It is late afternoon here in Southern Ontario as I write this. The sun is streaming through the family room windows of our home that faces a small city park just beyond our backyard. I have spent time outdoors today enjoying the fall sun resting on my shoulders and warming me. God willing, My Dear Wife and I will leave our home here to spend the first four months of 2011 in our winter home in Southern Arizona, far from the snow and slush, and the bitter cold of Canadian winters.
We can do this because Our God is a Great God, and He has provided this for us to enjoy, but also to use for His Glory.
It is not so for Father Gordon MacRae. Father Gordon languishes in the New Hampshire State Prison, where he can, if he tries, see a few inches of the outside world. But, he cannot choose to go where he wishes. He is a prisoner. So too, Father Mark Gruber in a very real sense. They are the victims of lies perpetrated by those whose need to be right has exceeded their grasp of the importance of the Truth.
But, languishes is a word that diminishes these two fine men of God, for they are not in fact languishing, but seeking His Face in all they meet, and submitting themselves to His Divine Providence for their daily lives.
They are free in ways that most of us cannot imagine. They have met the Way, the Truth and the Life personally, and He, Our Dear Saviour has allowed them to share in His Suffering and a Death to their dreams of priestly ministry. He has made His Sufferings a gift to them, and they have taken up their crosses and are following Him, joined to His Death, and ultimately to His Victory over sin and death.
Add to this something else that happened recently, and how the rest of us respond to what is before our eyes must change.
Last weekend, Gus Lloyd, an Evangelist, and radio announcer on Catholic Radio on the satellite networks, where he hosts the morning show "Seize the Day" was given a prayer ("Drain Me of Me") by God, which he dutifully wrote down, and which he equally dutifully, but with some trepidation, shared on his web site and radio program, and which I reproduced the other day. It is a prayer that calls for the pouring out of all that is in us that is not of Him, who poured Himself out for us at Calvary.
In one part of the prayer, near its conclusion, it says:
And when I am emptied, unencumbered byGus has realised that though he lives with his family in South Florida and travels about the country preaching as the opportunity arrives, he is not in fact completely free. For reasons of my own personal journey, I know this too.
The stuff and nonsense of the world,
No longer weighed down by the heaviness
And burdens put upon me by myself
Or the dark forces of the evil one
Fill me with your Spirit,
For your Spirit has no chains,
Your Spirit recognizes no boundaries,
Your Spirit is lightness and light,
Your Spirit allows me to soar
As on eagle’s wings.
The Apostle Paul was never more free than when he was imprisoned, and neither have Father's MacRae and Gruber ever been more free than they are at this moment, while imprisoned, ostracized, criticized and ridiculed by those in authority.
True freedom can only come with abandonment to divine providence, to trusting in God so completely that nothing else matters but seeking to do His will every moment of every day.
Father Gordon and Father Mark have and are being drained by God of all that separates them from Him. When all the clutter of daily life is removed there is only Him.
That their suffering not be in vain, nor that of Our Dear Lord, we too must take up the cross that is before us, and add to our life in Him by subtraction.
Lord God, Creator of the Universe, remove from us all the parts that keep us from being totally submitted to You and Your Plan for our lives.