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Those of us who were born after the nineteenth century probably take for granted that everything is in a state of evolution. The assurance of a smooth progression from cause to effect gives us grounds to hope that nothing that happens is unpredictable or beyond our comprehension. 

Of course, this is deluded thinking. The world is full of surprises, and it is only by responding creatively to the unexpected that we allow the full power of our latent potential to emerge. Mere routine can’t do this. 

In the spiritual sphere the same law applies. God leaps into the space between the anticipated and the real and begins to make a noise that is difficult to ignore. St. Paul’s plans for the day collapsed when Christ shouted in his ear. After that his life took a different course. He became an apostle of prodigious energy, proclaiming the Good News far and wide, and for its sake bearing persecution in his own flesh. 

Our lives may be less dramatic, but we would be wise to consider whether God is not also speaking to us in those moments when reality is different from what we had expected. We are being tasked to cast our eyes in a different direction, open to the possibility that we are being asked to change course. 

And we can’t expect to comprehend all that is involved in this challenge. Some of its meaning may emerge in time. Much of it remains in mystery. We will never understand it by thinking about it; paradoxically it is only by giving our assent that it begins to make sense. Saying “Yes” gives us entrance to a world beyond our reasoning. 

© Liturgical Press.

Fr. Michael Casey

Michael Casey, a Cistercian monk of Tarrawarra Abbey in Australia, is a well-known retreat master and lecturer, and the author of many books on spirituality, including Grace: On the Journey to God, Balaam’s Donkey, and Coenobium: Reflections on Monastic Community.

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