Pondering Divine Wisdom from the Deep Sea

Gerin declared enthusiastically: “What I really like is when you tell about our family’s past.” To which his kindly grandmother replied: “Well, in that case, it will be a long story indeed! …”

There once was a family of whales who lived in the peaceful waters of a great sea. Their species was noted for its extremely long lifespan. For them, the age of majority was a thousand years old and they could live for up to three millennia!

As the rays of dawn gradually illuminate the ocean depths, we find the grandmother whale, Grandina, still fast asleep. She is an astounding two thousand eight hundred years old! Suddenly her deep repose is disturbed by some strange movement in the water. Is it a tsunami? Or perhaps a passing war submarine? Nothing quite so serious… It is only her little grandson, Gerin, swimming about with a vigour beyond his seven years of age. He is busy practising acrobatics, and does not even notice that he has interrupted his grandmother’s blissful rest…

Coming up beside her, the youngster begs her to tell him one of her stories.

“What type of story, Gerin dear? Fairy tales, fables, adventures, wars, lives of the Saints…?”

“Grandma, what I really like is when you tell about our family’s past.”

“Oh, well in that case, it will be a long story indeed! Do you know about what happened to your great-grandfather Olinab?”

“No. What era did he live in?”

“It was at a time when humans were displeasing God a great deal with their sins, and were punished by torrential rains that lasted forty days and forty nights! At the Lord’s command, a righteous man, Noah, built a gigantic ark to save his relatives and a pair of every kind of animal.”

“And did great-grandfather get into the ark?”

“No, my child! The entire surface of the earth was submerged in water, so no sea creature needed to enter the ark. But he remained close by, so as to observe that faithful man. After the deluge, the water still covered the earth for one hundred and fifty days as it slowly subsided. Finally, great-grandfather saw the dove that carried an olive branch to Noah, symbolizing the end of the punishment. And he also beheld the first rainbow that ever appeared in the skies: it was the sign of God’s covenant with living beings.”

“Oh, what an honour for my great-grandfather! What else can you tell me, grandma?”

“Then the Lord commanded the fish to vomit Jonah upon dry land”

Something truly historic also happened with my father. A prophet by the name of Jonah disobeyed the command of the Most High, who had sent him as a messenger to convert the inhabitants of Nineveh. Not at all fond of the Ninevites, he shirked his duty and boarded a ship bound for Tarshish.”

“That is terrible! And so God’s will wasn’t done?”

“Ah, my little grandson, when the Almighty wills something, no one can stand in His way! He cast a violent storm upon the boat. The sailors would all have drowned if they hadn’t discovered that Jonah was one to blame for the calamity. To escape death, they threw him mercilessly to the waves, and the storm ceased immediately.”

Wondering how the story might end, Gerin asked:

“Did he die, then? And did the Ninevites just keep on sinning?”

“What happened next is the best part! Holy Scripture tells us: ‘But the Lord sent a great fish to swallow Jonah, and he remained in the belly of the fish three days and three nights’ (Jon 2:1). It was my father who swallowed him, dear! And the story continues: ‘Then the Lord commanded the fish to vomit Jonah upon dry land’ (Jon 2:11). Only then did the prophet head to Nineveh. His mission was a success and the fruits of penance and conversion were reaped in that land!”

“It makes me so proud to have an ancestor who served as God’s instrument for the salvation of men! Oh, tell me more! Tell me something about yourself!”

Grandina gazed upward, as she often did when recalling bygone days.

“Several times, when I was young, I watched the travels of a certain Israelite from a distance. He was somewhat short in stature, with a lively gaze and fiery manner. I used to like following him about and, on some occasions, I could even hear his words. Can you guess who it was?”

Gerin thought for a moment, but could not come up with an answer. So his grandmother told him:

“It was St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles!”

“Really, grandma? You actually knew him? The saint who had Angels around him to hear him preach the Gospel?”

“Yes, my little grandson! Every day I thank Heaven for that grace! Several times he was even shipwrecked in our waters, but the Lord always saved him in the end.”

And she went on:

“Now let me tell you of an impressive event I witnessed, along with my young, back in the 16th century: It was the naval battle that took place in the Gulf of Lepanto, off the land of Greece!”

The little whale widened his eyes and exclaimed:

“A war at sea? Tell me about it, grandma!”

The enemies far outnumbered the Christian fleet. I later learned that exactly while the battle was taking place, Pope St. Pius V was offering confident prayers to Heaven. At the decisive moment, just when human hopes were about to surrender in face of the impossible, Our Lady Help of Christians appeared on the horizon and, at the sight of Her, the enemy scattered and was defeated. It was a stunning victory!”

Gerin promised to treasure this lesson: God always guides the course of events for His glory

“Wow, grandma, I never heard of that battle before.”

“You’re only seven years old, my dear… There’s still a lot to discover.”

“How I would love to help warriors fight for Christ! What else do you remember, grandma? Do you have any other war stories?”

Grandina drew her grandson under her flipper and gave him an affectionate squeeze, saying:

The main point of these stories, darling, is the lesson we can learn from them. What lesson do you think we can take from all of this?”

“Um… I don’t know, exactly…”

“This is the lesson, that you too must later pass on: no matter how many zigzags history may take, even if there is infidelity and weakness on the part of creatures, God always guides the course of events for His glory and for the triumph of the Holy Catholic Church. Our species has been privileged to see the Lord showing his constant care cross the centuries, and we praise Him in His greatness! Is that clear, my little dear?”

“Very clear, grandma! I will treasure this precious lesson and one day pass it on to my descendants. Yes, I, too, want to always praise the Most High, recognizing His infinite goodness and wisdom.” 

 

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