Thursday, October 28, 2010

Saints Hunting Us Down for Christ

Ruth has written helpful comments that include use of a phrase I find intriguing--that of saints hunting us down for Christ. Saints do persist in wanting to help us come closer to Christ.  They love God so much and are in the beatific vision in heaven, having ascended and descended the Stairway to Heaven so many times while on earth, their souls being step-by-step perfected. They also would step back into the temporal fray, helping their contemporaries, while simultaneously being strengthened for the next step.

At some God-ordained moment, saints make a final ascent, depart physical bodies at death, their souls joining the Communion of Saints in heaven, praising God.  They also continue in His will which seems to include helping us through their prayers, encouragement, and sometimes by locutions, dreams, vision visits, and natural, temporal interventions.  

These helps can be of the inner and/or outer senses, mystical phenomenon, and seem to come at turning points, major shifts in our lives. They mostly arrive, unexpectedly, when we are not comprehending God's will.  Perhaps the supernal helps seem rare because we are not sensitized or are weak in belief.

However, with such matters come great responsibility, not so much because we may be asked to share some message, but because we need to discern for the deeper conversions of our own souls and lives.  We cannot afford to be tricked by the devil who can tweak our psyches.  Thus, it is always advised to never seek after such, as they come unbidden.  We pray for help, and God decides when and how. 

We do need to learn to discern spirits as well as develop awareness in our inner senses.  All this will come naturally--not forced and not some funky, supernatural wish.  We must not hang welcome and open house signs for the devil and his legions to effect home invasions of body, mind, and soul. 

As we practice the formative standard of the Nine S', we apply ourselves to the Gospel Rule and the virtues, truth, beauty, and goodness result.  We remain in God's will. The Holy Trinity, Virgin Mary, the angels, our guardian angel, and saints will provide what is natural and essential.  

As St. Teresa of Avila explained in her writings, while not everyone experiences contemplative prayer, everyone can become holy.  At certain levels of prayer, we can lend our efforts; at the point between meditation and contemplation, God takes over.  It is simply His choice and determination as to infusing contemplation, and reflects not on our efforts, exemplary though they may be.  One who prays lovingly, purely, a simple verbal prayer may please God and do much good for the soul, as much or more as one who meditates without love and humility. 

But now I turn to the following of Ruth's thoughts.  

"Your story about St. Teresa and the psychology prof. was really beautiful.  It almost seems like she was hunting you down for Christ.  It must have been an amazing receptivity to witness.  I could see why the New Age lady thought you were channeling spirits.  She probably knew or at least heard of the catholic ideas of saints, so talking or channeling the souls of saints may have been the first thing that came to mind.  You said that you were not catholic at the time, I just kind of wondered how shocked or excited you were to find out that the person who had spoken to you was a real person, who had lived centuries ago?"

I found the experience in the classroom to be humbling and awesome in the holy sense of awe-of-God.  I immediately knew from the content what the Medieval woman said to me, aloud for others to benefit if they wished, that God was consoling me from the painful news of the day before that I would bear a life-long cross of worsening pain. He also was laying out the challenge to learn to love in order to co-exist and be utilized in the suffering.  I have yet much to learn in loving.

I doubt the skeptical, new age woman thought of Catholic saints.  New age practitioners generally are an entity unto themselves, and they channel their own spirit guides who they invite and ask to speak or to "read" someone's life.  Channeling was this new age woman's sole experience, thus her comment. 
 I know I did not think of saints. Saints were not mentioned in my then 37 years of Protestant life.  To me, this was an amazing event, meeting the Medieval woman who spoke soul-thrilling wisdom that touched me deeply, personally, with loving help to my life of pain.  

But also, invaluable to note, the Medieval woman (who years later I recognized as St. Teresa of Avila), read the New Age woman's mind, asked her to speak, then took the reins by telling her lovingly but firmly the realities of dangerous, New Age ideologies.  

During the admonitions, I could hear and think, and I recall embarrassed concern that the New Age students would later lash out at me.  But, the Holy Spirit is indomitable, and after [St. Teresa] concluded her corrective discourse to the New Age woman, she bid adieu. She had accomplished what I and others needed to learn at whatever level we could absorb. While the the New Age woman did not relent her position, she was uniquely subdued.

More from Ruth: 

"I'm sorry for my curiosity.  I only ask because, I seem to have a saint that is currently hunting me and Sam [husband] down.  Nothing supernatural or anything like that, I just keep running into her everywhere and have since I was little.  But I didn't know who she was, much less that she was a saint until a third degree relic showed up in the mail (my Mom didn't want it, so she sent it to me as a surprise).  It was a bit of a shock, after all the 'run ins' with Mother Theodore Guerin, to suddenly find out she is a saint.  She "showed up" during a time of terrible distress for Sam and me.  But since her arrival Sam and I have had such changes of heart.  I don't really know if St. Mother Guerin's intersession or "presence" has anything to do with our yearning for spiritual growth, but the inspiration and will was not there before her relic arrived.  I wonder how much more inspired you were, to find the road to perfection, when you found out about St. Teresa of Avila?"

Ruth is describing a beautiful relationship that St. Mother Theodore Guerin has been commissioned to develop with Ruth, trying to awaken in Ruth awareness beginning years before the saint was canonized.  When we finally realize help has been available from heavenly saints or angels, and we have not been alert, we may feel remorse.  Why did we not recognize?  Why did we wait so long to believe?  Perhaps we have not known to live in Christ in the present moment, nor to exist in His spiritual order.  But God understands us better than we do ourselves, and the angels and saints are patiently persistent.  

We can recall situations that we wish we'd acted on a hunch or direct intervention.  Our turning point now is be watchful.  Simply ask for God's help and know in faith that He will help us in whatever way He determines.  The help may come as subtle thoughts or nudges.  Or He sends answers in a lucid or symbolic dream.  He answers through people in our daily lives offering wise counsel, expressing love, or through insights during silent prayer or in uncanny "coincidences" that snag our attention.  We recognize even more the value of learning to live lovingly, watchfully, in Christ in the present moment.

So Ruth has had these encounters with Mother Theodore Guerin, not realizing until recently a saint.  Now Ruth has made connection during a time of spiritual need.  The tangible relic received unexpectedly was an awakening touch.  Now Ruth can read about this saint, get to know life on earth, and also in faith begin thinking about her as she is now, a saint in the presence of God who desires helping Ruth and Sam in their spiritual yearnings.  

Once supernal, holy alliances grow, we become less interested in what previously may have filled spare time.  We find in Christ's present moment, there is no spare time.  Fiction does not satisfy, television and movies lose allure, and pointless other distractions drop.  However, we should not neglect our due responsibilities or become spiritually entranced or imbalanced.  Ruth knows this, but others may not.    

St. Ignatius of Loyola in his Spiritual Exercises gives wise council on discernment of spirits [Rules for the Discernment of Spirits; Other Rules for Better Discernment of Spirits]. One indicator of the Holy Spirit presence in situations is genuine peace bestowed as well as holy and right action.  Situations may require testing over time and discussion with a wise confessor.  Ruth cites good fruit coming from friendship with St. Mother Guerin: spiritually positive change of heart, plus the will and yearning for spiritual progress, the love of God, and eventual divine union.

Was I shocked or excited when later realized the Medieval woman to be St. Teresa of Avila?  I was amazed but quietly humbled, and somewhat embarrassed.  I did not speak further of the experience except to a psychologist helping me with pain management and career hopes.  Since I did not recognize the woman then, we explored more the experience than her identity.   

Years later when I recognized St. Teresa, it didn't seem necessary to tell anyone.  By then it was mediated by other experiences, and I felt it best to keep them to myself. I may have shared with a confessor.  Sometimes those we think should or would understand, do not.  Disclosure discretion is necessary.  While these experiences are significant to our own inner spiritual growth and as means by which God reaches us so that we will cooperate in His will, they can inspire others in faith.  God desires deeper conversions of faith, asks us to fulfill missions on earth, and/or gives consolations to strengthen us for further efforts. 

If sharing an experience helps others to not fear, but to learn to work with God in His will and purpose, then good. Primarily they are meant for the person experiencing, but there is benefit to being aware of supernatural realities--not seek the unusual but definitely not ignore God's gifts, messages or His messengers. 

Many people may have gifts from God that they do not know how to discern, unwrap and utilize.  Others may stifle God's subtleties out of fear of being disbelieved or misunderstood.  We need to grow in faith. Yet we also must be like explosive experts, able to detect bombs and defuse them when they are disguised tricks of the devil.

This post is lengthy but hopefully, prayerfully, helpful.

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