The Path of Life

The Path of Life

Friday, November 14, 2014

For the time being

"Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom
and knowledge of God! How inscrutable
are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways."

Romans 11:33

NOTE: Following is a thought-provoking meditation by my patron saint, Francis de Sales, on the wonder of God's providence which we can only marvel at until the end of time. It is an excerpt from a commentary we heard read at Vigils this morning in the Archabbey Church. Here, Francis de Sales shows that we must trust that the Divine Clockmaker brings order, meaning, and purpose from all things, no matter how insignificant, confusing, or unlikely some things may seem at the moment. As an aside, one of my brother monks later commented that in this digital age, it may not be too far into the future when someone reading this will not understand the analogy--clocks with lots of tiny, moving parts? Since when?!  -- Br. Francis

Entering into a clockmaker’s shop, we shall sometimes find a clock no larger than an orange, but has within it a 100 or 200 pieces. Some pieces serve to show the time, others to strike the hour or give the morning alarm. We shall see within it little wheels, some turning to the right, others to the left, one by the top, another by the bottom. We shall witness the pendulum, which with measured beats, keeps rising and falling on either side.

We wonder how the clockmaker could join together such a number of pieces, with just the right correlation and precision. We do not know what purpose each little piece on its own serves, or why it is made so, unless the master tells us. We know only in general that all serve either to point out or to strike the hour.

In this manner, we see the universe—but especially human natures—to be a sort of clock, composed with so great a variety of actions and movements that we cannot but be astonished at it. And we know in general that these so diversely ordered pieces serve all, either to point out, as on a dial-plate, God’s most holy justice, or as by a bell of praise, to sound the triumphant mercy of his goodness. But to know the particular use of every piece, how it is ordered to the general end, or why it is so, we cannot conceive, unless the sovereign Workman instructs us.

For the time being, he conceals his art from us, so that we may admire it with reverence, until in heaven he delight us with the sweetness of his wisdom. There, in the abundance of his love, he will show us the reasons, means, and motives of all that has transpired in this world toward our eternal salvation.

--St. Francis de Sales
Treatise on the Love of God
Book IV, Ch. 8

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