Sunday, October 10, 2010

Present Moment Musings

Had an unexpected call yesterday, early evening. A young college woman asked to spend the night rather than drive a distance and having to return to this area the next day.  My evening plans changed easily from reading more about Jesus in the Schnackenburg book and early to bed, to hosting a friend, listening and sharing until nearly midnight.

We spoke of many things, all spiritual intent and content, the interweaving of daily life, her life as a student and part-time worker, family member, friend and various relationships in the life of an active person with lovely talents offered for Jesus, always. We spoke of trials of health and emotional challenges in her life, juggling so much, yet handling it better than she realizes.

While listening, on occasion some thoughts would be expressed from my own observations and realizations. Shared a little of the increasing solitude, but not much, and yet more of the offering and intent to live whatever is left of this earthly existence, striving to be in Christ and to climb the stairway to heaven. May as well, for all other doors close seemingly before I even place knuckles to knock. 

And to persevere despite the sense of dying repeatedly, of perhaps even suffocating when the mind begins telling me that this is not how life should be. Why am I doing this to myself? But then, I realize that there is really no other option, for the doors to the more active and social life do not open, not even in the rare instances when there is a hope of a slight creaking open, just a hair crack opening. But no.

This morning wrote of recent trends, what comprises a holy or saintly person (conditions and requisites of canonization, but not inclusive of God's view of sanctity).  In reading about martyrdom, three categories surfaced, this time with some of the best definitions yet.

From the Cambrai homily, 7-8th century (contemporary with Bede):
“… the holy Apostle has said from his great love; everyone’s sickness was his own, everyone’s offense was his own, everyone’s weakness was his own. In these wise words of the wise man we see that fellow-suffering is a kind of Cross. Now there are three kinds of martyrdom that are counted as a cross to us, namely, white, blue and red martyrdom.
[It is white martyrdom for a man when he separates from everything that he loves for God, although he does not endure fasting and labor thereby. (1)]
"The blue martyrdom is when through fasting and hard work they control their desires or struggle in penance and repentance. The red martyrdom is when they endure a cross or destruction for Christ’s sake, as happened to the Apostles when they were persecuted the wicked and taught the law of God.
"These three kinds of martyrdom take place in those people who repent well [blue], who control their desires [white], and who shed their blood [red] in fasting and labor for Christ’s sake.” (Celtic Spirituality, ed. by O. Davis, T. O’Loughlin, Paulist Press, 1999, p. 370)
A couple years ago overheard a priest mention in homily that hermits are considered the blue marytrs. This would fit the above citation from an early Celtic homily on the topic, since a hermit or recluse (enkleistoi) not only separates from everything that he loves, for God, but also through fasting and hard work learns to moderate desires and struggles in penance and repentance. A victim soul would qualify, also, while living the suffering, living the martyrdom. 

Virgins seem to exemplify the white martyrs, as do also those who give up possibility of life as they knew it or due to dying from natural causes for the sake of another life or for the love of God. Victim souls could also figure in the white martyrdom category, unless their suffering becomes a form of labor, penance, and repentance, which it usually does.

Perhaps this clarification helps in my present moments of experiencing a sense of death to self in the isolation, in the thought of having been suffocated, and of being suffocated when the isolation is considered for the reality. That sense of being shut out from any active participation in the Church, and perhaps in a couple days even the spiritual director may close the door to online writing. The Lord has shut me out of active participation in Mass, choosing to pluck me from the temporal, thus causing a sense of isolation by the varied reactions to people present, mostly that of distancing themselves, or an awkwardness toward the unknown.

But the Lord loves a cheerful giver, and am reminding myself of this truth many times in many present moments. The young guest this morning expressed a point of last night's discussion: the desire to do more for God, to consciously do more for Him.

I suggested that perhaps this is the plight of the crossroads in the soul's conscious actions and devotions, that in faith all our body, mind, heart and spirit are devoted to God in every present moment, with the suffering being not consciously aware of our devotion, and of the pain of thinking and feeling that we are not loving Him as we ought.

Addendum: This morning, prior to early Mass, reading Office, morning prayer Canticle antiphon:
You have left everything to follow me; you will have it all returned a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.  

I shall stick to the plan here, the offering made, and encourage others, as well, no matter their station in life. It is possible to leave everything to follow Christ. One must learn the map of the interior, of the soul. There one learns to leave everything, without exterior notice, other than the essence of Christ. 

Yes, Christ's essence is the "all a hundredfold" that we desire and that He desires very much for every one of us. A map He's laid out for my life, to which I have agreed, yet not knowing what's around the next corner or over yon hill. But I have agreed, and so I must proceed, with or without enthusiasm and joy. So it may as well be with enthusiasm and joy. Why not? 

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