If you attended a Catholic school, you probably learned the practice of writing “JMJ” at the top of your paper. It was a lovely little reminder to honor Jesus, Mary and Joseph every day, and to ask their guidance in your school work.
In the Catholic school I attended, staffed by wonderful Benedictine Nuns, we were taught to write something a bit more complex on our papers – “UIOGD.” It was the acronym for the Latin, Benedictine phrase, Ut In Omnibus, Glorificetur Deus, or “That in all things God may be glorified.” Note the emphasis on “all things,” and therein lies a significant challenge for the spiritual life.
It’s easy to glorify God, to thank Him, on good days when things go well, when we’re in good health, when a baby is born, when our family is getting along, when we get a new job, or when we pass an exam.
But what about on those bad days, when things don’t go so well, those days we all have from time to time? Can we thank and glorify God when a loved one dies, when we learn we have a serious illness, when we lose our job, when we’re in a fender-bender on a busy highway? “That in ALL things, God may be glorified,” the saying insists.
Here I think of what Job said, in the midst of his enormous suffering: “Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go back again. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1: 21)
What are the virtues we need to imitate Job, to praise God when bad things happen? Well, first we need the gift of faith – an ongoing friendship with God that’s strong and resilient enough to stand the test of time. And we also need perspective. Although some problems really are significant and life-changing, not all problems are, and we need the wisdom to know the difference. And finally we need patience, the virtue that looks to tomorrow, the virtue that says, even in the midst of the storm, “this too shall pass.”
As a school kid I wrote it on my paper: “UIOGD.” May it be a phrase we put into practice each and every day.
Something to think about: This day, praise and thank God for his goodness, regardless of what comes your way.