Objective Truth Series – Reflections article # 12
In our last Reflection we considered how God works marvelously on our souls in order to instruct us on how to avoid pride. Likewise, we saw how God, by teaching us more about ourselves, is in reality, revealing to us more of what He Himself is doing in our souls. God does so very much for us.
In St. Basil’s sermon The First Commandment he expounds beautifully about God’s blessings upon us:
1. “God had made man to His own image and likeness, and honored him with a knowledge of Himself, and endowed him above all living creatures of the earth with the gift of reason, and prepared for his delight the inconceivable joys of paradise”;
2. “[He] made him the first of earthly creatures”;
3. “Even after he [man] had been deceived by the devil and had fallen into sin and through sin into death and into things that deserved death, that even then He [viz., God] did not abandon him, but first gave him a law to help him, placed him under the protection of His angels, sent prophets to rebuke his wickedness and teach him justice”;
4. “The goodness of the Lord has not abandoned us. Nor have we deprived ourselves of His love for us through our own folly: treating lightly the One Who has done us so much honor. We have even been recalled from death and restored again to life through Jesus Christ Our Lord Himself. And even the way in which this great goodness was shown to us is wondrous beyond measure.”
St. Basil continues, “He has taken our infirmities upon Him; He has borne sufferings, He was wounded for us, and by His wounds we were healed [Is ch. 53, 4]. He has redeemed us from the curse (of the law), being made a curse for us (Gal. ch. 3, 13); endured for us a most shameful death, that He might bring us back to a glorious life. It was not enough to recall the dead to life, He gave us also the dignity of His own divinity; preparing for all mankind an everlasting rest that surpasses in the greatness of its joy every thought of man. What shall I render to the Lord for all the things He has rendered to me (Ps. 115, 12) He is so good that He does not even look for the things He has given us, but that we love Him in return.”
St. Basil explains how we owe God gratitude in return for these blessings.
“Chief among those whom nature teaches us to love are those who do good to us. And this is a love not peculiar to man only; but is common to almost all creatures, leading them to love whoever had done good to them. If then we have a natural love for those who are good to us, and will suffer anything for them to repay their goodness to us, what words can rightly praise the gifts that God has given us? They are so many as to be beyond number; so great, so wondrous that for one alone (creation) we should give all thanks to the Giver.”
In addition to what God has done for mankind, when we reflect, we can count so many blessings that He has showered upon us individually. God has protected us. He has enlightened us with the Holy Catholic Faith. He has shown us likewise how we can stand up for the truth. If we reflect and ponder His Mercies deeply, we find a flood of gratitude streaming from our hearts and perhaps tears running down our cheeks. How Good God is!
We cannot help but feel our littleness and unworthiness. Surely, as St. Basil shows, we should keep the wonderful things God has done for us in our mind in order to foster a continual and ever-increasing gratitude in our souls. Thus, humility can be born in our souls and spring forth a tender and beautiful intimate friendship with God. Oh dear reader, if we could only give gratitude to God more and more, then a cascade of charity would surely flow from our hearts! Further, Our Lord would be pleased to see His seeds of humility growing in our souls and that these seedlings are preparing us for Himself. As often as we look back with 20/20 vision and count our blessings with awe and wonder, we would find that we truly would never want to forget God’s mercies and blessings that He has lavished upon us and we might desire to say the following:
Marvelous mercies, of my Lord,
These do pierce me, quite like a sword,
Bringing rivers, of grateful tears,
To see what Thou dost, through the years.
To ponder all, Thy creation,
Events, in every nation,
Countless blessings, thou hast bestowed,
None of which, has ever been owed.
Consider only, one person’s life,
One can see it, with blessings rife,
Some are large, while others are small,
We’ve all been rescued, after all.
Infinite Goodness, I now see,
So much that Thou hast, done for me,
And filled with, confusion am I,
The blessings I count, are piled high!
My unworthiness, I now feel so keen,
With counting blessings, I have seen,
O’erwhelming, ‘tis Thy Tender care,
My gratitude, I should not spare!
To count them oft, ‘tis a good thing,
To keep one e’er remembering,
To say prayers, to render one’s thanks
To let tears, overrun their banks
To give God thanks, could ne’r too much,
‘Cause God’s mercy, our hearts do touch,
One’s heart is swelling, with need to tell,
Our Dear Lord, that, we love Him well.
Thus humility, can be born,
From gratitude’s bountiful horn,
Then may God be thanked, in all ways,
So humble the heart, ever stays.