The secular world desperately needs to hear the perspective of Catholics on pressing issues, especially on the sanctity of human life. However most religious authors write in a small niche, read mainly by fellow Catholics and perhaps a few other critics we would secretly love to block. An amusing analogy came to me the other day which clarifies this dilemma.
Consider the life of an ant, not a queen ant, a worker ant.
Worker ants scurry about, hauling loads of food that are bigger than they are. They are completely oblivious to the world around them, fixated solely on their own tiny society. Often this narrow viewpoint leads to disastrous results, with whole colonies wiped out of existence when the macrocosm surrounding them crashes into their little world.
Unfortunately, it is impossible for people to communicate with an ant, or to warn an ant of danger. Any offer of help frightens him because an ant perceives anything which intrudes into his microcosm as a threat. I cannot help an ant because I cannot communicate with him.
Much of my religious life resembles the routine of an ant.
I run around busy with tasks, keeping my nose to the proverbial grindstone, oblivious to the realities of the rest of human society. Never mind the universe or even the God whom I declare as my Lord. I have my routine; I rush to attend mass, read spiritual books, squeeze in prayer and fulfill all the duties of the moment, including writing about my tiny microcosm.
When secular society, the wider Body of Christ or even the Holy Spirit Himself, tries to break through to warn, change or help me, I panic, feel threatened and run away, returning to labour in my little world where I feel safe. My earnest striving is counter productive because it isolates me from larger realities that surround me. Most importantly, my striving isolates me from the work of the Holy Spirit within me because I am in control.
Fortunately, God is better at communicating with me than I am at communicating with ants. He only needs a sliver of an opening in my heart, a quick glance in His direction, or a fleeting thought to make a connection with me. In fact, God became one with all of us, in a sense he became the equivalent of an ant, so He could speak, touch, love and become visible to”ants”on earth.
Living the Life of a Child of God
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14
“I assure you,” He said, ‘unless you are converted and become like children, , you will never get into the kingdom from heaven…’” Matthew 18:4
A relationship to the living God is child’s play and is not dependent on us acting like a worker ant.
One afternoon, I was making dinner, standing at the counter with my back to our three youngest children. Grace and Daniel were lounging around the kitchen table, with three-year-old Rebecca perched like a little elf on a high stool, happily swinging her legs.
Simply making conversation, Grace who was eight, asked Rebecca,“ Whose your favorite, mum or dad?”
Still facing the counter, I looked over my shoulder and intruded on their conversation, I commented,“Smart answer, Rebecca.”
Rebecca was not done, though,“But she’s not my real mum, Mary is.”
Grace rolled her eyes, slapped her forehead with the palm of her hand and said incredulously,“Where does she get this stuff?”
I tried to explain as simply as I could,“Well, the Holy Spirit is in her heart and she listens to His voice.”
Rebecca jumped right back into the discussion and chanted in a sing-song, lilting voice,“That’s right. God the Father in my heart. Baby Jesus in my heart. Holy Spirit in my heart. Mother Mary in my heart but I still like mum and dad the best!”
Grace rolled her eyes and plunked her head down on the table with a loud sigh,“Where does she get this stuff?”
I just laughed.
A few weeks later, as I crouched down to tie Rebecca’s shoelace, she picked up the small gold cross I wore around my neck and said,“This is the cross of Jesus and the glory of God shines all around it.”
Grace rolled her eyes again, slapped her forehead and asked,“Where does she get this stuff?
If adults received this sort of “stuff” in prayer, they would consider it a rare gift of profound revelation. Yet this child of three simply received such infused contemplative insights with ease, right from the source of all truth because she was open and relaxed in the presence of God. Children are not yet conditioned to strive and scurry around like worker ants.
If I want to to do something about world peace, abortion and the state of the Church by writing articles which will touch hearts and move secular mountains, then it is time to stop acting like a worker ant and time to start writing like a child of God who only writes what her Heavenly Father tells her to write.