient; you can’t learn to drive a car or play the piano by simply desiring those goals; you have to actually drive or actually play the piano until the desired goal is achieved.
Spiritual mediocrity in an otherwise high-minded person is usually the result of sincerely aspiring to holiness without implementing the means to attain it. If left to itself, such complacency will eventually anesthetize the soul; it will tend to cause the person so afflicted to forget or even ignore altogether the Lord’s pervasive and uninterrupted support and beneficence. The antidote to spiritual mediocrity and self-complacency is simply to “launch out into the deep” with surges of humble trust in the Lord. This will not only provide a God-designed protection against petty self-complacency but also further our growth by leaps and bounds.
Pope John XXIII, shortly before his death, said, “I believe that when I stand before God, he will simply ask me: How did you use the gifts of life that I gave you?” Jesus came that we “may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10). If we don’t accept and use that abundance, we will have to give an account of our neglected stewardship of his graces and blessings.
For a truly trusting soul, however, no grace or blessing falls through the cracks. A child who trusts his mother for sufficient food would never be deprived of nourishment by her: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you” (Is 49:15). Nothing motivates God to express his love for us more tenderly than when he sees us trusting him for all our needs. The reason for this is simply that by trusting him we are implicitly acknowledging our most basic creatural dependence on him as our Creator, Redeemer, Forgiver, Healer, Sustainer, Protector, and Guide.
Fr. John Hampsch, “Pathways of Trust”