One of the cultural challenges we face in both living and proclaiming the faith is that the true faith doesn’t often fit our frantic pace and instant expectations. Consider that may today, including we who believe, demand the “Quick Fix.” What ever the situation, be it sickness, a needed repair of something we own, the delivery of something we have purchased, a resolution of family troubles, or even deeper issues such as inner peace, we want a quick fix.
But many things do not admit of a quick fix, especially the deeper things of the human soul. And the faith we proclaim does not propose something so simple. In this sense, the faith is less “marketable” to our quick fix culture. We do not (cannot) say “Simply Come to Mass for six, sequential Sundays and your problems will be over.” Rather, we say, “Give your life to Christ.”
The solution of God and of the true faith insists on an often slow but steady movement toward God wherein he draws us in stages, ever deeper to Him, to holiness, to perfection. Little by little, our fears fade, sins diminish, we become more loving, patient, compassionate, chaste, serene and so forth. The process usually takes decades, no quick fix here.
And many medicines need to be consistently applied: daily prayer, daily Scripture and spiritual reading, weekly Mass and Communion, frequent confession, and communal life in the Church to include helpful friendships, faith-filled relationships and works of Charity.
There is an old saying that “Grace builds on nature.” That is to say, that God’s grace respects the way we are made by him. And just as it pertains to our physical nature to change slowly, almost imperceptibly, (but surely), so our spiritual nature usually follows the same pattern. And, while there may be growth spurts, it is more often the subtle and sure growth that makes the deepest difference.
I can surely say this has been my experience. I have been serious about my spiritual life for the last 30 of my 52 years: daily Mass, daily Scripture, daily holy hour, weekly confession, fellowship with my people, holy friendships and spiritual direction. And wow, what a change! But it has taken 30 years to get here, and most of my growth was imperceptible, day to day. I’m not what I want to be, but I’m not what I used to be, a wonderful change has come over me.
Not the quick fix, not the fast rush, just a inching along like a poor inch worm (as an old Spiritual says). But praise God I am where I am today.
Lifelong plans may not “sell” but they are the way God insists on working.
On Fridays I have often tried to keep the post a little shorter and have tried to use a commercial to make my point. So how about this one:
- In the commercial, below the is a man, Jerry, who is in a “State of Regret.” In a certain sense (as we shall see), Jerry represents all who stray from the Church and God’s life long plan of faith, looking for a fast rush, and quick fix elsewhere, apart from the faith and the Church.
- Sure enough, Jerry’s regret is that he has dropped his “State Farm” Insurance and went with the “other company,” let’s call that company “Quick Fix Auto Insurance.” I allowing State Farm to represent the Church, I intend no endorsement, but do recall that “farming” is no quick-fix business. It involves a lot of patient waiting and persistent working. Such is the work of the Lord and his Church, no quick fix, but more like farming.
- Jerry complains to his former agent “Jessica” (but lets call her “Mother Church”). His complaint is: It only took me 15 minutes to sign with that other company but it’s taking a lot longer to hear back. OK, so now he’s learned that there really is NO SUCH THING as a “quick fix” when it comes to many things. And so must we learn this same truth. The world, the flesh and the devil, often make such promises and sow seeds of impatience in us when God does not act instantly, when the Church bids us to be patient and persistent. But Now Jerry’s impatience has brought him further troubles, as we shall see.
- Jerry explains he’s had a “fender bender” The truth is Jerry has bent far more than a fender. He is in real trouble. We too often like to minimize our state when we have made bad decisions.
- Jessica (Mother Church) is sympathetic but wonders what she can do, for Jerry has ended his relationship with her. Without a relationship, how can she help him? Here too, Mother Church often wants to help us, but must have a relationship with us to help. God too, seeks communion with us, in order to help us. But communion, a relationship, with the Lord and his Bride the Church are necessary for help to be extended.
- Indeed Jessica (Mother Church) knows Jerry well, and seems, like a mother, to know implicitly and exactly what he has done. She knows he’s in real trouble and has “put his car up a pole” (again). There’s just something about Mother Church, she knows her children and what we do, she knows, and understands.
- Hearing Jessica’s (Mother Church’s) knowing but compassionate words Jerry breaks down and says “I miss you Jessica!” The ad then says, “Let it out Jerry! Then come back to State Farm.” Yes, indeed. And so too for us. Soulful and tearful repentance and a restoration of our relationship with the Lord and his Church, are the way out.
- Quick Fix Insurance Company can’t cut the deal. Come back to the Lord and his Church. The solution may not be “quick” but it will be sure if we stay the course.