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Notoriety And The Love Of God: Spiritual Exercise 02/13/23

Please join us for our upcoming session with Sr. Anne Marie Walsh, SOLT. It takes place Monday 02/13/23 from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm mountain time. Please click the link below for automatic entry. God Bless you.

Click on Zoom:

Opening Prayer: The Memorare

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.


Notoriety and the Love of God

It is hard to fathom that today’s world does not want God. It mirrors the fundamental struggle of our individual souls, the battle between being self-centered and being centered in God and His Presence in our lives and the life of the world.

Scott Barry Hoffman reported in the Scientific American that one study of a group of 10–12-year-olds found that being famous was their most popular future goal, above financial success, achievement, and community-centered goals. No mention was even made of spiritual goals. But we don’t have to look far to see what happens when we seek ourselves and our own glory over and above God. Hollywood and the world of sports abound with examples of lives that have been shipwrecked in the shoals of fame and notoriety.

In any case, the glory that we seek, whether in significant ways or smaller ones, can easily rob God of the honor and glory that are rightfully His. We did not give ourselves our gifts, talents, appearance, or physical abilities. We are responsible for developing them in order to put them to the service God intended. But we’re not the origin of the good that exists in us. God is.

A beautiful way to think of our gifts and keep them rooted in the proper perspective is found in the life of Eric Liddle. Eric Liddle was born in China to a Scottish missionary family and subsequently attended schools in London and Edinburgh. He entered the 1924 Paris Olympics as a runner, but being a devout Christian, he refused to run on Sundays. This affected the events he was eligible for and effectively eliminated him from the 100-meter race in which he was favored after having already set a British record that stood for the next 23 years. He trained for and ran instead in the 400-meter race, which he won in a time ( 47.6 seconds) that remained unbeaten for the next 12 years. Right before the race, a team masseur handed him a message which read: “In the old book, it says: ‘He that honors me I will honor.’ Wishing you the best of success always.” It was a reference to 1 Samuel 2:30, which Liddell recognized immediately.

The film, Chariots of Fire, puts these words on the lips of Eric Liddle: 

“I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure.” 

As for his purpose, he said: “God made me for China.” He did not find his gift for running incompatible with the mission God gave him, but he did put the gift in its rightful place. He returned to China as a missionary and ended his days in a Japanese internment camp near the end of WWII, expressing in his last words his complete “surrender” to the Lord. 

Without question, one of the greatest obstacles we have to holiness and becoming like Jesus is our own ego. Our spirit has to become like Our Lady’s who magnifies the Lord and not herself. Or like John the Baptist, who understood how necessary it was that he decrease and the Lord increase.

John Newton, Anglican minister and composer of the hymn Amazing Grace illustrated the struggle and the remedy by looking to the angels.  

“If two angels were to receive at the same moment a commission from God, one to go down and rule earth’s grandest empire, the other to go and sweep the streets of its meanest village, it would be a matter of entire indifference to each which service fell to his lot, the post of ruler or the post of scavenger; for the joy of the angels lies only in obedience to God’s will, and with equal joy, they would lift a Lazarus in his rags to Abraham’s bosom, or be a chariot of fire to carry an Elijah home.”

Finally, it is worth remembering that human fame is fleeting. St. John Chrysostom reminds us: 

“If you knew how quickly people in your life would forget about you after your death, you would not seek in your life to please anyone but God.”

Question for silent reflection:

  1. For those who are driven to find notoriety or fame, the most sure-fire way is to become a saint. Ironically, it is the very people who shun fame, who end up being remembered for the great works of love which they perform.  But it is an unintended consequence of the deeper quest for holiness.  What would help the world recognize true greatness so that their aspirations could be purified?
  1. There is a real human need behind the desire for fame, which if met, tames the desperation of those who are driven to be famous.  What do you think the real need is?
  1. How do the dangers of fame apply in the spiritual life?  Are there comparable situations in the spiritual life in which “notoriety” becomes a problem or a danger to faith?  
  1. What is the proper response of a Christian to flattery, to praise, to misdirected attention.  Remember Paul and Barnabas and the predicament they found themselves in when preaching and preforming miracles, they were thought to be Greek gods and worshipped as such.

Our next session takes place on Monday 03/13/23. Lent is God’s invitation to experience His full joy. May your season bear the fruits of God’s will for you.

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