Welcome back to our group. We pray that your New Year is overflowing with God’s grace. The unfathomable, all-consuming love of God is what moves the needle on our compass. Love Sr. Anne and Denise.
Time: 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm mountain (8:30 pm to 10:00 pm eastern).
REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
Homing Toads And The Beatific Instinct
Nothing leaves us more empty of words than deep grief. The heart is swept into a world beyond words, where currents of pain, unlike any other, emanate from the rupture of something deep within. Love is strong as death. One cannot know what that means until death intrudes, threatens, or claims someone you love as you love yourself. The spirit can become so disoriented in shock and grief that it tries to follow that loved one, almost quitting this world while still living in it.
Perhaps the most difficult and painful deaths for us are untimely deaths, the deaths of those who die too young, who don’t live out the fullness of their days. A story is told of St. Teresa of Avila in which a couple brought her their deathly-ill baby and asked her to pray for healing. She took the baby in her arms, veiled herself, and the baby while she prayed then told the parents that she asked God to heal the baby if he would grow up to love and serve Him well. But she also prayed that if he would grow up only to lose his soul in the end, to take him now.
The saints tell us that God works mysteriously in His Divine Providence to take us at the time that is best for our salvation without violating our free will. He takes many things into account, including prayers and Masses that will be offered for the person. He works at the same time, graces of salvation and sanctification for other family members and friends through these deaths.
These kinds of deaths can bear great fruit in the matter of salvation, which is not always apparent, especially to those caught up in the intensity of grieving and shock. Sr Briege McKenna, speaker, and author of “Miracles Do Happen” said that when God withholds the miracle we pray for, it is always because there is a bigger plan in play.
One sure effect of untimely deaths is that they wake up the internal GPS of the survivors in unusual ways. And this is a good thing. An excellent thing, because we are born with a homing instinct that moves us forward, even in death. Sometimes especially in death. It redirects us and makes us get serious about things that truly matter.
St. Catherine of Genoa speaks about it in this way: “God created the soul pure, simple and clean of all stain of sin, with a certain beatific instinct towards Himself.” Original sin and personal sin, draw the soul away from God, obscuring this sense. But the beatific instinct is always at work in us, becoming stronger in the measure we turn from sin and turn our gaze back to God again. For those who have gone into eternity and find themselves in Purgatory, the intense and loving gaze of God has such uniting power, and draws the soul so forcefully, that if “the soul could find a worse Purgatory in which to rid itself sooner of all the hindrance in its way, it would swiftly fling itself therein, driven by the conforming love between itself and God.”
This unfathomable, all-consuming love of God is what moves the needle on our compass. It is what the beatific instinct is set to. And our loved ones, in going ahead of us, are like the magnetic pull that realigns us again with the North Star.
Caryll Houselander, a prolific author and mystic, saw, from this side of eternity, the beatific instinct in another light: “In the heart of every fallen man there dwells a homing toad. Toads are not very popular animals…on the whole, men think of them as repulsively ugly, squat, square, coarse, and altogether, in spite of the fact that they have beautiful eyes, unattractive.
“The toad (the most common garden variety kind) has an undefeatable drive in him to go back to his home; he can be taken as far away from it as anyone is cruel enough to take him, and he always gets back.”
She goes on to say: “Man, however evil he becomes, however twisted and grotesque-however far away guilt takes him from God, from his home…” always struggles to get back. “He really wants to be in the light of God, in his proper home.”
This is something the souls in eternity understand now with such clarity that the many things they can do for us from there, (and they are far greater than anything they could have done for us from here), are geared to recalibrating our internal GPS, sharpening our homing instinct, or, our beatific instinct and getting us safely home to God.
Don’t ever think your loved ones who have gone on ahead are not beside themselves to get you safely home to where they are in God. Though you don’t see them, and you miss them beyond words, they are more present to you than you realize, and are solicitous for everything that will route you safely to the eternal happiness they experience, even in purgatory.
Don’t stop praying for your loved ones who may need your prayers and sacrifices to finish the purification of love in Purgatory that will unite them forever with God. And don’t stop asking them to intercede for you in all your needs. They are grateful beyond measure for all you offer up to speed their full entry into heaven.
If your own GPS is turned off, turn it back on! Get your signal back. Your own loved ones would speak the words of St. John of the Cross to you:
“Oh souls created for these grandeurs and called to them! What are you doing? How are you spending your time?”
Questions for Reflection
- Have you experienced the pull of eternity, the call to something beyond us, in your life?
- How have you gone through grief? Did it awaken anything new in you? How did you deal with the suffering of it?
- Why do you think God asks us to move in faith in these areas of the death of our loved ones?
- If your loved ones who have gone on ahead, could speak directly to you, what do you think they might say?
- It is good to think about eternity frequently and to try to understand as best we can, the real experience of those who go on ahead of us. How do you currently think of eternity? How can you deepen your understanding of eternity and what it will be like?