Saints inspire us for what they do with what they are provided by God. At 29, Jane Francis Fremiot was widowed with 6 children. She experienced an initial depression (!), then through the spiritual direction of St. Francis De Sales, she began to work with women who were attracted to religious life, but not the austere kind of that age. She founded the Congregation of the Visitation and when she died at the age of 69 she had established about 85 monasteries.
I use the word “intentionality” quite a bit to describe the “engaged” Christian life. No matter what is happening in one’s life at the moment, there is an inner balance maintained by staying focused on “who I am” and “why I am” and, “where I am going.”
Frivolous stuff can distract me like comparisons with so and so, or how I can or want my significant other or a religious brother or sister or even a friend to change accord to what “I want now.”
We have in the Word today the essential core stuff to pay attention to the voice of God, with heart, soul, and will.
There is a dual reality going on in our lives and it is a matter of being open to and relying upon the grace to know how to respond. We can look to Jesus to understand this dual reality. Jesus has just experienced a transcendent revelation of God’s love within him, in order to prepare for the fulfillment of the two Old Testament icons of God’s Plan for Salvation moving forward. Jesus avoids the distracting fanfare, and fuss, and fear of the disciples and moves on to face into the reality of the world for which Christ will sacrifice everything for its’s salvation.
He would meet the embodiment of the result of a world ruling itself in the person of an epileptic man, possessed by a demon!
This is where the duality of the “sacred” inside of him, and the “scared” surrounding him would meet head-on.
Through intentionality he was able to balance the “ecstasy of the Transfiguration” with the extreme, sad dilemma of the world, in the person of this possessed man. And Jesus responds relying on the power of His Father within him.
Intentionality is faith in action, intentionality is the risk to love with total dependence on the love that sustains the world (though totally unrecognized and disregarded). This is the love that flows from the Cross in the face of all suffering.
So the disciples could not deal with the duality. “Why could we not cast out that demon?” Jesus calls it “little faith.” I surmise he was describing something less than the mustard seed size of faith. There was not the focus on the interior life of God coupled with the will to act in love and risk.
Let us pray for that interior intentionality, today and the willingness to act upon it in risky, loving actions, “for nothing will be impossible for you.”
Fr. Alex Steinmiller, C.P., is a member of the Passionist Community in Detroit, Michigan.