I will return to the subject of the third millennium rosary, which was invented in Poland and is in the shape of a credit card. Please note that the first models of this original have small pictures of Our Lady and John Paul II. And, if you wish, you can order other images. “It’s a matter of taste and devotion,” says the ingenious inventor. And it is also a question of price. Because this invention – says the ingenious creator – costs money: about three euros. “Faith is a beautiful thing, but you also have to do it for life.
Maciey Salomon – the name smells Jewish – is perhaps a descendant of those Temple peddlers whom Jesus drove out with a whip. One need only go to Fatima, to Lourdes, to Rome, to Jerusalem to realise how widespread the race of these wise inventors and traders of religious articles has become.
More numerous, however, are the imitators of Simon Magus. The reader does not know why he enters the scene here, but I will explain.
Simon Magus wanted to buy the power to communicate the Holy Spirit, no less. St. Peter was in no mood: “Go to hell with you and your money”. The pretence of receiving divine grace in exchange for earthly goods is called “simony”. You give me so much and gain so many indulgences. You vote me to such ecclesiastical office and I pay sixpence.
I put a candle to Our Lady, that she may make me pass my examination. If God gives me health, I offer Him a gold chain. I will go to Fatima on foot, if I win this case or the lottery.
I don’t laugh at the simple people who have a hundred times more faith than me, who ask for graces and make promises, because that’s how children act towards their parents. Trust in God or in the Mother of Jesus leads us to trust fully and to promise goods or actions that symbolise the promise of a redoubled love, of an authentic life. It is not about the attitude: “Trust in Our Lady and don’t run”; it is about doing all we can and then recognising our limitations and the impotence of human means on the one hand, and the infinite goodness and power of God on the other.
What we must not do is to turn God into a bank where we deposit our accumulated capital, nor the Mass or the Rosary into a credit card. Whenever we need favours – money, success, health, luck – we take out the card and withdraw what we need. We render favours to God and He incurs obligations to us: He has to pay and with high interest. We would be looking for a God who serves us, rather than a God whom we serve.
Entering into dialogue and communion with God – this costs less than an urban phone call – has as its first fruit the certainty that his mysterious, unattainable will may not coincide with ours, but it is the one that suits us best. “God writes straight through crooked lines”: an illness, a failure, a natural calamity, an accident. “Some of God’s blessings enter our house by breaking glass,” observed the great journalist Louis Veuillot.
Because he loves us infinitely, God wants us to be free and adult. He does not build our bridges; he gives us the hands to build them. He does not solve our problems; He gives us light and strength to solve them.
That is why we do not pray for Him to be on our side; we pray for us to be on His side. The maximum density of prayer is not reached when God listens to what we ask of Him, but when we are able to listen to what He wants from us. In this communion of wills, He renews our life and we drink, as from the Source, from His presence in joy and suffering, from His goodness, from His openness, from His forgiveness, from His way of dealing with human beings.
To love and to feel loved: this is our wealth. Our credit.
Abílio Pina Ribeiro, cmf