Everything Appropriate To Its Time

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In today\’s reading from Ecclesiates, Qoholeth (or Solomon) says, \”I have considered the task that God has appointed for the sons of men to be busied about. He has made everything appropriate to its time, and has put the timeless into their hearts, without man\’s ever discovering, from beginning to end, the work which God has done.\” In other words, our job is to concentrate on the work we have to do int he present moment, without being concerned for the future known only to God. It\’s hard to live this concept, though! Especially right now, when our society is turned upside-down by worries of all kinds, particularly the coming national elections and the pandemic.

In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis\’ famous epistolary novel composed of letters from an experienced tempter to his young nephew trying to steal a soul from God for the first time, this crisis of the future is  neatly summed up: 

Your patient will, of course, have picked up the notion that he must submit with patience to the Enemy\’s will. What the Enemy means by this is primarily that he should accept with patience the tribulation which has actually been dealt out to him–the present anxiety and suspense. It is about this that he is to say, \”Thy will be done,\” and for the daily task of bearing this that the daily bread will be provided. It is your business to see that the patient never thinks of the present fear as his appointed cross, but only of the things he is afraid of. Let him regard them as his crosses: let him forget that, since they are incompatible, they cannot all happen to him. (from Letter VI)

C.S. Lewis goes to on explain the state Screwtape hopes to see his nephew\’s \”patient\” in: a fog of confusion wherein he is constantly thinking, \”If A happens, I can do B; if B happens (and I hope not!), I can do C; if A and B both happen (unlikely, but who knows?) I could always do D, and if everything else fails there is always E or F.\” While this may sound like common prudence, it isn\’t. The best thing we can do is simply place our lives, our very selves into God\’s hands, and let Him be about His business day by day. 

Screwtape continues to his nephew Wormwood:

To be sure, the Enemy wants men to think of the Future too–just so much as is necessary for now planning the acts of justice or charity which will probably be their duty tomorrow. The duty of planning the morrow\’s work is today\’s duty; though its material is borrowed from the future, the duty, like all duties, is in the present….He does not want men to give the Future their hearts, to place their treasure in it. We do….We want a man hag-ridden by the Future–haunted by visions of an imminent heaven or hell upon earth–ready to break the Enemy\’s commands in the Present if by so doing we make him think he can attain the one or avert the other. (from Letter XVI)

We all fall prey to this temptation to one degree or another. We avoid it by placing our trust in God and His perfect timing day by day, moment by moment. Our Lord told us, \”Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.\” We have enough to occupy ourselves in the present without worrying about the future. Let us take concrete action at the appropriate time: voting in the election, wearing a mask and taking other precautions when we go out, whatever is needed in the moment. God will give us the grace we need in every trial, but He will only give it when the trial comes. 

Morning Star

The first star to appear in the evening–and the last to disappear as the sun rises–is not a star at all. It is the planet Venus. Pagan thought connected this planet with the goddess called Venus and had special rites and prayer according to the planet\’s position in the sky, both over time and in the course of the day. (Because, after all, Venus is still up there, though we can\’t see it when the sun is shining brightly!) 
In his novel Perelandra, C. S. Lewis presented the planet not so much as a pagan deity but as an entity whose aspect is feminine, just as Mars (or Malacandra) was seen as a masculine entity in his novel Out of the Silent Planet. He suggests that the pagans had the right idea about certain things (such as the apparent gender of the planets) although they were very wrong about many other things. But what does all this have to do with Mary? 
Mary is called the Morning Star because she was and is the Mother of Jesus. Just as we know morning is coming when we see the stars wink out, one by one, leaving only Venus shining brightly, so too the many prophets and different people who foreshadowed the coming of Christ fade into history as the Virgin Mary takes her preeminent role as the true herald of salvation. Her willing fiat is the first sign of a new creation in the world. At the same time, just as the morning star fades from sight as the sun rises, so too does Mary willingly surrender the attention of the world to her son Jesus, Who is our Savior.
Mary, Morning Star, help me to be aware of when God is asking me to shine and when He is asking me to step back. May I be gracious in allowing others to take the starring role in life when You ask this of me.