Sanctify Each Fall and Fall Into Heaven

prodigal, father

We must not be discouraged by our faults, for children fall frequently –   St. Therese of Lisieux

Although I am a very poor example of a devotee, The Little Flower is one of my favorite saints. I love how this wonderful saint sanctifies simplicity by offering it as the little way to Christ.   Keeping things simple for Therese is a matter of love and humility. She challenges us to focus on loving service of God and others. Therese does not waste our time telling us how to avoid falls. Rather, she challenges us to fall for the right reasons.

The Many Faces of Our Falls

Our falls can take many forms.  They may be physical, spiritual, financial, vocational, familial, social, and an endless stream of other types.  As imperfect creatures in an imperfect world, we cannot avoid falling. Obsessing over avoiding falls or brooding over them once they occur is a waste of time.  Nobody ever recovered from bankruptcy by cursing it for months.  Offer your falls to God and you will fall toward heaven!

Life is a Sea of Forks

You are where you are through a series of choices.  Imagine a game where a ball is dropped above a network of pegs. The ball drops, hitting pegs and going left or right down a haphazard path, eventually landing on a target or station with some prize. Our lives are somewhat like that game, except that our fall does not have to be haphazard, and are very often anything but beyond our control.

Each peg is a fork in our path from which we will move in one direction or another. If we delude ourselves into relying on this world’s empty promises, our fall will be haphazard despite how controlled and planned we may pretend that it is.  Ultimately, we will end up where we allowed ourselves to fall.  Our choices at each fork in the path will be influenced by our priorities and goals along the way. Our life theme may be materialism, self-interest, pleasure, manipulation of others, power, or fame.

Conversely, we may be guided by love, service, compassion, charity, or service.  The motif of our life will ultimately influence the choices we make at each fork in the road and lead us to a corresponding end. Earthly falls for earthly reasons may appear controlled. However, if they are merely based on this world or self, they will be a tragic, random, and arbitrary descent into ultimate, eternal oblivion.

In the End, All Must Fall

It is common sense most things of this world are superficial, temporary, material,  Given that falls in life are inevitable, and that the direction of our falls will be determined by the themes of our lives, it follows that a life guided by the superficial, temporary, selfish, material, hedonistic, or abusive will invariably follow that same pattern.

We have the opportunity to fall grace-filled through the sanctifying example of Christ.  Our Lord sanctified suffering by experiencing it as the vehicle for His ultimate sacrifice.   

Just as suffering is sanctified when offered for and united with Our Lord’s suffering, so also our falls can be sanctified when offered for and united with Our Lord’s falls.  Now Christ was perfect and therefore did not experience our falls of imperfection. However, he allowed himself to physically fall on the way to Calvary as an example to us.  He washed his followers’ feet (Jn 13:1-16) and exposed himself to the human pangs of hunger, thirst, loneliness (Lk 4:1-13), and anguish as examples to us of both his understanding of our human condition and of what God expects from us as imperfect as we may be.

Each Fall is a Fork and a Choice

When we fall, and we will, we face a fork in the road.  We can curse the fall, spew bitterness or self-pity, or start pointing fingers.  We might call it bad luck, a bad break, or simply the next injustice thrown on our so-called innocent shoulders by jealous forces. In fact, we might climb out of this bitterness and resentment plotting revenge.  At such times, we would do well to recall how Christ chose the path of prayer over cursing, forgiveness over bitterness or revenge, and love over hate. If we prefer to play by this world’s rules, we will see Christ’s reaction as foolish, feeble, or even pathetic. We will defy him to get off that cross and hit somebody.  However, if we play by Christ’s rules, we will follow Christ’s example and fall -for God and in love with God all over again.  The choice is up to each of us. When you face a fall, stick a fork in it and choose the path toward Christ.

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