Excerpt from Fr. Caulfield’s book The God Of Ordinary People
Susan is searching for meaning, and the world as she experiences it is not answering her needs. She knows enough by now to suspect that the American dream and living happily ever after have very little to do with following Christ. Her friends want her troubles to cease. Fortunately for Susan, they will not easily cease. There is a spirit of restlessness in her which is a challenge. It has nothing to do with money, position or any form of self-satisfaction. Susan’s search cannot be satisfied with anything finite. It is a hunger for absolute fulfillment, for the Infinite. What gotten “into her” is God’s Spirit, though she hardly grasps that and could never spell it out in terms of spirituality.
At first sight Susan’s needs seem modest enough, even somewhat superficial. But we come to the real need when we dig a little deeper.
“My life seems so worthless,” she says. “I feel like our old dog who cannot get going in the morning. I want to do something worthwhile, something that would make people sit up and notice. But I can’t get myself going.”
“Susan I haven’t yet met a person who did not dream of doing something significant. Most of us never get around to it. “
“Well, we think that the significant thing we have to do is outside ourselves. So we excuse ourselves by saying that we do not have the talent or time. I would see this restlessness of yours as a call to remake your inner self. And you do have the talent to do that. It is a summons from the Creator God to be a co-creator.”
“That sure sounds like a tall order.”
“Not that tall, Susan. No matter what the circumstances of your life might be, it is something you can do because God supplies the talent. You will continue to be troubled until you do that one worthwhile thing. This search of yours is an experience of God calling you to inner growth.
“I hope so…I don’t know.”
“How else would God speak to you in a personal way except through your own experience?”
“I think something is happening within. I know that I would like people to accept me like I was OK, a good person. Then I do something stupid, maybe a party somewhere, and I think, ‘God, I’m awful.”
“You’re not awful, Susan. You are OK. I’d like to hear you say, ‘I’m a good person.”‘
“I can’t….or I don’t want to ……it sticks in my throat.”
“But it is true. You have to realize that you are a good person just because you want to be good, like people are evil because that is what they want. It isn’t so much what you do; it is an inner attitude, a sort of goodness you bring to what you do.”
“I wish you could see that your sense of being good is your awareness of the Holy Spirit within you. It is God’s healing and loving presence.”
“There are things I have done….I’m confused. I mean it when I say I think I am going out of my mind.”
“Don’t complicate it. Let what you’ve done wait for a while. That can be taken care of. Forget about what other people think. It hurts, of course, when they think poorly of us. But we are in good compnay; Jesus was hurt. Hurt can help us stop focusing all our attention on ourselves. Your conflicts will end the day you decide to look at the at hurts of others and decide to do something about them. If Christ has chosen you for himself, you must share in his saving role.”
“That’s all very idealistic. My problems are more basic than that. I have real problems with God. When I talk to him, he acts like he’s dead.”
“Maybe that ‘he’ god never existed.”
“There’s no response at all. I try looking into His eyes, and I see nothing. I get mad, and he doesn’t seem to care. I get on knees and plead, and there’s only silence. How can I deal with somebody like that?”
“Maybe your image of God is childish, something you learned when you were young, an old grandpa in heaven with a white beard? Or God of the Secretary of Health and Welfare. We have to solve our own problems Susan, even when we do so with God’s help.”
“Meaning that God is our collaborator. God is on our side, within us. Why don’t you try thinking of God as Loving Wisdom. The Loving Wisdom is personal and saturates every cell of your body, every deep place of your spirit. Your problems are Its concerns. Let the Loving Wisdom look out through your eyes at the problem. It will help you solve them.”
to be continued…..