Two paths, O Yes…..

Sometime ago I put up the following quote on Facebook:

“Be one of the small number who find the way to life, and enter by the narrow gate into Heaven. Take care not to follow the majority and the common herd, so many of whom are lost. Do not be deceived; there are only two roads: one that leads to life and is narrow; the other that leads to death and is wide. There is no middle way.”— St. Louis de Montfort

Shortly after I put up the post, I receive a negative comment. This negative comment led another comment that accused me of having a very narrow view of God’s love. I have no idea why my post would inspire such a comment other than what I have come to discover, any reference to any accountability for anyone’s lifestyle, makes one somehow not as “free” or “space saving” or as understanding of God’s love as one should be.

I do believe in that God is love. I believe God loves every human being and offers every human being the opportunity for grace, acceptance, and love. I also believe love (by its very nature and definition) must be a freely chosen relationship. Love can exist and not be reciprocated. Love takes a risk of rejection. Love is willing to endure even heartbreak.

Then there is the issue of the very words of Christ: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matt. 7:13-14 NRS)

Is this passage to be trusted? As a spiritual director I have found that, first, discernment is an absolute need in experiencing love and not an imitation of love. Second, authenticity, can what you believe be trusted? How trusting are you of your spiritual supports? This leads to the third crucial element, trust.

Yes, it is a universal truth that human beings make decisions. It is also true that some human choices lead to an outcome of destruction. It is also true that percent of the people who populate this planet make choices taking advantage of situation of birth/race/class and then jump on the easy way through selfish choices that bring benefits to themselves letting the rest of the world fight over what remains.

Yes, there is a wide easy road (the easy part is a deception) we can jump on with the majority of the world. It would be hard to argue against this.

What amazes me is what is said about the road that leads to life. It is the non-patronizing, none-to-subtle warning, and discerningly approving call to a hard road to life that rings of truth. This I can trust. The fits into orthodox apostolic teaching. This fits with the realities of everyday life. And, for me, this fits with my own personal experience.

While it is a sad reality which God shall endure with us, there is a future reality of separation. Call it hell, Gehenna, or whatever you wish. It does exist. Only those who chose that path will, because of what love is, be allowed their choice to be honored.

Better is what deep down, all human beings at some time in their life, have a feeling of what love is, a feeling of a desire for truth, and a draw on their hearts from God. God wishes that none should perish but have everlasting (sentient, present, beyond time) life.

Oh, yes, this I do believe.

VOCATUS ATQUE NON VOCATUS DEUS ADERIT

Whether we are aware of it or not, at every moment of our existence we are encountering God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who is trying to catch our attention, trying to draw us into a reciprocal conscious relationship.[1]

The above statement is the best practical application/definition of what human life is all about. This is the mystery of Presence. God is always present. Dr. Carl Young has this inscribe on his tombstone, “VOCATUS ATQUE NON VOCATUS DEUS ADERIT, (Invoked or not invoked, the god is present).”

These thoughts, given to meditation and then contemplation can offer us gifts of insight into God’s love for us. Gifts like an understanding of acceptance and interest that God has for us.

Example, have you ever had to sit and watch a person? Say, a fussy, hungry, well two-year old who has learned the word no. It can really test our patience. If the above statement is true, then God watches every two-year-old in the world as well as watch us. Yes, God watched our formative years with all our stumbling, failing, sometimes stupidly courageous, sometimes frightfully timid. God has watched all our sins and still, in the face of such disrespect and lack of appreciative understanding, God seeks a conscious reciprocal relationship.

I can honestly say that the happiest times of my life have been when God has awakened in me reminders of God’s love for me and in me. When God touched me, brought true illumination my way, and offered to exchange my continual self-loathing for opportunities for humble reflection.

How many times has God had to seek me out (even while pastoring a church) and guide me to remember what is at stake and why all people are important. All people are engaged in life. The physical world in which most people are competent in navigating and defending themselves and a spiritual world in which they are under attack all the time with lies and deceptions about both the right, left, middle or any other category one wishes to imagine or label.

Yes, we are all involved in a continuing cosmic drama. We face the hatred and fear of sentient beings who are hostile to human existence and operate primarily in the spiritual realm.  Jesus has overcome these beings and their leader. We have not. We only win spiritually when we learn to draw as near to God as we can so God’s strength and wisdom in discernment can be our strength and wisdom.

 I am thankful that God gives us the ability to grasp in faith the real presence of God that is around us all the time. A God who not only walks with me, but also when invited, lives in my heart. It is this promise of the presence that makes every day an opportunity to be overcomers in our spiritual struggles and to discover even more ways in which VOCATUS ATQUE NON VOCATUS DEUS ADERIT.


[1] Barry, William A.. Finding God in All Things: A Companion to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius (pp. 14-15). Ave Maria Press – A. Kindle Edition.