Tag Archives: fall

Undoing the Fall of Man: Obedience after Disobedience

“If God had commanded her (Mary) to carry out with her own hands that crucifixion which an inscrutable Providence had placed in the hands of the wicked, she would have obeyed with all the promptness and resoluteness expected of one perfectly submissive to the laws of the Creator.” 
(From The Cross of Jesus, Fr. Louis Chardon, OP)

This is a shocking statement. It disturbs us on a very deep level. How can anyone dare say that Mary, the gentle and loving mother, would venture to carry out the crucifixion if the executioners had refused? It seems so disordered!

To fully understand the magnitude of that statement, we need to first understand the dichotomy between order and disorder. On a human level, we flee from disorder and suffering, and we long for order. And yet all creation is continually moving towards disorder and chaos, as described in the second law of thermodynamics (creation, in and of itself, moves towards a state of entropy). Think of a tree that falls in the forest. Can it, of its own accord, pick itself up? No. In fact, once it has fallen, it will begin to die and decompose; it cannot return to an orderly way of being. This desire of ours for order and nature’s tendency towards disorder is a result of the Fall.

Before that fateful moment, all creation (including man) was ordered rightly; God was the center of all things, and all things were perfectly obedient to Him. After the Fall, we see a drastic and jarring change: man struggles against the natural tendency towards chaos on a daily basis. It starts right in the morning for most of us. Admit it: you hate the sound of your alarm clock. Your alarm clock is a signal to you of order, and your fallen nature desires to do its own thing.   That’s why the snooze button was invented: to give you a second (and third…and fourth…) chance at starting your day in an orderly manner. Disorder can lead to sin, while order leads to virtue. Sadly, due to Adam and Eve’s disobedience, we find it easier to sin (live in disorder), rather than to do good (live in order).

We need help in order to regain control. In our struggle, there is a beacon of hope: Mary. As one free from original sin, she did not have concupiscence (fallen man’s tendency towards sin). Mary’s vision was unclouded by sin. For this reason, when God asked her to be the Mother of Jesus, she consented. Oftentimes we fail to see beyond this moment in Mary’s life. We neglect to recognize that her whole life was lived out as a “yes” to God. In my own life, this truth is slowly coming into focus. I have recently become a mother, and I am realizing how profoundly demanding motherhood is. Yes, there are the natural demands of my little one (diapers, feeding, etc), but this is just the surface. On a very profound level, I am realizing what it means to live in a constant state of “yes”. Finding out we were pregnant was our first “yes” (acceptance of this wonderful news), but each moment after that has been a re-echoing of that attitude. Even in difficult moments, I need to give myself completely for the sake of this little being that God has entrusted to me. In one sense, I am just doing what I need to do. But, taken to a spiritual level, I am living in the “yes” of Mary, and bringing order into disorder.

Mary’s acceptance of God’s will was perfect in all things, and therefore was rightly ordered. This attitude reaches far beyond the joyful events of life, and even embraces the difficulties present before us. In Mary, I can find strength to do that which is unpleasant (e.g. feeding my infant at 3am) for love of God. If, like her, I can accept all things as part of God’s amazing plan for my life, then my life and actions become a prayer. It is this very disposition which restores order into even the most tumultuous situations. In a sense, when I align my will to God’s will, I am participating in a reversal of the effects of the Fall; the Fall brought disobedience and disorder, while living a life faithful to the Lord brings obedience and order.

God’s ways are often mysterious to us. Therefore, accepting them necessarily involves an openness to trust. If God is all-good, there can be no evil in Him. Mary knew this, and lived accordingly. In light of this realization, the opening quote comes to light: Mary would have done anything necessary, in order that God’s will would be fulfilled. No mother wants to see her child suffer. Neither did she. And yet, she was willing, like Abraham, to offer the Son she held so dear. She was yearning, in fact, to sacrifice her own desire for a greater good. As she stood at the foot of His holy cross, she said her “yes” once again to God’s plan. In her we find strength in sorrow. Through her we come to a fuller realization of our ultimate goal: to love and serve God in this life, so as to be happy with Him for all eternity in Heaven. This is the ultimate reversal of the Fall, and it was opened to us through the cross. Mary was able to accept it, even though she had no foresight of how the execution of her Son would ultimately affect the salvation of countless souls. She simply stood (yes, she stood at the foot of the cross) and lovingly accepted God’s mysterious plan. May we, through her intercession, daily strive to give our “yes” with loving obedience, and complete trust in God’s beautiful plan in our lives.

 

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Jack of spades? No, it’s the King of Hearts!

I like playing cards.  It is true that I don’t know many games, but nonetheless, I enjoy sitting with friends and shuffling a deck.  However, just as the cards are mixed while shuffling, so Imagetoo, in life, many things get tossed out of order. 

The king of hearts, which is just one of 52 exciting cards in a standard deck, never really struck me as a unique card.  It was just one of the set…until now.  The king of hearts is, in fact, not just a card in a deck. 

The third Friday after Pentecost (19 days after Pentecost) is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  It is His heart, pierced by the soldier’s lance, which is truly the King of Hearts.  In spite of this, in our daily lives, He so often gets “lost” in the shuffle.  I know I tend, at times, to focus on worldly allurements, such as beauty (queen of diamonds), work (jack-of-all-spades), and pleasure (joker).  But somewhere in that mixed lot of cards there is a King and His Queen Mother—the true King and Queen of Hearts. 

It seems that, in cards, the king and queen of hearts have equal ground with the king and queen of any other suit; you can usually trump any lower card with a king or queen.   This well-crafted symbol of deception is one that we are easily drawn into.  If we give priority to Imageall the kings and queens in our life simultaneously, we give to “God and Cesar” a mixed bag of everything.  Didn’t Christ say something about rendering to Cesar what is Cesar’s…and so on?  (Mark 12:17, if you need a refresher on that one!)  When we put the true King and Queen of Hearts on the same level as the diamonds (pretty things), spades (work, work , work) and clubs (status) in our lives, we bring God down to the mire of our sinful human condition.  Now, the Lord is not afraid or hesitant to step down to that level—in fact, he did so about 2,000 years ago, and continues to do so in the Holy Eucharist and the sacrament of reconciliation.  But the fact of the matter is that we, as creatures, need to strive to perfect our humanity, so that we can come to be more like God, our ultimate goal. 

What about the appearance of the cards in a deck?  Ever notice that one side of each card has the same patter or image as the others?  This masking of cards is essential to the game being played.  In life, however, it is a result of the Fall of Adam and Eve (thanks, guys).  Before the Fall, creation was at the disposal of man.  After the Fall, man was Imagebetrayed by a corrupted creature from that same creation. The Fall is the moment at which our First Parents’ eyes were opened, and the reality of good and evil became apparent.  It was also at this moment that the conscience of man was clouded.  This clouding of conscience creates a mask, which shrouds the true reality from our sight—good may appear as evil and vice versa.  Just think of the culture we live in.  Countless examples come to mind of the strategic switch-ups between good and evil.  This is the back side of the card.  We need to turn the card over in order to see which one we are holding.  Then we can fully decide what to do with it.  Keep it, play it, or discard it. 

The cards in a deck are shuffled and dealt out time and again, just like the numerous decisions and discernments throughout life.  There is a lower probability of obtaining a heart than any one of the other three suits.  This again points to the fact that the King and Queen of Hearts are only found on the “narrow” path.  Again, I think Jesus mentioned something about broad paths and narrow paths (Mt. 7: 14).  The narrow path is the way of the Christian.  The cards are dealt and you must decide which to discard, and which to keep.  What will you hold in your hand at the end of the day—eternity in heaven, or the fleeting allurements of this world?

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