Fr. Roy Cimagala .
IT is often said that when one is very orderly and focused on things, he most likely will fail to consider other things that may be more important. He becomes a rigid, one-track-minded person.
Of course, there is some truth to that observation, especially when the persons concerned precisely are too orderly and too focused that they become compulsively controlling of things and therefore end up blind to other considerations that may objectively be more important than what they are handling at the moment.
Sad to say, we have many cases like this nowadays. This may be due to the increasing complexity and complications of our life and the growing clutter not only of material things but also and especially of moral issues and concerns. As a consequence, many people react in that way as their means to cope with the situation.
But if order and focus are lived properly, they actually favor flexibility and creativity, and they can lead one to be more broad-minded, more objective and more able to tackle what is truly important to us. And the proper way to develop and live order and focus is to inspire them with love for God and others.
Without that love and with us simply relying on our own idea of what is good and advantageous to us, our way of developing and living order and focus would be greatly limited. And that’s because our own ideas of these virtues would only be self-serving and would simply depend on our own powers. We would be easy prey to the mysterious twists and turns of our life.
A self-serving motive and a self-empowerment can only do so much. They cannot go the distance. Their objectivity is hampered by a heavily subjective approach to the challenges in life. They practically cannot overcome and go beyond what their current conditionings and circumstances give them. They are like being fenced in.
But when the sense of order and focus is motivated by love of God and others, and empowered by God’s grace, then it can be developed and lived calmly and with greater sensitivity to the objective reality of things in their proper hierarchy as willed by God who knows everything and sets the ultimate standard of things.
We should try our best to live always in the presence of God that would also bring about the presence of everybody else. That’s because if our presence of God and love for him is real, then we would also have a vivid sense of the presence of the others and an abiding love for them.
It would be good and helpful that in developing this proper sense of order and focus, we bring things first into our prayer so we can see them more clearly under the light of God’s will, and not just under our own interests and purposes. In that way, we can easily establish the priorities proper to each of the things that come our way.
There will be a good sense of purpose and direction, and any unexpected thing or surprise that can come our way can be handled better without getting confused or lost.
Besides, with this good sense of order and focus and a good sense of purpose and direction, we can easily discover and discern other possibilities that are relevant to our plans.
A well-thought-out daily strategy attracts more relevant ideas. The promptings of the Holy Spirit are more easily discerned. We become more discriminating of things, and we would know what to get and give attention to and what to ignore and discard.
In other words, we would become more prudent, our power to judge things and events properly gets sharpened, and our ability to be flexible, adaptive to the demands of the moment as well as creative is facilitated.
The mother of fair love. Now that we are in the month of love, it might be a good idea to revisit one of the titles of Mary, our Lady. She is also referred to as the Mother of Fair Love, and thus, a good teacher and a sure guide in our business of loving.
I suppose that Marian title has basis on some passages in the Book of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) where they say: “I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope. In me is all grace of the way and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue. Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits.” (24,24-26)
These words, while written in the Old Testament, are applied to Mary, the Mother of Christ, since they find echo or sound similar to what Christ said of himself: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (Jn 14,6)
I imagine that the similarity highlights the total identification of Mary with her son, who is the son of God and our redeemer, giving us the reassuring idea that it is possible for a human being to be totally identified with Christ. That possibility and ideal should not be regarded by us as something unreachable.
In other words, the similarity is meant to assure us that, no matter how impossible it may sound, we too can be totally identified with Christ who actually is the pattern of our humanity and the savior of our damaged humanity. We have to learn to feel at home with that truth of our faith.
The similarity is also meant to tell us that it is in love as lived by both Christ and Mary when we can be in the truth, the way and the authentic life meant for us. In other words, it is this love that summarizes and integrates the qualities of truth, way and life that are meant for us.
It stands to reason then that in order to love the way Christ and Mary loved, one great help that we can avail of is to have this devotion to our Lady under this title of Mother of Fair Love. She will teach us how to love the way she loved and continues to love God and us.
In fact, Our Lady, in that passage of the Book of Sirach, precisely told us to “come over to me… and be filled with my fruits.” We are given a very accessible way of developing the love that is proper to us.
And in these times of so many forms of fake love, I believe this is what is most needed. We have to go to Mary, Our Mother of Fair Love, so that we would know how to love in all aspects, levels, situations, circumstances, etc. of our life.
She will be the one to help us animate all our activities and concern with the genuine love of God and neighbor. We know very well that we can get easily confused and lost with regard to our duty of loving while we go about our daily affairs. Our loving, without her, can easily get entangled in the emotional, sentimental and worldly values alone that have no other alternative but to lead us to trouble sooner or later.
We can pray thus, “Our Mother of Fair Love, receive our hearts and teach us the genuine love of God and neighbor. Your love is the key to open our hearts that have been hurt. You lovingly nourish the soil of our emotional and irrational life for the spiritual and religious values to take root. Your spiritual force with its uniting and assimilating effect of love can transform our hearts unlike anything else. Amen.”