Tolle lege et Scribentes!
That is what I heard in my mind at 1:30 am, after two hours of no sleep. It is unusual for me not to fall asleep. Very unusual. I will chalk it up to the stress of the times — the stress that my fancy watch has been telling me about, to which I seem oblivious. Until I can’t sleep…then I know something is awry. I should add that my mind was indeed filled with worry…about everything…but especially that someone in my family would get sick, particularly my sons who live on their own.
I had a friend ask me yesterday what the Latin means. Translated it means, “Take up and read and write!” There is a bit of a deeper meaning though. St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church from the 4th century, once heard (literally, from a child’s voice), the phrase “Tolle lege!” He then opened the book of Romans and read this: “Not in riots and drunken parties, not in eroticism and indecencies, not in strife and rivalry, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in its lusts” (Rom. 13:13-14). A good summary of the story is here. This was the point of conversion for Augustine. He was a man of incredible intellect, and up to this point had reasoned himself into some type of belief. But now, through the voice of a child, he heard, “Tolle lege! Take up and read!” This was the time when the “rubber meets the road,” so to speak. This was the time to put that belief into practice, be baptized, put on Christ, and die to the old life of debauchery.
I have heard these words in my mind twice during periods of insomnia, and both in the last year.
“Really?” I asked this morning. Again, “Tolle lege,” but this time with the addition, “Romans 8.”
Okay. Fine. I got up and made myself a cup of cinnamon tea and started reading Romans 8.
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Rom 8:14-15).
Daddy. My Daddy. I am a daughter of the Father, and He is with me. Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? (John 14:1-2).
Do I believe?
There is more:
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom 8:18).
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:26-28).
Again, do I believe?
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?…For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:31, 38-39).
By 2:30 am my prayer was, “Ok, Lord. Thank You, Lord!” You see, like Augustine, I have reasoned my way into belief. Intellectual knowledge, also called head knowledge, is indeed important in the journey to the Father. But the Father wants more, which is why He sent His only Son, Jesus, to become flesh and suffer with us. We are joined to Him through Baptism; we are adopted sons and daughters who belong! The Father wants us to have intimate knowledge (yada, Heb.) of His love for us. He wants to bring us into the Trinitarian love of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This morning, the Holy Spirit brought me back to Scripture to tell me what I need to hear.
Our Heavenly Father is working everything for our good. These sufferings are nothing compared to the joy He has in store. He is preparing us to receive His gift of eternal life, and here is the paradox: since it is eternal, it is also present now. His presence, through the Spirit within us, is interceding for us in the depths of our souls, and nothing…NOTHING…can separate us from His love.
Not even a stupid virus.
Encouragement for the day: