“All of God’s purposes are to the good, although we may not always understand this we can trust in it.” — St. Philip Neri
Philip Neri was neither the first nor the last saint to remind us that God’s purposes, though far beyond our comprehension, are “always to the good” and trustworthy, but he said it perfectly and succinctly. If we have faith, Neri’s words apply a mysterious balm of consolation during challenging times, times when we don’t understand why sad, harrowing, senseless, tragic, or just plain weird things are happening to us or to others. It is a balm of reassurance—one that reminds us that we are given opportunities to cooperate with a divine plan that is yet unfolding, and thus to co-create within that plan as best we can.
“As best we can” means, in part, settling ourselves down—putting away our panic, letting go of our anger, if we can, in order to recognize and accept that sometimes bad things, unjust things, are permitted in order that something else, something new, something completely unexpected and good, may yet come forward. This is, of course, the great message of the crucifix: the brutal injustice of Jesus’ torture and execution were permitted—painfully, earthshakingly—in order that he might be resurrected and glorified as the Messianic victor and defeater of death.