There is something incredible, almost ineffable, about interacting with another human being. What is actually happening here?! It is two spiritual souls — and thus immortal souls — coming into contact. Two souls, created directly by the hand of God and destined for an eternal life of infinite beatitude with Him, coming together to speak, to communicate, to connect. That is beautiful! Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange says, “It is never by chance that two immortal souls meet…be it that one only has the divine life and can, by its prayers, its attitude, its example, bring back the other to the right road which leads to eternity. It was not by chance that Joseph was sold by his brethren to the Ismaelite merchants. God had determined from all eternity that these merchants would pass at such and such an hour, not earlier, not later. It was not by chance that Jesus met Magdalen or Zacheus, or that the centurion found himself on Calvary.” (Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., Life Everlasting)
Two immortal souls meet, and almost always they will end and part ways different than when they met. They cannot help but be changed, at least in some small way, by their meeting. Such is the power of the human soul, the power of the human voice, and of the eyes and mouth and heart. So much good, so much mutual help and strength, can come from these interactions. But not always! No, unfortunately they can also be the cause of great harm. The question, then, is what determines these results? Well, to a great extent the outcome depends upon our approach, our mindset. Do we want to be an instrument in God’s hands for helping this soul in front of us? Do we want to elevate others by our attitude, our conversation, our behavior? It is good to examine our intentions every once in a while by asking the following questions: “Why am I going into this interaction? Why am I conversing with this person? What am I looking for from this? Am I seeking to give or to get? Do I desire what is truly best for this person? If so, am I ready to fully embrace the consequences of that desire? Am I prepared right now to forget myself and my likes or dislikes, so as to help bring this soul closer to God in whatever way He has decided?” Difficult questions! We don’t like asking ourselves such things, because we don’t usually like to face the answers. Yes, how frequently we seek just ourself! How often we see others only through the lens of ‘self’, caring only about what we can get out of them for ourself! We have not the spirit of Jesus Christ and of Our Lady and the saints. We are so hesitant to truly love others, because to love another means to give oneself, and to give oneself means to forget oneself. We would much rather do anything other than forget ourself.
There is much to be learned from that prayer of St. Francis (which was sent out last week). “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace: where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.” Notice that he seeks not his own will. He is not asking anything for himself, other than that he may be an instrument in God’s hands, spreading to others a spark of that divine peace, love, pardon, faith, hope, light, and joy. What a life! And then he continues, “O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, not to be understood but to understand, not to be loved but to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” Yes, ‘not to be understood, but to understand; not to be loved, but to love.’ What a different view of things! What a different understanding of how we should approach every soul we meet throughout the day! Ask God that, starting now, He might grant us the grace of this new vision and understanding. That He might open our eyes to the wonderful calling each of us has so many times a day — the calling to be an instrument in His divine hands for the salvation of the souls that we meet — realizing that such meetings can never be by chance, not when we are dealing with immortal souls redeemed by the Precious Blood of His Son.