Practical Faith in Divine Providence
It is a faith in God and His loving care that has been made part of practical everyday life.
In Schoenstatt, it has the form of a message of trust in God’s care, of a constant dialogue with the God of life and history, and of actively seeking God’s will.
This faith is practical (as opposed to merely theoretical) because it takes the doctrine of Divine Providence and applies it to daily life. This doctrine teaches us to see all persons, events, and things in the light of faith and to try to discern and obey God’s voice in the times, in our souls, and in the order of being (see below). In this practice of faith, one seeks God’s message in every circumstance. Moreover, one seeks to live the covenant with God in an ongoing dialog of prayer and actions. This can be cultivated through a method of meditation which is centered on savoring God’s action in our lives.
This faith is active, in that we don’t merely wait for God’s plan to unfold but search his will in daily events of life. One tries to respond to him faithfully and effectively. This down-to-earth, practical faith is permeated by the desire to conform totally to God’s will.
In the “voices of the times”, God expresses his will through everything that happens, both in one’s personal life and in world events – Vox temporis, vox Dei (the voice of the times is the voice of God). God speaks to us and guides us on the paths of his kingdom through such things as the people I meet or the books I read, the particular concerns and trends of a given time, a sudden crisis or blessing, a cross he sends or an evil he permits, or the doors that he opens, or closes, to us. God can be found in the “signs of the times”, working to win us over to his love. As St. Paul teaches, “For those who love God, all things work together unto good” (Rom 8:28).
Discerning God’s voice in the times involves:
- Having a deep attitude of faith in everyday life (“Nothing is mere coincidence – everything comes from God’s Providence!”).
- Being attentive to the events around us, both on the large scale (Church and world) and on the small scale (personal and family life). One way of doing this is Schoenstatt’s method of meditation.
- Discern God’s will. “With a hand on the pulse of the times and an ear on the heart of God” (as Father Kentenich was often described), one then needs to determine which direction God to lead us.
The “voice of the soul” is God’s way of speaking to me through the inclinations and stirrings of my soul and those of people around me. God creates each soul with certain capacity and a certain mission, and its response to events and circumstances is a way God uses to reveal his plan. The voice of the soul can be discerned from such things as spontaneous reactions, aspirations, longings, ideals, fears, and intuitions. It includes the voice of conscience and the certitude of one’s vocation. It is influenced by the temperament and approaches to problem-solving. An enlightened voice of the soul will seek to be attentive to the promptings of grace and strive for the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Because the voice of the soul is the most subjective of the three voices, it is the most vulnerable to the deceptions of self-centeredness, fear, rivalry, pride, lust, or laziness. Therefore, a person must always take care to listen to this voice in conjunction with the other voices, especially the voice of the order of being. Nonetheless, this voice is irreplaceable when it comes to discerning God’s will, for it connects us most deeply with who we are. One can become more attuned to the authentic voice of the soul by fostering a deep covenant spirituality and practical faith in Divine Providence. Obedience in accordance with our state in life and the Blank Check and Inscriptio can also help is to overcome the arbitrary and self-centered side of this voice.
Like the voices of the times and of the soul, God speaks to us through the objective reality in the “voice of the order of being”, both natural and supernatural. This includes both natural and positive law, that is, the laws of nature and the laws of society, the commandments and teachings of the Church. He also speaks to us through the objective facts about who I am as a person and the characteristics and history of my family or community. Certain realities such as my temperament and talents or the past use of my free will (choice of vocation, consequences of my actions) cannot be ignored in discerning God’s will. For instance, once I have chosen my vocation, I am obliged to live it and bear my responsibilities toward those entrusted to my care.
Father Kentenich based this voice on the insight: Ordo essendi est ordo agendi, that is, the order of being is the norm for the order of action. This indicates that the ordering of the universe and of our concrete self establishes certain norms – both negative (the objective limits beyond which are not moral or consistent with my mission) and positive (the challenges and tasks which are implied by the goods which God has entrusted to me).
Other laws which help discern the voice of God include the “law of the open door”, the “law of the creative resultant”, the “law of adaptation” (God adapts himself and his actions to correspond to the way he has made his creatures) and the “law of opposition”.