I am going to return to the theme of the third millennium rosary, invented in Poland and in the format of a credit card. The models may vary according to taste and devotion. And also according to the price. Because this invention costs money: about three euros. “Faith is a very beautiful thing, but we have to do it for life,” says the brilliant inventor, Maciey Salomon. His name smells Jewish and he may be a descendant of those businessmen whom Jesus drove out with a whip. It is enough to go to Fatima, to Lourdes, to Jerusalem, to Rome, to realise how this breed of “Temple salesmen” spread.
They remind me 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 not about the adjustments: “Go with your money to hell”. The pretence of receiving divine graces in exchange for earthly things is called “simony”. You give me so many euros and gain so many indulgences. You vote me for such and such an ecclesiastical office and I pay you a sum of money.
Certain promises do not go very far from that: I put a candle to Our Lady so that she will make me pass my exams. If God gives me health, I offer Him a golden cord. I will go to Fatima on foot if I win this process or if I win the lottery. Or, as a child prayed: “God, I kept my promise, where is the bicycle?
I don’t laugh at the simple people who have a faith a thousand times more ardent than mine. Trust in God or in the Mother of Jesus is what leads many people to promise things or offer sacrifices; behind these offerings or sacrifices is the promise of a redoubled love, of an authentic life. It is not a matter of “Trust in Our Lady and don’t run”, but of doing everything in our power and recognising, at the same time, our limitation and powerlessness as well as God’s infinite love and power.
What we must not do is to turn God into a bank where we deposit our amassed capital or to transform the Mass or the Rosary into a credit card. “Whenever you need favours – money, success, health, luck – take the card and collect what you need. You do favours for God and He incurs obligations towards you: He has to pay and with high interest”. We would be serving God instead of serving God.
Entering into dialogue and communion with God costs less than an urban phone call and implies the certainty that his mysterious, unattainable will may not coincide with ours, but it is the one that suits us. An illness, a failure, a natural calamity, an accident, can be the crooked lines where God writes straight. “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 the light and the strength to solve them. God is a good worker, but he likes to be helped.
So we don’t 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 answers what we ask of Him, but when we are able to listen to what He tells us. In this communion of wills, He renews our life and we drink, as if from the source, His presence at every moment, His goodness, His openness, His forgiveness, His way of acting towards us.
To love and to feel loved: this is our wealth. Our credit.
Abílio Pina Ribeiro, cmf
(PHOTO: Ryan Born)