“Whether we know it or not, the actions of our daily life are fixing our character for good or for evil.” (Venerable Fulton Sheen).
I was recently reading an account of the brilliant British scientist, Michael Faraday, who was born at the end of the eighteenth century.
In the story that I was reading, a student of the scientist accidentally dropped a very corrosive acid (nitric acid) into a silver cup and the acid quickly caused the cup to disintegrate into tiny grains of silver-sand that floated in the acid solution. Faraday, who was a brilliant chemist, came to the rescue and quickly added salt to the silver cup and acid solution, and the salt caused all the grains of silver to sink to the bottom of the solution so that they could be collected and recovered. Then, Faraday filtered the silver-sand grains out of the solution and had them refashioned into a silver cup that was even more beautiful than the original silver cup...
I have been reflecting on this refashioning over the last several weeks since I first read that story. You see, this world is so temporary. Despite all the temptations to consider this earthly life as something lasting and worth preserving for all time because it is often so easy to see the actions of this life and the judgements of the world as final, this life is really not where we are meant to stay!
Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face described a story in her autobiographical “Story of a Soul” to demonstrate the futility of relying on the judgements of this world – when the DIVINE judgement of God is the only judgement that matters!
In her story, Saint Thérèse describes how during recreation there was an opportunity to accompany another sister, Sister Saint Agnes, as a third party. While this was ordinarily a boring job, on that day new trees had been delivered for the crib and Saint Thérèse – and her sister-nuns – were quite interested in going along to examine the new additions. Saint Thérèse guessed that one of the other nuns –Sister Marie of Saint Joseph – also wished to see the trees, and so when the sisters were asked who would accompany Sister Saint Agnes, Sister Thérèse responded yes, “…but I did this slowly so that Sister Marie of Saint Joseph would be ready ahead of me and take the place, which is what happened.”
But the world – through Sister Saint Agnes – judged Saint Thérèse. Saint Thérèse was told, “‘Well, it’s Sister M. of St. J. who will have this pearl for her crown. You were going too slowly.’ I answered simply with a smile and began my work again, saying to myself: Oh, my God, how different are Your judgments from those of men! It’s in this way we are so often mistaken in this life, taking for an imperfection in our sisters what is meritorious in Your sight!”
And I have been reflecting on that too. For when the FINAL judgement is made – the ONLY judgement that counts – when God Himself considers all my thoughts and words and deeds, it will not matter what others of this world thought of me at all, despite all the effort I put into trying to please people of this world…
Venerable Fulton Sheen said, “Whether we know it or not, the actions of our daily life are fixing our character for good or for evil. The things you do, the thoughts you think, the words you say are turning you either into a saint or a devil to be placed at either the right or the left side of the Divine Judge.”
And there is such truth in these words…
For how easy it is for me to judge and be judged by the world – everyone is an expert after all!
But it is only through the judgement of God – the DIVINE judge – that all my merits and faults shall be collected and weighed, like grains of sand – or silver from acid – and then, and only then, shall the DIVINE creator be able to refashion my soul into what it truly deserves to be…
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.