BY SHY KNEES
29TH August, 2015.
Today is Saturday! It’s also Environmental day, so no movement until 10.am. Time check is 8.53am. I’m also home alone – everybody is in the village right now, preparing for my sister’s trad marriage. I on the other hand, am preparing for my exams which start on Monday.
So, I went for confession and evening mass yesterday. It was very important for me to go, because I didn’t like the idea of carrying mortal sin with me all through my exams (which is one of the periods in my life when I need God the most).
For the first time in my life since I started going for confession, the penance given to me wasn’t to say the Rosary or a few decades, etc. My penance was to spend 5 minutes with Jesus, in order to discuss a way forward with my spiritual life. i.e. how to maintain that level of spiritual high or consciousness which I always feel immediately after confessions, but seem to lose after a few weeks. I had complained about this to the Priest- that I always seem to lose my zest and zeal towards spiritual things a few weeks after confession. He also advised me to say prayers which I love, as often as possible, throughout each day.
Evening mass was very very enlightening, I must say. I even wish I recorded the homily on my phone, so that I can write it all, word for word! We celebrated the feast of St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church. He had earlier lived a wayward life, and his mother St. Monica had been relentless in praying for his conversion. When he became converted, he was so devout and staunch, that he became more spiritually sound and deep in Christ, than those who were Christians before him.
The readings of the mass focused on telling us to be alert and awake, praying at all times for the strength to stand with confidence before God, because we do not know the hour when the Son of Man is coming.
The Priest really explained the parable of the 10 maidens (bridesmaids), and I finally understood it! This parable talked about how 10 bridesmaids went to meet the bridegroom, each with their lamps. 5 foolish ones took only their lamps with no oil. 5 sensible ones took flasks of oil as well as their lamps. The bridegroom was late, and they all fell asleep waiting for him. Then by midnight, there was a cry that the bridegroom had arrived, and they should go and meet him. At this point, the 10 maids woke up, and noticing that their lamps were going out, begged for some oil. The 5 sensible bridesmaids refused, saying that the oil might not be enough for them and for the ones begging for it, and advised them to go and buy theirs. Unfortunately for them, by the time they went and came back, the bridegroom had arrived and taken those that were ready into the wedding hall, and shut the door. The 5 foolish maids begged saying “Lord, Lord, open the door for us!”, but he replied “I tell you solemnly, I do not know you.”
The Priest explained the parable thus:
-the bridegroom is Jesus Christ.
-we are all on a journey to heaven. We are on a spiritual journey.
-God made each of us good. We all have a good nature. This could manifest itself in our principle or the philosophy of life (e.g. I would not lie because I hate lying; I don’t like how I feel when I cheat on my partner, etc), or in our upbringing from our parents, etc.
-the 5 foolish maids only brought their lamps for the spiritual journey. The lamps represent our good nature.
-the 5 wise maids, not only brought the lamps, but brought flasks of oil. The flask of oil is the Grace of God. We all need God’s grace to survive on this spiritual journey. Our own good nature, principles, upbringing, etc cannot carry us through.
The priest said that it was an ordinary thing for the 5 foolish maids to carry the lamps, but it was an extra-ordinary thing to carry flasks of oil. It’s an ordinary thing to know the difference between good and bad; but it is an extraordinary thing to be able to always choose to do good or to follow good over what is bad. God’s grace helps us to choose good over evil.
He also explained that the bridegroom had arrived, and they were all soon going to enter the wedding hall, hence, would not be needing the light from the lamps for too long. Why then, did the 5 wise maidens refuse to share their oil?? They refused to share their oil because this “oil” in reality, is God’s grace given personally to each person. They replied “there may not be enough for ourselves and for you…” This goes to show that God’s grace is a personal thing. My own God-given grace is sufficient for me, and works only for me. My grace may not work for another individual. It is thus best, for each person to cultivate his or her own grace.
The Reverend Fr. also explained that this grace from God builds on our own human nature – the natural good nature that is already innate in us from the time we were created by God. Just like it would have been foolish for the maidens to come with oil, but without lamps; it is also wrong to think that we can have God’s grace in the absence of a good nature (which God has already put in every individual). God’s grace only builds upon our goodness, our good nature. Again, since we are on a spiritual journey to heaven, it would be foolish of us to rely only on our lamps. We need to carry a flask of oil, we need to do the extraordinary, we need God’s grace to make it through. For there is only so far that our lamps can carry us – As we saw from the parable, their lamps were sufficient only till an extent. Their lamps took them till the destination of where the groom would be, but it couldn’t last them, especially at the point they needed it the most. We therefore need the grace of God to last us till the end, for it is not an easy road!
The priest therefore encouraged all of us to draw close to God, so that He can fill us with His grace – so that our journey will be a successful one, and we shall get to enter into the wedding hall (Heaven) and enjoy the mealy meals of heaven!
P.S This article was written by “Shy Knees”, a free- spirit, non- conformist, partly- learned girl, who also struggles to become a Vegetarian. I’m also a girl who’s “teaching my mother how to give birth”. Now, this is a phrase that has many meanings…