Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ridding Out Phenomena and Obedience

Another rather personal post, but nothing desires to help others who may encounter similar situations, or not.  For those who do not, but who may wonder or desire such things, perhaps it will help them realize it is not cracked up to what their imaginations envision.  (Maybe it is not proper to write of such matters, but then, it seems helpful in some ways, to others out there or later on.  If not, God will let nothing know, and this post will go into draft mode.)

A phenomena has occurred at each Mass for nearly three years.  Won't go into the details, but it is beautiful in a surreal and profound sense, yet cloaked with much persecution, suspicion, and awkward reactions from others including envy, anger, misunderstanding, mild adulation and/or avoidance.  For the person experiencing such a thing, the inner profundity sustains and supersedes the outer.  However, the outer can experience anguish, including self-doubts and scrutinies.

The spiritual director recently suggested, more pointedly, that we get rid of this thing.  Of course, nothing had tried various ways to have it stop.  The state persists.  Tried other parishes, self-inflicted pain, forcing alertness, putting the mind to other than Mass, staying away awhile.  Beseech the Lord; tell Him the priests and the spiritual director and nothing all want this to be lifted.  Prayer has been tried many times, over and over, before Mass, during the night, by others and by nothing. 

This time he gave stronger directive.  Ask Jesus to lift this so that you can participate normally in Mass and receive Communion under normal circumstances.  This is my direction.  Reminding the spiritual director of on-going prayer for this same end has resulted in nothing changed other than sometimes deeper states.  Remember when this was prayed last summer, even telling Jesus that the director orders this?  The Lord simply said, "This is how I am loving you!"--and the situation continued at every Mass in varying degrees of profundity and depth.

So now the spiritual director suggested nothing try standing in the back of the church.  Walk around if you must.  Nothing tried to explain again what happens to the heart, what happened when a priest had said, "Fight it! Fight it!  Force yourself to stand at least during the Gospel!"  Well, nothing could not.  The force was too powerful, and the heart not able to sustain the body in that state.

Dr. H. was consulted.  He told nothing that no matter what is asked, no matter what happens to the body, God will take care of nothing.  If a heart attack and death, what better place to die than in church and with the soul in that beautiful state?

But after the director insisting that surely nothing could stop this thing from within, to pray and to cooperate with God...surely it would lift,  nothing prayed for courage to do simply what the dear spiritual director requested and suggested.  Nothing somehow found itself praying for the intercessions of St. Joseph of Cupertino.  Not sure why, but he came to mind.  Courage!  Obedience!

The next morning, nothing remained in the back, standing.  Per usual, into the first reading of the Word, the force overpowered and nothing was felled to the floor.  There was not even a chance to try to take a step toward a pew, let alone "walk around a little."  Sprawled across the center aisle, in the back by the doors, nothing remained lifeless until after Mass.  Enough; it does not matter now.

It is not fun to be misunderstood, maligned, helpless to alter or control what happens to the body.  To think, also, that the director did not believe or trust--but that was not the case.  He apologized deeply, and said we will not try anything else other than to pray for God's will.  But yes, he said it is difficult to understand this thing.

These things have nothing to do with the person.  Nothing is wretched, a sinner, nothing special, not exemplary in most aspects.  These things God determines for His own uses and designs.  It is rather random, from the human standpoint; luck of the draw, perhaps--although we can see now that these matters are not fun-and-games. 

At least we know that for one who has feared falling to an extreme, it is not something that can be simply altered from within, or from without.  This is a force beyond mortal control.  Others, not understanding, have previously tried to rouse, move, lift or revive nothing.  The breathing and heart rate are next to nil, they say.

However, there is a point, a message, that nothing has heard deep within, told in some dimension of bliss and love.  It is that the mystery of God, the mystical realm, the spiritual realities, are all around us, among us, now.  And the temporal is always passing away.  The mystical realm is our home for all eternity, and it exists in Christ among us in the present moments of life.  This thing  during Mass is but a reminder, a sign of the supernatural reality of Christ in our midst, the power of the Word of God, and the glory of the Sacrifice of the Mass.

And one must always be obedient, even unto death.

To Be a Christian in the World

Nothing has been busy in the gardens lately.  More Japanese Maples added, and introducing Ginkgo Biloba and Quercus Rober to the landscape.  All are dwarfs.  Down by Lake Immaculata (subdivision pond!) is now a kind of rare Persica (Ironwood) "Kews Weeping".  Good downpour in the last hour or two keeps one inside.  Much to do inside, as well.

In this morning's Office of Readings, a letter to Diognetus expresses the role and function of the Christian in the world.  In our location, we deal with a start-up group that exists contrary to what is stated in this letter attributed among the early Church Fathers, written in the 2nd century.  It is the earliest known example of Christian apologetics.  What was sound advice and example in the early Church, helps us today to review and reformulate how we are living our lives in both externals and internals.

Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language, or customs.  They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life.  Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men.  Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine.  With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in....

And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives....They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens....Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them.  They share their meals, but not their wives.  They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh.  They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven.  Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law....

This letter continues to describe the persecution Christians undergo, and the heroic and loving response of Christians to their persecutors.  Then the author presents a metaphor of the Christian to the world as the soul is to the body.

As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world.  As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen.... It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together.  The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven....

The Lord sent nothing some persons who desire counsel, or life coaching, as is the popular term.  Nothing calls it Christ coaching, as nothing and all of us nothings are spiritual beings--souls in our mortal dwelling place, for now.  One asked questions specific to marriage keeping one from union with Christ.  And others, including nothing, have pondered the externals in our lives in Christ.  What is written approximately 18 centuries ago, seems sound.  It runs counter to the ways of some in our time who dress as religious of the past several centuries, or who live their lives being noticed and in opposition to the life and culture of their environment.

This reading promotes invaluable reflection.  By blending in, and the religious life remaining hidden, we give Christ the glory of His due by being Christians living in the world, yet not of it.  Is this another way of describing the life of the temporal Catholic world, the visible Church, the social Church, the noticed and distinctively unusual lives--outlandish, if truthful--of some religious solitaries and groups?  We may then place this externally-noticed way beside the option of remaining in Christ in the mystery of His life among us and of us subsumed in His life: the mystical Catholic world, the interior Church, the spiritual world. 

One aspect of a life in Christ, sprouting forth during this week of warm, spring rains is that we are to love our lives and enjoy living.  Utilize the gift of time, and rejoice in the many ways we can be His in the Church and in the world, without wearing our Christianity in counter-cultural apparel and life style.  The crosses of persecutions will find us without waving ourselves as distracting flags.  Love shows itself more purely if like the naturalness of nature, all matter and modes created by God live as His  reflection. What do we reflect today?

Monday, May 16, 2011

How Slippery the Stairway...

Read the Psalms this morning after Mass.  From Psalm 73 came an explanation to the past nearly four months of reaction to various factors, with no excuse other than the humility of learning that the stairway to heaven is slippery at times, and those times teach us humility and gratitude for God's mercy.

"And so when my heart grew embittered
and when I was cut to the quick,
I was stupid and did not understand,
no better than a beast in Your sight.

"Yet I was always in Your presence;
You were holding me by my right hand.
You will guide me by your counsel
and so You will lead me to glory.

"What else have I in heaven but You?
Apart from You I want nothing on earth.
My body and my heart faint for joy;
God is my possession for ever."

It is an amazing realization to learn that God does not desire works that seem so good and helpful, but rather He chooses as He wills for us, with His perfect reasons.  Yesterday a visitor to Agnus Dei asked if nothing was going to continue making fresh fruit salads for the funeral dinners?  Consider: the muffin making was an ordeal and absurd hassle, and nothing was disallowed all else, bit by bit, one way or another. 

No, nothing is not going to make the fruit salads.  There are many who bring in various items of food, including fruit salads.  Nothing has learned that God wills other avenues for helping the poor and grieving: prayer, counseling, writing note of consolation and encouragement, monetary donations. 

Tending Baby Jesus is quite a full life, requiring much physical exertion for one who suffers high degrees of physical pain.  Plus, there is the harp not being practiced enough, and to write about living in and with Baby Jesus in the present moment....The gardens need much manual labor from one who is exhausted more often than not.  And what about spiritual reading?  Baby Jesus likes to be read to!

Consider, also, St. Hesychios the Priest's words on watchfulness and holiness.

"Just as the angels do not concern themselves with property and money, so those who have purified the soul's vision and who have attained the state of holiness are not troubled by the evil ploys of the demons.  

"And just as the richness that comes from moving closer to God is evident in the angels, so love and intense longing for God is evident in those who have become angelic and gaze upwards towards the divine.  

"Moreover, because the taste of the divine and the ecstasy* of desire make their longing ever more intense and insatiable as they ascend, they do not stop until they reach the Seraphim; nor do they rest from their watchfulness of intellect and the intense longing of their aspiration until they have become angels in Christ Jesus our Lord."

[From The Philokalia: The Complete Text, Volume One, compiled by St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain and St. Makarios of Corinth, "On Watchfulness and Holiness" by St. Hesychios the Priest, p. 198.]

* ecstasy - a going out from oneself and from all created things towards God, under the influence of eros or intense longing.  A man does not attain ecstasy by his own efforts, but is drawn out of himself by the power of God's love.  Ecstasy implies a passing beyond all the conceptual thinking of the discursive reason.  It may sometimes be marked by a state of trance, or by a loss of normal consciousness; but such psycho-physical accompaniments are in no way essential.  Occasionally the term ekstasis is used in a bad sense, to mean infatuation, loss of self-control, or madness [Ibid., p. 360].

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Remaining in Christ's Love Teaches Us

Since January 18 when the holy spiritual director enthusiastically realized and stated that nothing ought to be utilized within the Church and suggested teaching at the Cathedral, nothing seemed to have lost the foothold on the Stairway to Heaven, seemed to have dropped out of Christ's Heart, did not at all seem to be remaining in His love.

Prayed fervently as directed:  Jesus, I am willing, ready and able to do whatever God wants of me for His Church, but please show me.  Yet amidst the prayers and weeks, four months passed with such inner feelings of resentment, anger and at times even a kind of rage!  Most of these feelings were directed at Catholics and immediately would be countered with my begging for forgiveness for the feelings and thoughts, as well as praying for those who seemed intent on persecuting and stifling.  May we consider it as an inner stoning?

Daily Mass and weekly, sometimes twice-weekly, confessions seemed only to alleviate the vile surges from within, responding to various reminders of exclusion.  One by one, attempts to "do" in formal or organizational venues within the Church, were blocked or plucked or posed absurd hassles.  Finally, the last seeming hope of a years-long desire that could have been easily realized, met with unexpected and bizarre obstacles, each one representing a door not just closing but being bolted shut for good.

There is peace in the finality and closure of bolted doors.  A bolted door leaves no room for thinking one can unbolt it, for the bolt is on the other side and in the control of others who have a place beyond that door.  It is their place, their room, their world in which they are at home and at work.  So?

Immediately peace returned, as well as the enthusiasm and joy, the buoyancy of the soul prior to January 18--but even more so!  The soul had spent four months knocking, pushing, even mentally kicking at doors (and people) that seemed might open, but not to be.  When they finally were closed and bolted, the soul, rather than despairing, was so weary of the pressure of push and preemption, that supreme liberty ensued!  It was so BLESSED to KNOW that God DID NOT WANT to utilize nothing WITHIN the Church.  Not in the formalized or organized ways, not through ancillary Church institutions nor within diocese employ or structured involvement.

Within a couple hours of the final slam-lock, learned of a way to enact the innate desire, skill, plus previous training, to help people outside the Church:  to take this churched, Catholic soul, out into the world to help and counsel souls without going out into the world at all! No more degrees needed, no more courses taken, but much discipline, listening, prayer, worship, praising, and remaining in His love to be lived.

The first client God brought came in a phone call from someone who'd been through a life-altering surgery.  She was discouraged and frustrated in learning to walk again.  She wept that she would not be able to return to work.

After discussion of some practical and spiritual encouragements and idea generation, the words of St. Hesychios the Priest came to mind.   

Human life extends cyclically through years, months, weeks, days and nights, hours and minutes.  Through these periods we should extend our ascetic labors--our watchfulness, our prayer, our sweetness of heart, our diligent stillness--until our departure from this life.

We must remain in His Love even when it seems we are far from His Love.  He is always loving us, especially when we are non-utilizable in ways we or others think we could be of use, or when we feel the most frustration in our thoughts and seem the most unlovable.

Yes, we must remain in His Love even when it seems we are far from His Love.  He is always loving us, especially when we are non-utilizable in ways we or others think we could be of use, or when we feel the most frustration in our thoughts and seem the most unlovable.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tending Baby Jesus

A few days ago nothing was reminded of the care required for an infant.  The Duchess Olivia of Baby Jesus visited nothing, carried by Mother Princess "Ruth" of Christ's Royal Navy Base.  

Nothing yapped for awhile about the latest woes, trials, and tribulations emanating from the temporal Catholic world, and nothing's inadequate amazement at the process.  Then suddenly the immediacy of opportune lesson focused on Duchess Olivia.  Her mother and nothing discussed what Baby Jesus' mother focused upon from the Annunciation through Birth of Jesus and beyond, into eternity, yesterday, today, and forever.

Baby Jesus.  Child Jesus.  Adolescent and Teen Jesus. Young Adult Jesus. Working Man Jesus.  Teacher Jesus.  Ridiculed Jesus.  Holy Man Jesus.  God Man Jesus.  Proclaimed Jesus.  Leader Jesus.  Healer Jesus.  Hunted Jesus.  Followed Jesus.  Heralded Jesus.  Servant Jesus.  Messiah Jesus.  Crucified Jesus.  Resurrected Jesus.  Ascended Jesus.  Beloved Jesus.  Son of God Jesus. Second Person of the Trinity Jesus.  Sacred Heart Jesus.  Christ the King Jesus.  Divine Mercy Jesus.  Eternal Jesus.  My Lord Jesus.

Last night while plugging along with Pope Benedict XVI's Jesus of Nazareth Part II, nothing had a thought.  What if this same book had been written by a man relatively unknown to the world, to theologians or intellects, or to Catholics?  Would the spiritual director have given it as required reading?  Would nothing be reading it at all at this point?

Probably not.  So the reading sped up a bit, taking in the previous-aware concepts and realities of Jesus' crucifixion (chapter being read), reconnoitering the Scriptures cited to substantiate the historical and theological facts and truths.  Nothing became aware that the writing, outstanding in style and brilliance of intellect, brought memories of a night nearly 16 years ago, of an experience.

It was the summer of nothing's private instruction in preparation for an August 22 Confirmation in the Catholic Church.  It was the summer of an uncle's diagnosis with lung cancer and first serious hospitalization.  His sisters, including nothing's mother, flew in and gathered around their brother's hospital bedside in the afternoon, returned to spend the night at nothing's home, with plans to return to their brother's hospital bedside in the morning.

Somehow, during the night, nothing was taken to the uncle's hospital room and stood by his bed, consoling him.  Also nothing saw that the uncle, a judge in a mid-size town for years, had been restrained in his bed due to trying to remove the ventilator and to get out of bed.  Then, amazingly upon being returned to bed (or however these other-worldly visitations occur), awoke with the words thrice spoken loudly from without to within and within to without:  Think with your heart!  Think with your HEART!  THINK WITH YOUR HEART!

Return to last night and reading the Pope's latest book on Jesus, Part II.  These past events and words replay in the mind--fresh, reinvigorated, all the more emphasized.  

Yes, that is it.  Nothing resonates with (or writings far more resonate with nothing) writings which stimulate the heart--that are written with or from the heart, that think with the heart of both writer and reader.  Nothing appreciates the thought with the head writings and has learned from these, but the soul vibrates and is vivified all the more now with writings written of and from loving passion about the Passion, or of those who are within the Passion.  Somehow--somehow words that bubble up from the heart blood, the heart brain, seem to be most helpful to nothing now.

It all has to do with Christ's blood, with listening to His blood, flowing with and in His blood, being pumped each moment of His present moments, becoming one with His present moments.  

Nothing will finish the assigned reading.  The book is outstanding, of course, and stimulates the mind.  But nothing has already begun listening to His blood in the writings by and about Elisabeth of Schonau and William of St. Thierry's Exposition of the Song of Songs.  The Pope has responsibility to didactically illuminate the historical and theological truths.  He is the Vicar of Christ!  Nothing appreciates this fact but also must understand all the more how to live listening to His blood and thinking with the heart.  It has to do with nothing now tending and loving Baby Jesus. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Remaining in His Love, Some More

Very late spring here.  Very slow in being motivated to get out, take photos, work in gardens.  Very much frustration and anger being weeded.  Very deconditioned physically, and spiritually wearily waiting for answers to a prayer that perhaps God has already answered...but perhaps not convincingly for the spiritual director.  Or, perhaps the mind and heart needed to confront once again the temptations to do in the temporal more, and now to re-discover doors close on those matters.

Sweet Duchess Olivia and Princess "Ruth" of Christ's Royal Navy visited the hermitage yesterday.  Rather than being quiet and listening, so much poured out to the dear visitors.  Eventually, the topic turned to Baby Jesus, and observing the lovely young mother with her beautiful infant helped the focus all the more to what could be simply effected here.  Tend the gardens, clean the hermitage, cook the meals, play the harp, keep physically fit to care-take the Infant Christ, pray, and read about Jesus and followers down through the centuries.  Above all, consider Baby Jesus in all His aspects, human needs, Divine Persons, teachings, earthly life, death, and resurrected life. 

So what is so difficult about this short list?

The difficulty resides within.  There is something within that resents and feels anger and frustration in the very realities that have been prayed to be shown.  Not directly, but through many temporal aspects within the temporal Catholic world being revealed and removed, certainly God is answering prayers by elimination.  It is not God's fault, nor His Church's, nor the people in His Church.  

I prayed and asked for His will to be done, that I was willing, ready, and able to do whatever He wants of me in His Church, but just show me.  So He continues to show me that I am not going to be utilized in His Church.  Not in the temporal Catholic world ways, that is.  Not visibly, other than in being scrutinized and judged by some, and by others to be considered rather suspect, and by yet others to be observed awkwardly but with a rather fearful admiration.

Being on the edge, treated as something different, verging upon outcast, and of no account, causes some human reactions.  One reacts to being shut out by some and skirted about by others.  The ones who draw in tend to be the curious, or perhaps fringe folks who are fascinated somewhat.  These few must be discouraged due to unhealthy aspects.  

All in all, the experience of involvement in the parish has been pared down to Mass and confession.  And the only conscious awareness of these is the few steps walking in and out of the chapel, and the brief time every week or two in confession.  There is rare conversation in the parking lot; but when the rare occurs, it must remain helpful to others yet brief and fairly superficial.

The state at Mass continues, and no priest gives "nothing" communion after Mass, even though the head priest and a couple others know the spiritual director would like them to give the Host after Mass when "nothing" is alert once again.  Perhaps the head priest still thinks the elderly gentleman is doing this after Mass, but he had to be asked to not, for he became far too concerned and touchy and talking, not simply waiting until the one was alert enough to move, speak or receive.  The priests do not want to wait five minutes after Mass.  

The situation is rare, perhaps, or so the spiritual director says, as well as Dr. H.  But it is not unheard of, and yet perhaps that is the pinnacle of the persecution and the bulwark of the outcast status.  And the reason they are not allowing constructive or gift-utilizing involvement in parish or diocese efforts or work.  And, that is why nothing has frustration and anger, perhaps, or at least feels like the outcast, the shunned, the disenfranchised.  It seems as well that peoples' judgments be realized however they wish.  What matter to me?  

It is all over, all of that, and the temporal Catholic world all the more other people's world.  It is not my world, and God could have changed any of the circumstances along the way.  Yet this morning I prayed prior to Mass, reminding Him that He could have the situation change.  But He chose not, and it is restful, deeply restful, and much being worked out at deep, deeper, deepest levels.

He must need to isolate out the soul.  It must surely be as He knows best; and it is quite effective in pruning, even lopping off, that which He does not desire of the one being pruned.

But the anger and frustration remain, and it all seems unfair somehow, or silly, or unnecessary.  Yes, unnecessary.  But yet, what would I know of these matters?  I have not yet read in books that the souls with strange situations experienced frustration, anger, resentment.  It seems they reportedly handled it all very peacefully, forgivingly, placidly, and filled with saintly love.

Remaining in His love has not at all exhibited the same "high" as four months ago and before.  Yet, His love remains, whether or not it is "felt" or "seen" in effects or affect.  One knows His love remains because His love remains.  That is fact, reality and truth.  The anger, frustration and resentment are not His, yet His love remains, and one remains in His love some more, not less, some how.