On Forgetting God

Now, your humble aniblogger has at last caught up with all of the Fall 2015 anime on his watchlist.  Expect a post covering my general impressions of these shows and another on what I intend to watch from this season.  In a way, it’s useful to come late to a new season: people have sorted the trash from the mediocre and the good.  So, I reap the fruits of their efforts and time—spent or misspent as the case may be.

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At any rate, the idea for the present article comes from a thought which struck me as I watched the second half of Noragami Aragoto, which, like the previous season, ended on a spectacular note.  Others have likely also been struck by how easy it was for Hiyori to forget Yato, and how much of the conflict revolved around Hiyori retaining the memory of him.  This became especially poignant in the latter episodes where Nora succeeded in separating her and Yato for over a month.

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At first, I shook my head at what appeared to be a very contrived plot device: we never forget close friends and family despite perhaps not speaking to them for long periods of time.  How can Hiyori forget Yato, who happens to be not only a close friend but a god?  Then, the thought occurred to me that, just as Noragami‘s concept of sin closely mirrored the Catholic faith’s understanding of sin, Hiyori’s forgetfulness of Yato was supposed to reflect the human inclination to forget God, to turn our loving Father, greatest Friend, and very Life from a reality into a mere concept.  The Parable of the Sower pops to mind: “As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who heeds the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful” (Matt. 13:22).  These two things, anxieties and riches, cause people to place a low priority on God.  As God is less prioritized, people forget the instances of God’s mercy to them, His general providence for them, and even the most intimate expressions of God’s friendship and love for them.  Such forgetfulness can even cause some to lose faith as they pay more attention to the anxieties oppressing them and how money provides security and pleasure.

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But, is it possible for faithful persons let this catastrophe happen?  All that is required is a little laziness, a little avarice, and a little pride—such small amounts of vice as people neglect to fully uproot and hence cause innumerable stumbles.  Do we sleep so long that no time for prayer is left in  the morning?  Do we laze about after work enjoying trivial pleasures and amusements until we have barely enough time for an Our Father before nodding off to sleep?  Are most of our days spent running errands, cooking, cleaning, and performing little chores—giving ourselves in the service of others but not joining our service of others to our worship of God?  Does work absorb all our hours and thoughts even on Sunday?  At free moments, do we browse the internet looking for new things useful and pleasant?  Do we frequent stores looking to amass more wealth needlessly?  Do we spend too much time worrying about the ups and downs of personal relationships?  Is political strife or the news absorbing our attention?  Finances?  All of the above and more can lead to distancing God from us and forgetting His Goodness.

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Even St. Anthony Mary Claret, so holy that his body was found incorrupt after almost three decades in the tomb, almost let his factory work displace God.  He loved working with machines and pondering improvements on them.  Thoughts of his work began to fulfill every waking moment, which he did not mind except when it distracted him from holy meditation and the Mass.  Once during Mass, he tells us that “there were more machines in my head than saints on the altar.”  His distress at this level of distraction produced a profound conversion in him, as he resolved to become a Carthusian monk.  (These monks belong to one of the most austere orders in the Catholic Church.)  Instead, he would become a tireless missionary priest.  What great resolve on his part never to forget God nor let the seed of Faith to be choked!

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Still, many of my dear readers are legitimately busy or have many problems to tackle on a daily basis.  Must they become ascetics lest they forget God?  No, though a few may actually be called to such a life.  Instead, let us all imitate St. Gertrude the Great.  Through a vision, God revealed the extent of St. Gertrude’s faithful devotion to a fellow religious of hers: Christ was depicted on a throne, and St. Gertrude performed all her duties around this throne without taking her eyes off Our Lord.  Thus, she not only gave Christ the central place but even the only place in her life.  If we could perfectly imitate St. Gertrude, all things would be done for, in, and through God and nothing could cause us to forget Him.

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There is no lifestyle—excepting one built upon deliberate sin—which cannot be converted to the complete service of God.  Brother Lawrence, whose maxims appear in The Practice of the Presence of God, lamented that most people lost much merit because they did not offer all they did to God, which would have sanctified even the most ordinary actions of theirs.  All that is needed is a change of mind!  How can we forget God if we always think of Him even during the most exacting business?  Yet, we are fortunate that God always knocks at our hearts and can bring our attention back to Him even after wandering far from Him for dozens of years.

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5 comments on “On Forgetting God

  1. […] In Noragami Aragoto, Hiyori’s forgetfulness of Yato reflects the human inclination to forget God. [Medieval Otaku] […]

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  2. Samuru says:

    Great article first off, I enjoyed it and reminded me of the love our Heavenly Father has for us. He’s the best Father in the universe, and has been to me since I surrendered my life to Him.

    I have a question for you, about St. Anthony Mary Claret. Very interesting that his body remained how it did after 30 years, it reminded me of the bones of Elisha that when they touched the dead body after being placed in the grave, they resurrected! Maybe the glory of God was over his physical body as well?

    Anyways, my question is, do you think God had called him to work on machines and maybe even improve on technology of that day instead of dedicating his life to be a monk? If he had that passion in him, I don’t believe it was there by accident. I believe that you can live out a Godly life, dedicated to Him, and it not be in a ministerial/priestly position like a pastor, priest, serving in a ministry, etc.

    God bless.

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    • I’m very glad that you enjoyed the article, and even more happy that it reminded you of the love the Father has for you. Too many people imagine the Father as always angry and too strict, but He truly is a loving Father and His justice derives from His love.

      With the great saints, God’s glory and power often emanates from their bodies. All Christians are temples of the Holy Spirit. In the case of St. Peter, his very shadow caused cures, and the napkins used by St. Paul also cured the sick. “The Lord is for the body, and the body is for the Lord,” as the Good Book says.

      That’s an interesting question about St. Anthony. I think that God has more than one possible plan for people, but that is especially the case for those with religious vocations. In the cases of St. Colette, St. Faustina, and St. Margaret Mary, God seemed to demand that they become nuns. But, with St. Anthony, God’s Plan A was no doubt for him to become a missionary, but He gave him also the talents to be a great inventor. The Catholic Church describes the priestly vocation as an invitation, so one would not be offending God by turning it down but choosing a lesser good. St. Anthony could have been a good or great inventor, but his missionary life helped many thousands of people to great holiness; so it must have been the higher vocation of the two. It is certainly true that one can lead a life of great holiness in any vocation, but the vocations devoted more exclusively to God’s service usually produce the holiest persons.

      God bless!

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      • Samuru says:

        Thanks, good answer to my question, I appreciate it 🙂 That is very true, those dedicated completely to God will definitely produce more fruit in helping others grow to know Christ more through their own personal relationship with Him. They have more time to focus on that relationship, thus being able to give more to others through ministry unlike others.

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