See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Friday, August 27, 2010

Got oil?


Foolish virgins...
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So the wise virgins wouldn't share their oil and the foolish ones had to go buy more and when they got back the bridegroom already arrived and the wise virgins had already gone into the wedding banquet and the doors were locked.  There stood the foolish ones, suddenly realizing they were persona non grata.
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"Well I'll be damned!"  Sister Sue exclaimed.
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"You got that right!"  Sister Lisa responded.

Seriously, these girls were all in the same virgin's club, perhaps even on the same committees, in the same parish, or part of the same prayer group, some affiliated with the same religious order - maybe a couple were associates - but that doesn't matter.  They were friends - one or two possibly even relatives.  And yet half of them left their sisters in the dark when the celebration began.  That's just cold.  These ladies also sacrificed their whole life as virgins, wearing horribly unfashionable clothes, and participating in church stuff all of the time, helping out in the parish, making sandwiches for loaves and fishes, working in the homeless shelter, even going to daily Mass...  I don't get it.  What did the foolish virgins neglect?

"Love cannot be lived minimally."  - Mother Teresa to Cardinal Camstri

Trying to defend his case at the time, Fr. Camstri told Mother Teresa that he thought she was going to ask him how much charity he did. She answered him, "And do you think if I didn’t pray I would be able to love the poor? It’s Jesus that puts love in my heart when I pray."
She helped the poor, but it was "always Jesus’ love," the saintly sister told him.
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Then, Mother told him something that he would never forget: she told him to read Scripture.
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Through Jesus’ teachings, she said, we are reminded that "without God we’re too poor to help the poor.” This, she explained, "is why so much assistance falls into the void. It doesn’t change anything, it doesn’t contribute anything because it doesn’t bring love and it isn’t born of prayer." - Blessed Teresa of Calcutta saved Car. Castri's priesthood

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Art:  Wise and Foolish Virgins - 1919-20, by Charles Haslewood Shannon
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Note:  If I have been scarce online it is because I've had to stock up on my own oil supply.  Let's pray for one another while we still can.
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9 comments:

  1. Anonymous2:20 PM

    Terry,

    I don't understand this parable or your explanation of it at the top of this blog entry.

    Why didn't the wise one share? What is the 'oil'?

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  2. I don't get it either. But that is what the Gospel says - the wise virgins told the foolish ones that if they shared their oil, there wouldn't be enough for both. ("we are too poor to help the poor" on our own.)

    Our first duty in life is to love God - to preserve this love in our hearts - "keep salt in your heart" - "for what good is it if it goes flat?" Therefore it's a matter of personal responsibility to make sure we are not just doing and saying all the right stuff, in the right group, what have you, but we need to first draw close to Christ in prayer. Prayer is our passport to union with Christ in God. Prayer is love - it is the "one thing necessary" in every life.
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    Anyway, that is why I included the story from Mother Teresa I found on Fr. Z's blog, since it fit so well with what I was trying to say.

    Actually, my main intent in posting this was really to try and get across how left out the foolish virgins must have felt - almost betrayed - kind of like the sheep and the goats parable - "But Lord, Lord!" It's a scary story. Despite the fact they made many sacrifices in life and even lived alongside the wise virgins, participating in all the rituals and works of religion, their lamps had no reserve, their hearts were empty of the one thing necessary.

    I apologize for making an otherwise simple parable more complicated.

    Pray for me that I may not be locked out of the wedding banquet - that is my fear.

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  3. i think that's all of our fear, terry. you are not alone.

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  4. Inspite of knowing/loving this parable for 40 years, I have just learned the precious truth from your post here !

    pro invicem oremus

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  5. Prayers from here, always and everywhere, Terry! Promise you!
    My insight into this: the gals who didn't have enough oil were "fritterin' away" their time with who-knows-what...it's like the "pious" who are more concerned with all kinds of everything except "preparing for the bridegroom" (and I count myself in this category, unfortunately!);
    I think the Lord is telling us to quit being such "busybodies" and keep our focus upon Him.
    Then, our oil stock will be plentiful.
    And the other virgins couldn't share because we can't give to others what they themselves cannot and will not be ready to receive.
    We can pray; do penance; but it's up to each one of us to be available to the Lord, to His People; and not allow ourselves to be "scatterbrained nitwits", all concerned about what doesn't matter in the long run.
    That's my take on it; I'm probably way off!

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  6. Thanks Father - I like your take on it!

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  7. Anonymous1:23 PM

    Terry--thank you.

    That is my fear too. My only fear really, at least in a way.

    I don't know about you, but sometimes I'm amazed how complicatd it all can seem, and yet, when you read and pay attention to certain saints, the Lord seems to love our simplicity--only one thing.

    Maybe it's just my own pride or quickness to judge, but the closer I get to the Church 'on the inside', if you will, the more I feel lost and far from God. Man, that doesn't seem to make any sense, but it's how I feel.

    Sometimes, I just feel like the best thing I can do is live a simply and anonymous life and try to love God--away from the 'inside' of the Church, if you will.

    But I don't know if that's what God wants.

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  8. Anonymous: By the very fact you "live a simply and anonymous life and try to love God" means you live in the very "heart of the Church"...that's the basis of the contemplative life; countless nuns and monks do this within monasteries; countless more live this "within the world"...you're right on!

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  9. Anonymous8:42 AM

    Father,

    Thank you!

    I sure hope you're right. I just want to be a saint, "get to heaven before they close the door," as Bob Dylan puts it.

    I find so much solace in simplicity and saints like the Little Flower, St. Faustina, etc.

    I guess what I mean by being 'inside' the Church is more of the Church business, Church representatives, officials and all of the baggage that can come along with it all. I don't say it's bad, just that it can be distracting, it seems to me.

    May I ask for a bit of advice? How does one know if one is supposed to live as we strive to live in a monastery or in the world?

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