January 8, 2018

The outsize physical world in which we live is a paradise overflowing with myriads of spectacular fauna and flora stunning in their variety, purpose and utility to us. About 200,000 years ago, from the beginning of our human species, Homo Sapiens, and nowadays with mind-boggling instruments and vehicles, we are still exploring the wonders of our Planet Earth surrounded by the star-studded universe that boasts over 100 billion galaxies, the smaller of which contain 300 billion stars.

Just as real as this physical wonderland in which we live, there is a parallel world out there that cannot be observed or measured with any physical instruments or defined and determined by any human thought. In that parallel world, although we don’t see them dancing around us in all their splendor, there are spiritual gems aplenty, challenging the stars, waiting for us to snatch them and take possession of them. For all the precious spiritual gems we embrace, our souls’ beauty outshines the universe. That parallel world is accessible only through faith in God, for it is more within us than without; Luke 17:21, “The Kingdom of God is within you.”

The shame of it is that I catch myself overlooking it with painful frequency. That is, I catch myself counting the occasions and opportunities where I could have seized the blessed gems inherent in numerous opportunities. These are powerful moments of grace that I have squandered, priceless episodes of boundless grace that I have ignored. We must not fear to compare ourselves to Saint Thérèse of Lisieux who went after little things and eternalized in them spiritual gems and precious metals. Indeed, we are all invited to pursue “The Little Way” of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, the same little way used by rugged Saint Paul who states in 2 Corinthians 12:10, “I delight in my weaknesses, for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

How much of a priority for you is the acquisition, use and display of the shining metals, gems and other baubles of this valley of tears? People admire, treasure and store fleeting gems that shine for a season here on earth, but have no everlasting cachet. Undaunted by fear of the unknown and perhaps life-threatening perils of such a trip, people such as the conquistadores of yore forsook their homes to cross the ocean in a feverish quest for cities of gold. The driving motivation of a hunger and thirst for treasures nullified any hardships or obstacles in their way.

“Diamonds are forever” and “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” punctuate the many slogans tossed about as a sales pitch that mirrors reality. If diamonds, other gems or platinum, gold and silver are the way to a person’s heart, that is a statement and indictment of the person’s values and priorities in life. Along the same lines, some people are called gold diggers in their relationships with others. Other folks deceive themselves by saying that they do not covet any precious metals or precious stones. Yet, they indeed covet the equivalent of those valuable things by coveting many things that they can buy, such as fabulous homes, cars and properties, not to mention the best of everything extravagant in foods, drinks, vacations and luxuries. Do they ever bother to list and deal with their priorities in life?

In addition to all the pedestrian things as well as the momentous things of our everyday life, potential spiritual gems to be counted are the extraterrestrial signs, wonders and fireworks upon which we meditate. Thus, in giving thanks to God for the celestial show God gave us in the 100-plus billion galaxies containing 300 billion and more stars each, our rapt contemplation and humble prayer of thanksgiving to God transforms those mind-blowing numbers into spiritual gems in our souls. This is proclaimed beautifully in Psalm 8:4, “When I see the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you set in place, what are we that you are mindful of us? Yet, you have made us a little less than the angels.”

This is another application of the “good intention” as stated at the beginning of each day and perhaps repeated: “Oh Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart, in union with the sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in reparation for my sins, for the intentions of all my relatives and friends, and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father.”

From the beautiful, powerful words of this offering, it is clear that the Good Intention is one of the main vehicles available to us for transforming both the pedestrian and the spectacular in our life into spiritual gems that enhance the beauty of our soul and enable us to do everything for the greater glory of God.

“God is love, and all who abide in love abide in God and God in them.”   (1 John 4:16)