Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Go Gently

The second week of passing unnoticed commenced with thoughts of a Dylan Thomas poem.  While the line go gently into this dark night passed through the mind, in fact the first and repeated line in the poem is Do not go gently into this good night.  Thomas wrote the poem at his dying father's bedside.  He wanted his father to fight death.

But this death to self--one greater than any prior--despite its moments of resentment, confusion and anger, for the main has been filled with great peace if not gentle passing.  With the one good arm thrown into the air, the heart can say in the frustrating moments to God:  You alone know what it all is.  You alone can make it so that what seems unthinkable that has happened, could all change.

Only one arm thrown up in the air?  The other is still mending from shoulder surgery.  But it is mending, mercifully and gratefully yet very, very slowly.  The surgeon says to be more cognizant of pain level and stop using it when the pain increases; do not let the pain get out of control.  There are some things we ought to notice.

Dreams continue.  One was nightmarish and had to do with the question of if one is ridding and being rid of desire to be noticed, would one write to be read?  Is anonymity in the authorship enough?  One would think not, since assuming there are readers of what one writes, there is a sense or degree of being noticed, at least anticipated.  Another dream was instructive in remaining away from a place of notice.  Even at night, my heart counsels me (Ps. 16).

The Carthusians publish with the simple A Carthusian.  But the writer knows his writings are likely read and read by many. Does this prove the writer has a desire to be noticed?  Only God and the writer would know; and it is most likely that only God would truly know--that Seeker and Knower of hearts.

Yes, a few fingers of people have reacted to what I've shared in emails--good friends--who display their own lurking desires to be noticed.  Yes, it is so, that the only real way to know if one has a desire to be noticed, is to be able to cease going places where one is noticed.  An additional step is to cease doing that which would bring notice, even if the ones noticing do not know the noticed.  Effects of the person can be noticed.  A parent, particularly involved mothers, can feed an imperceived desire to be noticed by living through the note and notice of her children.  Some people justify--rationalize--their activities as using their gifts, assuming no one else could do what they are doing and thus taking spots that otherwise other people could participate and fill just as well, better, or less well.  It is mostly a need for notice that goes unrecognized unless even for a day, the positions are relinquished.

For a couple hours, a week ago, thoughts turned to how it would be if those who suggested the desire to be noticed would actually stop their own desire to be noticed.  Well, what indeed would that be, and could they even see to do it?  But of course, it is not their crucifixion, is it?  No, it is mine.  It is my call to uproot and expose any lurking taproot and ancillary roots desiring to be noticed.  Not everyone has the full opportunity to do this, to have already had much pulled up and tossed away.

The spot on the handicap pew is already replaced, no doubt, by some person either greatly overweight--unable to kneel or stand at "appropriate" times--or handicapped by some other means.

It is true that sooner than later, we shall all pass unnoticed, never more to be noticed on the face of this earth.  The effort continues here, silently, softly, sensibly, to go gently into this dark night.  As long as there is not the resentment or doubt, the death is filled with trust and faith and peace.

His Real Presence took me to Mass the other night in the quiet darkness of anonymity in some other realm more real than this reality.  There I received His Real Presence in the Sacrament of Eucharist and yet the ecstasy within the ecstasy of the real dream dimension.  God bless His Real Presence in all souls!  Go gently into this dark night.  His Real Presence in the present moment silently beckons.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

To Go Unnoticed

Recently, in a confession regarding meekness (or lack therein), the subject of the "desire to be noticed" surfaced.  Surely, yes, it was an inspiration from God in the confessor, and one to be pondered and prayed. Whether or not there is a desire to be noticed in any of us, we could hardly rightly discern.  It is one of those subtle, even subconscious, vices (human enough, it was said) that we can only assume to be there, within us, to some degree even if in imagining some situation in which we might be noticed.

The only admission to make, for any person, is yes, there is a desire to be noticed.  How could anyone rightly say no, especially when there is no way of really knowing until one does whatever necessary to halt the desire?  And what is the only sure way to halt a desire to be noticed--or at least to prove one way or another if it is there or not?

The antidote to desire to be noticed is to simply not be noticed.

Of course, we must explain with some discussion.  The greatest circumstance for being noticed is by those who recognize us from our presence physically among them, with some aspect of knowing--such as a name, a face, a position, activity, or more.  Yet, it is among our most intimate family members (with exception of children who vie for attention among siblings and parents) and friends of longest duration that the desire to be noticed seems immune.  We just are as we are with these...barring those mentally ill who crave attention and notice even within the inner circle.

Another immunity from being noticed is that of large, public places in which people are intent upon a goal other than noticing strangers. A grocery store, mall, airport, walkway, or driving a car amidst traffic are places and situations in which there is not repetition of recognition and/or the purpose for being there is so goal-oriented (looking for a product on store shelf).  Thus one can go veritably unnoticed in such situations and places; if noticed, the circumstance is beyond ones control--unless the desire to be noticed creates an effect, to note.

Wearing garb that stands out--colors and fashion so very unique, individual, or ritualistic as to be eye-catching and identifiable--cannot qualify in the passing unnoticed test.  Being exceptional in negative ways--of crime or acting out against the norms in ways noticeable--is sure to be noticed.
Excesses in eating, too much or too little, bring notice in body size.  The same occurs in speech: too much, too loud, too little, too soft.  So it goes in any number of situations in which we could be noticed beyond simply being repetitively recognized.

Again, some situations of being noticed may not be within our control.  These are few, however, once a person determines decisively to snuff any suspect desire to be noticed by simple removal of all that causes notice, including locations in which one is recognized--especially if that notice is deemed a problem or flaw.  Yet, very few actually have the opportunity to limit or eradicate or even test the desire to be noticed.  But most if not everyone can test it at least for a brief experiment.

A hermit has the luxury of time and opportunity.  Being hidden from the eyes of men is one basic premise of the eremitic life.  This is a tremendous grace--to be able to test out, to practice, to live one's life increasingly unnoticed.  Unless one must work in a set place, repetitively so in which others will recognize and know over time, the hermit otherwise is quite free to begin the test and to live it henceforth.  There really are few places one must frequent, frequently.  Other than worship, the chance of repeated recognition or knowing is amazingly limited in the daily necessities.

In worship, one can be unnoticed for the most part, by changing location, and within location by change of seating area, or worship times, and frequency.  If by some odd chance something befalls to create notice beyond one's control, then there may be removal, beyond one's control.  If one is yet charged to delete any lurking desire to be noticed and all other means to remain unnoticed have been utilized (appearance and behavior), then one can eliminate other possible situations of recognition, of being noticed.  It may seem extreme, but rooting out desire to be noticed is rather an extreme process.

What are signs of proof, after one has done all to pass unnoticed and God has removed even by atypical means the possibility of being noticed, that one does not desire to be noticed? It seems that one sign is that willingness of the person to be unnoticed, to accept the circumstances of removal.  Another indication could be that of heightened focus in prayer, spiritual reading, absorption in His
Real Presence in the Word and all Sacraments, thanksgiving, as well as in daily, temporal tasks.  A true spirit of holy indifference and spiritual detachment from self occurs; and with it comes a sense of freedom in the Trinity that brings a peace to the soul.

Another proof is that one thoroughly loves not being noticed and realizes it even loathed notice.

Others may discourage such action, even if they were the ones to suggest there is a desire to be noticed.  Suddenly they may interject that one does not really need to rid out the desire by taking actual action, embracing the only sure antidote to such a desire by determining to simply, profoundly, decisively avoid being noticed.  Yes, it takes some courage and forethought, much self-examination and figuring out the lay of the land and ones own habits both outer and inner, in time and space.  But it is a worthwhile effort--not just to imagine what it would be like, but to actually effect the reality of not being noticed.  It is possible if but even for a day or week, or in small eclipses of notice, bit by bit.

Having the opportunity to stop being noticed brings with it a freedom not experienced in the temporal realm, not even in the visible church.  The freedom brings the soul to the immolation of self required for mystical union, even if for short embraces now and then with the Divine.

Note:  To cease writing and sharing writing is one point of being noticed, even if the writer is anonymous.  The sharing of thoughts if read by others repetitively, or the same readers to a point of recognizing the sequence and style of prose, could be a type of notice.  Does the subconscious or conscious have a desire that the writings are noticed?  What is the test--to cease writing? Or, cease comment availability and thus not know if the writing is being read; be as in a supermarket venue in which if noticed, it is beyond one's control? Or, if negative comments, do they assist in the self-annihilation, the death to any lurking desire to be noticed?  There may be other aspects of being noticed that one does not notice in the realm of note but to pray for fool-proofs.

Friday, November 18, 2011

His Real Presence in the Present Moment

Am praying the way through pain, per usual; this time it is the shoulder that is not healing well or properly, from rotator cuff surgery two months ago.  But there is another pain, and that is of being directed that I am not to go to Mass.

It is all of the present moment, and the spiritual director outstanding, a gift from His Real Presence, the Holy Trinity, to my soul.  This one is the peak of what any soul could desire and came per his own volition, desiring, as he said, to be the "earthly guardian" of my soul.  For anyone reading, God does provide sooner or later, who and what we need according to His Knowing.

There has been anger at times, my having to wait across the street in a parking lot for a friend after Mass, who brings His Real Presence in the Eucharist to me to receive, sometimes under the cover of darkness.  Last Saturday evening while waiting, the amazing question of how God would allow this rather bizarre situation to continue--as I stood watching the inner-lit Cathedral and hundreds of people within.  And there was I, on the outside, not allowed to be at Mass, not having done anything other than experienced for over three years a mystical state that came unbidden, each and every Mass.

Yes, it is amazing, how His Real Presence can become jealous of our love being out of balance, perhaps--too much love for the temporal reflections of His Real Presence, of His Church, as it were.  How could I have ever realized the imbalance other than His removing me? As a daughter remarked (and we did laugh in that same amazement of awe in how God allows what humans would consider the unthinkable) that this surely is the first time this prelate had to direct someone to not go to Mass.

There is much more to this situation, however.  It is that of learning to venerate and love His Real Presence in Itself--or Himself--or however His Real Presence, the Trinity, is given in proper pronoun.  The practice of training the soul, the mind, the thoughts, the words and images and full awareness to living in His Real Presence in the present moments, is profoundly challenging.

So much emphasis and devotion came previously from this soul for the Eucharist, to now as it sees, was the diminution in comparison, of His Real Presence in all the Sacraments, very much so His Living Word that comes from the very Mouth of God.  To even "see" the Trinity--His Real Presence--when in thought and adoration before the Tabernacle or when was allowed to be in Mass and prior to the mystical state occurring, takes a training of perspective and admittance of a truth that lay hidden from this soul's conscious recognition.

Now it is to sign notes and emails to family and friends:  God bless His Real Presence in you.  At the conclusion of receiving His Real Presence in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, to speak to the confessor, my director:  God bless His Real Presence in you!  To kiss his ring and speak the words, to receive His Real Presence in the Eucharist which he brings after confession, and to know with the newness of some great revelation to this soul, finally, now in these present moments, that this is His Real Presence now, the Holy Trinity, as they are One, as the Second Person describes in various descriptions in the Gospel of John chapters 13-17.

The practice of remaining in His Real Presence's Love, as remaining in His Real Presence which is the Three Persons of the Trinity, continues daily and nightly.  No longer must there be fragmentation of Jesus, separating Him out and separating out His Real Presence in one Sacrament, but to know and recognize always, now, His Real Presence in fullness and unity, as One is not without the Other of the Three Persons, the Holy Trinity, in all the Sacraments--not any intended to be less beloved than any others, and to present one's soul always, now and forever, in greatest reverence and love to each Sacrament and to each soul filled with His Real Presence.

Consider a spouse approaching the other spouse with the reverence with which one approaches His Real Presence in the Eucharist.  Consider a soul approaching in person or thought, His Real Presence--the Trinity--in any of the Sacraments, listening to and pondering His Living Word, with the same devotion, respect, attention and love with which one approaches reception of His Real Presence in the Eucharist.

The world of souls in the Church would then be elevating the love and devotion and recognition of the Trinity, His Real Presence interlocking One with the One with the One.  The love and devotion to His Real Presence in the Eucharist would not be diminished but also heightened; and most noticeably the love and devotion of His Real Presence would be elevated in kind, in the Sacraments of the Word, Penance, Healing, Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage and Holy Orders, as lived in the totality of Mass.

Consider then, learning to live in His Real Presence in the present moment.  The title of the blog will not change, at least not for now. But the accuracy would be:  His Real Presence: the Trinity--in the Present Moment.

Being removed from attending Mass, under obedience to my spiritual director, has taught me much, as God would have it!  For one thing, His Real Presence is coming to the level of understanding that allows a participative love and devotion without fragmenting or diminishing any Person of the Trinity or Sacraments or souls but rather of elevating all as whole and fully Divine.

One morning, upon awakening, the soul was told:  You are in the Mass and the Mass is in you.  This consolation was repeated several times, and it is true enough, and will be when all mortals at temporal death will not be going to our parishes for Mass and we see, if not now or beforehand, that in His Real Presence is in the Holy Trinity, mystically intertwined as the Vine to the branches and the branches to the Vine.  We will live His Real Presence in the present moment for all eternity, the interlocking of what in our temporal lives was the temporal and mystical melding in the Mass as becoming the interlocking in our mystical lives, an eternal Mass in which His Real Presence is present in each moment in souls.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Great Things for God

Many in the Catholic world know about St. Therese of Lisieux's "Little Way of Love."  She was the baby of the family, a girl of 15 entering the Carmelites, with elder sisters as her "mothers" since their mother died quite young.  Also known as "the Little Flower", Therese's autobiography The Story of a Soul inspired and caught the imaginations of thousands after her death at age 24 in 1897.  How fascinating to consider that one could please God by doing little things.

Somehow, over the ensuing century, in our times, it seems that the idea of doing little, or even very little, has taken root in people...not having to do much at all regarding spiritual matters, or pleasing God.  The idea of being known, famous, and great is the rage through insta-fame via internet videos, dressing and acting in ways to garner attention, and doing the illegal for attention. People want to make it BIG in this day and age--even Christians trying to break into the book market, Christian radio and television talk programs.

When Pope John Paul II was yet alive, people declared him "JPII the Great."  How many have been inspired and wanted to follow suit in some Mother Teresa-type, documentary quality outreach--start and hope for a big, great, well-known project, even their own religious order or movement?  So, is the Little Flower's little way little?  Look how big and great it became. 

As a child, I recall sitting in the back of a high school auditorium watching a play performed by my mother's high school drama class.  I was young enough not to be left home alone at night.  During the performance, at a certain point, for whatever reason, I thought about God.  I sensed Him; and I promised deep in my soul that I would do great things for God some day.  I really, really meant it.

The promise and thoughts of it never left, although over the years my life was nipped and tucked whenever I'd begin to rise in the world, even the world of the temporal church--first Protestant and then Catholic.  A couple weeks ago the intensity of the promise to do great things for God arose once more.  Another memory surfaced--that of an elder sister who taunted me when I was a teen and again said that I was going to do something great for God.  She challenged, "What are you going to do?  You're just a kid."  I responded, tearfully yet determined, "I don't know what, but I will do it when I am grown up!"

Over the years, it seems there is more curtailing of worldly interactions and activity whenever I renew the promise to do great things for God.  This has been true in the secular or church world. Currently, I am directed that I must not go to Mass.  It has to do with a rare situation in Mass, such that my director has determined it for the best that I not attend due to issues some have had, injury sustained, and a priest's being uncomfortable with it.  Amazing it is, how God truncates in ways unanticipated!

Once more I ponder a childhood promise to do great things for God.  I begin to understand just how great is this promise and how greatly can everyone do great things for God!  The Little Flower never really fooled me with her Little Way.  Maybe it worked well in that time period to motivate people to offer their little thoughts and actions.  But Therese, other than being a little girl (relatively so in personality and age when she died), did great things for God through her suffering, teaching novices, and praying for missionaries.  None of what she did was little at all.

Yet I've noted some adult Little Flower enthusiasts, in child-like voices, say they can only do little things because they are so little, like the Little Flower.  Has the charm of the Little Way, over time, become an excuse and means for relegating ourselves to very little, and thinking it is quite humble to do so, all the while restricting ourselves from all the great things that a soul can do for God?

Of course, many of us comprehend the idea behind the Little Way--to encourage those who feel they cannot do anything at all for God, to at least help them think they can do something very little.   But there is also another way, a way of doing great things for God.  It is a matter of changing perspective and attitude to that of God's greatness. Thus,  I am going to do--have done all my life--great things for God.  I can do great and greater in each present moment of my life:  great writing for God, great reading for God, great cleaning the garage for God, great suffering for God, great praying for God, great living, loving, laughing and crying for God...and great realizing God's greatness, all for God!

How can this be? Does it go against humility?  Is this not outrageous to think or speak or write that one can do great things for God? But what would be at all wrong with doing great things for God?  Why relegate and limit ourselves to doing little or even less for God?

Humility, according to Msgr. Adolphe Tanquerey in his classic on the spiritual life, involves truth and justice.  We must know ourselves as we are and act upon that knowledge.  He writes of St. Thomas who says that in man two things may be considered: what there is of God, and what there is of man.  Of man there is whatever points to defect; but of God, all that makes for salvation and perfection.

Tanquerey adds that justice, then, absolutely demands that we render to God, and to Him alone, all the honor and glory.  Yes, there is some good in us, our good nature and our supernatural privileges.  Humility lets us see this good but that it is contemplating the gifts and graces of God in us, not ourselves that we admire.  God is great and expects great things from us, for He is great who made us and all things.

I recall the Irish Da, a priest of many years, having chastised me. "Why is it that you think you have to do something big?"  Well, what is wrong with doing something big for God if our great God has given us great graces?  Isn't it all right to do great things for God?  What's so terrible about that? 

As I was telling my dear spiritual director about doing great things for God, he--not immediately grasping this--mentioned the Little Flower and humility.  I persevered despite his saying I'm resistant, which is true.  After confession I exclaimed, "This sacrament is a great thing for God!"  Then I mentioned a young mother who understood what I was saying about doing great things for God.  She got it!  She realized changing diapers is a great thing for God--perhaps even greater if a greater mess.

Everything can be a great thing for God because God is great.  The Little Flower did not really do little things; all that she did were actually great things for God.  Yes, when I asked the spiritual director, "Is it not true that St. Therese did great things?" he admitted it is so.  Why think and do little when everything we think and do is great for Him due to His greatness?  In fact, we do anything at all because it is God's greatness that is doing it, for His Real Presence is great in our souls, as God greatly created all souls.  What a great thing for God is a soul who recognizes God's greatness in creating souls!  Thus every soul is a great soul, simply in being greatly created by our great God who is all greatness. 

This is all very great--just thinking of it is a great thing for God.  Remaining in His Love is a great thing for God, and all we do are great things for God once we realize that it is the great God Who in His greatness--the greatness of His Real Presence, the great Trinity that is great Love--is doing it all, gives us all these great graces, to do all these great things for God.  We are filled with His greatness and give back what is given, all great things for God.

Tears, struggles, thoughts, praises, despairs, virtues--no matter how rudimentary in our delivery--all are great things for God.  So perhaps the Little Flower really meant that all the little things she did for God, of course, are actually great things for God.  How else or other can they be when He is so great and it is all from His greatness?  Doing great things for God is possible only in humility for it is humility that dictates the reality that all greatness is God, not us, and even the little is great: for, through and in God.  How joyous to know that God gives us all graces to do great things for Him!

When a soul recognizes its Great Creator, God, all that flows from the Great God through that soul into thought and action is a great thing for God.  Now to put a painful arm and shoulder back into the sling: a great thing to do for God.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Christ in the present moment...the stairway to heaven...the Mass filled with all sacraments, filled with His Real Presence:  His Real Presence fills the soul.

Some of the thoughts have been written in private correspondence to one or two souls.  All thoughts and realities come from, return to, in intimate communion of thought, essence, being: His Real Presence.

His Real Presence Is the Trinity of Three Persons as Oneness of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  To remain in His love is to remain in His Real Presence which is union in His Real Presence Love.

The daily details remain daily details of mortal life lived in temporal settings.  From reading Mauriac's The Woman of the Pharisees one can discover him- or herself in the protagonist: a self-righteous, deceived soul who yet sincerely desires holiness.

It is not the duty of a true nothing to correct others, to make even critical judgment or attempt instruction.  A nothing must let others be.  If one in authority finds one to have a rare, spiritual life...if a professional suggests perhaps one in 50 if that...then there are still 49 who are beyond yet do not criticize, correct or instruct the one and lets that one be.  A nothing is where it is, not able to see beyond even if can see behind and has developed a misconceived duty of correcting and instructing.

Just let others be where they are and understand that is where they are and from there they see not beyond and thus all is accepted, forgiven, understood.  The upsets and strains, the persecutions that result from others not necessarily being able to see where a nothing is, are all released from the grip of being misunderstood and for good reason.  Even a nothing cannot see beyond and often enough not even within, other than to know now to let others be where they are without temptation to correct, instruct, or criticize...even if one sees so clearly and loves so deeply as to desire others to grasp.

For a nothing grasps only what a nothing can grasp, which is to understand that there is less and less to grasp other than His Real Presence.  And one cannot grasp His Real Presence until the fullness, the wholeness of comprehension of His Real Presence filters into the soul in ways that one cannot describe or grasp in any tangible way.

St. John of Avila mentions in one of his sermons on the Holy Ghost, some of this ascent, or the letting go of loving the Second Person to the exclusion of the fullness of His Real Presence which includes very much the Father and the Holy Spirit as well as the Son.  It is fascinating, what John of Avila writes because he expresses a reality that one can only grasp by grace.

Then to comprehend, to understand, to live the reality that union in His Real Presence takes a nothing--each nothing--into circumstances that unfold uniquely and defy what others may find acceptable.  There is a sloughing of that attachment to that which is necessary in the foundation and training of a soul in certain respects, and to respect that foundation, yet to detach from loving that foundation, the reflections all so good and beautiful in truth, more than loving His Real Presence in purity of the unknowable.

It would scandalize some to be specific in the way His Real Presence brings about union in the degrees and levels of union, for all is by progression, step by step--if that metaphor is even a valid expression of the process.  It is all risk--the soul's process into union of His Real Presence.  No one nothing's actual circumstance of the detachment from the temporal foundation can replicate another nothing's; nor can any nothing's subsuming into His Real Presence replicate any other nothings' subsuming in the union with His Real Presence, in the process of the union.

Yet the union itself, the soul being subsumed in His Real Presence, His Real Presence Love, the Trinity, Trinity Love, is wholly, truly one.

The shoulder is not healing properly.  It is Christ's shoulder bearing the pain of the cross.  There is no compensation help, no inquiry of concern from those one would have thought might step forth to bring temporal justice.  Even the spiritual director who wants to ask admits he will not be successful in results.  All this is by design and the will of His Real Presence, His Real Presence in all moments.