As I stood near the dock of the lake this past Fourth of July, I delighted in watching my 8 and 10 year old boys as they ran up to me over and over with a firecracker in hand frantically inquiring, “Can I light it, can I light it?” Their excitement was overwhelming as they worked up more and more courage each time they lit the small explosive and then darted off in one direction or the other to get a safe distance away, so they could witness the bright and noisy chain of events that they had set into motion.
While certainly boys aren’t the only ones who get a kick out of igniting fireworks to celebrate the founding of our country, I noticed in a particular way, or maybe the Holy Spirit allowed me to see in a unique way, the desire that boys have in seeking power. Explosives, even fireworks, are a quick and destructive force which demand respect from the observer, a sense of awe because there is real power at work.
Boys Will Be Boys
This boyhood attraction to real power even wells up in men during the holiday festivities. We can’t help but love to blow crap up! As a SWAT operator this dance with great power is felt each time I set an explosive charge on a door. While I am trained to analyze the target, considering possible barricades, obstructions, or other hazards, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that every time the explosive chain is set in motion with its instant and decisive force, a loud “Woohoo, did you see that!!” is exclaimed, even if it can only be heard in my head.
Men seek real power and we yearn to take it unto ourselves or cooperate in its creation in various ways. Whether it is firing large caliber guns, running a front end loader, or flying a massive 747 plane, there is just something that real power draws out of men. Unfortunately, this gravitation towards power can often go sideways in men as we seek power to control others or put ourselves on a pedestal. However, this isn’t the power that satisfies, and honestly neither are explosives or front end loaders.
Real Power Comes From God
God is the author of power and his unique fingerprint is all over creation. Whether you see it in the volatile power of a volcano, or the unpredictable torrent of a tsunami, He created real power and wants to share something of His power with us. He wants to fulfill men’s great desire for true power which he himself imprinted into our very being because that is the only thing that will help us to overcome our inclinations for selfishness and sin. I don’t need another program or way of self-medicating my problems. I need real power.
How does God, the creator of the highest peaks and lowest valley’s on earth, as well as the billions of stars, want to dispense his power to you and to me? The Holy Eucharist, and the Sacraments of the Catholic Church. While you and I have trouble perceiving this power, it doesn’t change the fact that it is real.
We can see how this power was perceived by the Saints like Saint Ignatius of Loyola, who was an ordinary dude like you and me until he encountered Christ’s real power. He was a soldier who loved women and was very concerned with his looks early on in his life. He had a botched surgery on his leg during a war and was so embarrassed by the way that his leg looked he had the doctor re-break it so he would still look attractive to dames. While stuck in bed recovering he was brought books about the Life of Christ and of the Saints. Since he had nothing else to read he dove in and he saw in Jesus and the Saints real power.
He went on to encounter the power of Christ in the Eucharist and thenceforth changed the world. He developed his order called the Society of Jesus, or Jesuits, which has changed the lives of millions of souls.
We are all called to be saints but we have to be open to receiving and perceiving God’s great power that He wants desperately to give us. As St. Catherine of Siena powerfully put it
Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.