Friday, January 6, 2012



A couple of posts ago, musing about the ramifications of the Incarnation, I wondered whether, since so much of our life consists of waiting in anxiety, God waits, too.

Yesterday I opened the January Magnificat to find an essay by Anthony Esolen entitled "Who Is the Seeker?"

"To what, in the divine life of God," Esolen writes, "does our virtue of hope correspond? It cannot be that God hopes for what he does not have, since he possesses all things. Unless we consider that God has, in his love for us, allowed us to love him freely in turn, and when we fall from that love, when we wander from the fold, God himself submits to the longing to bring us homeward. So [Charles] Péguy [in The Portal to the Mystery of Hope] says of the lost sheep, 'He caused the very heart of God to tremble with the shudder of worry and with the shudder of hope.'



  1. Of course God hopes and waits. God hopes for our return and waits for it. People who get all bent out of shape over this type of thing are more worried about a conception than about a reality.

  2. Like the Lost Sheep piece.

    I was one of those who trembled at possibly ascribing something less than omniscience to God -- not that He isn't -- as if I have the real inside scoop on what He is thinking and who He is.

    Those who once strayed
    were sought by the master,
    He who once gave
    his life for the sheep.
    Out on the mountain
    still he is searching
    Bringing them in
    forever to keep.
    Green Pastures
    R. Skaggs (and Kentucky Thunder)

  3. Yes, I think Dr Esolen is right: poets can sometimes express truths more happily than the theologians! In fact, one observer opines that a theologian who neither reads great poetry nor listens to great music is a dangerous type indeed! (That "observer" is the current Servant of the Servants of God, Pope Benedict XVI.)

    Looking forward to reading your essay in this month's Magnificat! (For once, I didn't "jump ahead"!)

  4. I waited, waited for the Lord...
    Psalm 40, I think.

  5. I think you might like this blog:

  6. I don't have a problem with God waiting. Our mutual friend Charles Peguy wrote in "The Mystery of The Holy Innocents" 'God carved time out of eternity'. How about that now?

    A learned priest friend told me that Hindu (Sanskrit) belief is replete with references to 'The One Who Calls' (The Caller) & 'The One Who Is Called Upon'. He told me that Australian Aboriginal belief came up with much the same thing.

    The God who created Time from Eternity is indeed merciful since He must wait on His own creation to respond to the the Freedom he granted and which he actually cannot and will not revoke. I think we call it Free Will ;-)

    Stephen Sparrow

    SECOND VIRTUE By Charles Peguy

    “People wonder and say: But how is it
    That this fountain hope is eternally flowing,
    That it gushes forth eternally,
    That it springs up eternally,
    That it flows eternally,
    Eternally young, eternally pure,
    Eternally fresh, eternally flowing,
    Eternally living?
    Where does this child get so much pure water and so
    Much clear water,
    So much gushing forth, so much springing up again?
    Has she created them, successively?
    ‘No’, says God, ‘it is only I who create.’
    ‘Then where does she get all this water for this gushing fountain?
    How is it that this eternal fountain eternally gushes forth?
    That this eternal spring
    Eternally wells up?
    There must be some secret within,
    Some mystery
    So that this spring never becomes turgid in the
    Heavy and dense rains of autumn,
    So that it does not dry up in the burning heat of July.’
    ‘Good people,’ God said, ‘that is not hard.
    Her mystery is easy,
    And her secret is not difficult.
    If it were with pure water that she wanted to make pure springs,
    Springs of pure water,
    Never would she have found enough in all my creation.
    For there is not much of it.
    But it is precisely with bad water that she makes springs of pure water,
    And for that she never lacks any.
    But it is also for that that she is Hope.
    If it were with transparent days that she made transparent days,
    If it were with clear water that she made clear water,
    If it were with a pure soul that she made a pure soul,
    Of course that would be easy. Everyone could do as much,
    And there would be no secret about it.
    But it is with dirty water, stale water, insipid water,
    But it is with an impure soul that she makes a pure soul,
    And this is the most beautiful secret that there is
    In the whole garden of the world’.”

    Hope you enjoy this Heather.
    Stephen Sparrow

  8. or example of Calvary...Christ and two criminals...He did not convincing them, He was just waiting...He is always waiting...freedom is His weapon...

  9. From Pope Benedict (today) in his Epiphany homily:
    The restless heart of which we spoke earlier, echoing Saint Augustine, is the heart that is ultimately satisfied with nothing less than God, and in this way becomes a loving heart. Our heart is restless for God and remains so, even if every effort is made today, by means of most effective anaesthetizing methods, to deliver people from this unrest. But not only are we restless for God: God’s heart is restless for us. God is waiting for us. He is looking for us. He knows no rest either, until he finds us. God’s heart is restless, and that is why he set out on the path towards us – to Bethlehem, to Calvary, from Jerusalem to Galilee and on to the very ends of the earth. God is restless for us, he looks out for people willing to “catch” his unrest, his passion for us, people who carry within them the searching of their own hearts and at the same time open themselves to be touched by God’s search for us. Dear friends, this was the task of the Apostles: to receive God’s unrest for man and then to bring God himself to man.
    Full text:

  10. Mike, thanks, I like the Hay Quaker from the quick look I'm able to give him now and he has many links to what look like other good blogs, too--

    Stephen, beautiful! After urgings from a couple of readers/friends, I ordered the Peguy book this morning and look forward to savoring the whole thing...

    Driving back from Mass this morning, I thought of the STUPENDOUS mystery/implications of Christ's, "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father"...[John 14:9]

  11. Heather, dear, it is your essay in this month's Magnificat, The Epiphany Star, that has led me to discover you. You write beautifully. You've taken hold of my heart; I won't let go. Thank you.

  12. How timely! I was reading this wonderful article yesterday, as research, because a friend had asked me, after seeing a painting of Jesus looking down on the world in sadness, along the lines of "If God is love and the source of it, how could He be sad?" I realized it was not as simple of a question theologically at all and God bless Google - if search engines can be blessed - for turning up this incredible article by Thomas G. Weinandy called "Does God suffer?" at the very top of the search. It is of a theological nature but so precise that I find it beautiful and poetic in its completeness - and wonderful in that our faith never asks us to sacrifice preciseness for the sake of poetry or vice versa so long as both are rooted in the truth.

  13. I have on my bookshelf "La souffrance de Dieu" by
    Francois Varillon, S. J. He also wrote 'L'humilite de
    Dieu." I think you're in good company theologically,

  14. Well there we go, right? :) Straight from the Pope's mouth:

    " But not only are we restless for God: God’s heart is restless for us. God is waiting for us. He is looking for us. He knows no rest either, until he finds us. "

    Funny that he said that just today, perhaps you two are on the same wavelength?

    Also Stephen Sparrow thank you so much for posting that! Especially because I'm assuming you had to type it out yourself as I haven't been able to find any text of it on he internet after reading it over the summer. It was so beautiful.

  15. May I ling this to my blog? I write at

  16. Oh...and thank you for helping to represent women like me....I feel like I have found a sister.

  17. In a sense his patience is a sort of waiting. St. Peter writes, "God is patient with us, not wanting anyone to perish, but all to come to repentance." 2 Peter 3

    And od course Jesus is often said by mystics to be awaiting our visit to him in the Blessed Sacrament.

    Congratulations on sharing the essay spotlight in Magnificat BTW! I love your writing.

    God bless!

  18. Heather do you think you can stretch yourself to acquire this
    The Mystery of the Holy Innocents - of course it may be part of The Porch but it's a heavenly poem.
    Stephen Sparrow

  19. Whoa, I had no idea a sort of chance thought that had been rattling around in my fevered brain would foment so much discussion! I think we can agree that none of us can know the "mind of God"--but in a way, our JOB is to wonder about it...which we obviously are...and that alone fills me with joy.

    Stephen, to purchase two books in one week or even one month, no--BUT Peguy's Holy Innocents poem is at the LAPL, so I have got it on reserve, thank you.

    And Alisha, thank you as well for the Weinandy piece! Which I have read and which spurred so many thoughts that I'm going to put them in a separate post.

    Epiphany homily beautiful, SF, and Joyce, good reading! This is my last full day in Palm Springs--dawn is soon to Mass...

  20. Such beautiful and insightful posts. If I were to add anything it's just this thought; that the longing and love of God for us, as understood in these many quotations, makes me think of being in love.

    It seems so clear to me that being passionately loved, and loving in return, is a little experience of what God intends for us, with Him. Except that with Him its permanent! If only we knew this love as it really is!

    Robert Johnson in his book, "Owning your own Shadow", says that falling in love is probably the most powerful experience of God that many people will ever have. I think it bears much of the longing, the hope, the desiring ... that are part of God's love for us. Perhaps he really does suffer as he longs for us.

    St John of the Cross' poem (the name of which I forget)describes the love of the beloved for God in terms that are quite sexual. I think that's what sex and erotic love are - a foretaste, in minute form, of what awaits us.

    I'm veturing out a little, saying this - and I may have strayed from the topic! All the posts above have made me want to love God more. Bless you all. Jane ("Unkown/Sun reader" in a previous post).

  21. Jane, I so know that book and that quote:

    "It comes as no great surprise to discover that the most powerful and valuable projection one ever makes is falling in love. This too is a shadow projection and probably the most profound religious experience one is ever likely to have…To fall in love is to project the most noble and infinitely valuable part of one’s being onto another human being…To make this examination more difficult, we have to say that the divinity we see in others is truly there, but we don’t have the right to see it until we have taken away our own projections….Making this fine distinction in the most delicate and difficult task in life."

    The operative point there having been for me (accompanied by excruciating pain): "We don’t have the right to see it until we have taken away our own projections"...

    Johnson also observes in Owning Your Own Shadow:

    "The Catholic Mass is a masterpiece of balancing our cultural life. If one has the courage to see, the Mass is full of the darkest things: there is incest, betrayal, rejection, torture, death—and worse. All this leads to revelation but not until the dark side has been portrayed as vividly as possible. If one went to Mass in high consciousness one would tremble at the awfulness of it—and be redeemed by its balancing effect…One ought to pale with terror at the Mass."

    Not so much or only out of fear; out of the terrifying fact that we are loved...and as you say, St. John of the Cross with those poems (I'm paraphrasing) about how You wounded my neck with your caresses...

    SO on, not off, subject--thank you...

  22. The theologian side of my brain says, God is outside of time. The artist side says, Yeah and that involves a lot of waiting.

    Maybe there's no conflict though as what came to said brain was this from 2 Peter 3:9

    The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.

    P.S. At best I am a pseudo theologian having once been trained and in formal ministry, but I wouldn't make over much of it.

    P.P.S. A wise priest once said, The person [OK, he said 'man'] who worries they have committed blasphemy has, most assuredly, not done so.

  23. God waits for us to be ready.
    I don't see it as hope though as He is God and is all-knowing.

    We hope.

  24. I've nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award!

    This award is given to bloggers with less than 200 followers who deserve more recognition.

    Here are the rules:

    Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
    Link back to the blogger who awarded you.
    Give your top 5 picks for the award.
    Inform your top 5 by leaving a comment on their blog.
    Post the award on your blog

  25. Thanks for thinking of me, Kathleen, I actually have more than 200 followers...

  26. You deserve an blogging award but I am happy you do not qualify in that you have over 200 readers. Had you less I would be stupified.

  27. P.S. Heather, speaking of blogs with low readership (while not pretending anything about their inherent worth) I'm back to keeping a written blog again at the resuscitated 'luminousmiseries' the new url for drawntocatholcism which is in your sidebar (and thank you for that) is

    P.S. You don't have to publish this comment. :-) I just know it's a good way to reach you.

  28. Just came across this quote from Peter Kreeft: "If you love, you will suffer. The only way to protect yourself against suffering is to protect yourself against love — and that is the greatest suffering of all, loneliness." - Peter Kreeft

    So it seems that not all suffering is the same. There is good suffering and there is bad suffering. Maybe our problem is that we tend to think it's all bad.

  29. The little corny story at the end, THE LOST SHEEP: Any corny quote that has the word "merry" in it has all the bells and whistles. The only thing missing, though, is the last line: "And now the world can end." Just kidding. I made that up.

  30. Hi there Ro, oh merry is so corny I actually looked in my thesauras for synonyms! Then I realized it belonged there simply because it IS so corny. As for now the world can end, of course the lost sheep is all of us so we get to wait till we've ALL been "found'...


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