Posted by: fvbcdm | May 16, 2012

Feast of Saint Isidore the Farmer (15 May 2012)

This morning, when I came to my computer, I found on it a letter from a friend in which he asks whether when we say “God’s will be done,” we are being fatalistic.  It’s a good question and it set me to thinking about it.  The answer is no, we are not being fatalistic.  “Thy will be done” is one of the petitions within the Our Father or the Lord’s Prayer, dictated to the disciples and to the entire human race by Christ our Lord when the disciples asked him, “Teach us to pray.”

Fatalism is defined in my dictionary as “the doctrine that all events are determined by necessity or fate.”  If fatalism were true, then prayers of petition would be of no use or value.  You see, there are four kinds of prayer: that of PRAISE of God; that of THANKS to God for His favors to us, that of CONTRITION to God for having offended Him by our sins, and then that of PETITION to God, asking Him for things we want.  If fatalism is true, then we are going to get what has been pre-arranged and pre-ordained and we are wasting our time and efforts by asking for this or that. So the prayer of petition is useless. However, fatalism is not true.  Our relationship with God is very personal.  It is a friendship, an ongoing dialogue, and there are many passages in Scripture which indicate that we can influence God’s actions by our prayers.  One of the most striking of them is that beautiful little episode when a pagan woman north of the Holy Land approached Jesus and asked him to cure her daughter who was very sick.  Because Jesus was a Jew and the woman speaking to him was a pagan, he answered in a way that sounds brusque and severe.  He said, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”  The woman is so eager to have him heal her daughter that she swallows her pride, accepts his calling her a dog, and uses her cleverness to turn Our Lord’s rebuff to her own advantage.  “Why, we often throw the scraps from our tables to the dogs who wait hopefully beside them.”  She was insistent; she was humble, she loved her daughter very much, she believed that Jesus could do what she wanted, and so she kept on asking.  And she got what she wanted.  One of the saints has said that prayer is “Man’s strength and God’s weakness.”

So, my dear friends, we are not being fatalists when we ask of God for what we want or need. Children are constantly asking their parents for this and that.  And good parents can distinguish between wise requests and imprudent or frivolous ones.  We ask, and then we wait to see the outcome of our asking.  But if we have wise and loving parents, we know that we will be treated with prudence and love, whether we get exactly what we want or not.  Let us be sure that our God is a kind, tender, loving Father and not some colossal machine that “does its thing” under all circumstances.  And therefore, let us pray.   Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

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