Archive | November 2015

“The Night” – Day 2 with John of The Cross

“On a dark night, aroused in love with yearnings— oh, happy chance!—I went out without being observed, since all in my house were asleep.”

There are three reasons the soul’s journey to union with God are called the “night”:

  1. The soul has to detach itself from it’s senses because what it “senses” it wants. I see what I want, I see what I think I need, I hear what I want, I feel what I want. Not that the senses are bad or evil – God gave us bodies, encasements for our soul not to be separated from them. We can’t let our senses control us instead of us controlling them. Money is not bad, but what you do with it/for it can be, sex is not bad, but “lust in our hearts” is bad and can set us on the wrong path
  2. Walking in faith – once we control our senses and detach from them, we need to walk in faith toward God even if we don’t understand where we are going (I can attest to this for sure!)
  3. The end point or goal – union with God

“God infuses the soul into the body, the soul is like a smooth, blank board on which nothing is painted. except for the things that it experiences through the senses, nothing is communicated to it from any other source. As long as it is in the body, it is like one in a dark prison who knows nothing except what he can see through the prison’s windows. so the senses are the prison windows of the soul.” Ascent of Mount Carmel referenced above p.15.

Our desires and passions become obstacles to union with God because where are attention is our heart is, they become our gods.

Pond

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Advent Retreat with John of the Cross

I want to read and try to begin the descent into my “dark night of the soul” and I have decided to make an Advent retreat into Ascent of Mount Carmel. I am not sure where this will lead, I can only hope I am graced with a closer relationship with God.

I am reading the following version for my retreat-

John of the Cross with Foreword by Claudia Mair Burney CONTEMPORARY ENGLISH VERSION BY HENRY L. CARRIGAN, JR.® Paraclete Press Brewster, Massachusetts

Anyone interested in reading along can find the online version at:

site.paracletepress.com/samples/exc-ascent-essential1-20.pdf

Introduction page XIX, Ascent of Mount Carmel is a spiritual treatise that follows the soul on its journey toward perfection, as it purifies itself and passes through the various parts of the dark night of the soul on its way to union with the divine. John devotes attention to the early stages of the mystical life, realizing that during these stages the soul has its most difficulty throwing off the worldly attachments that hinder its progress to union. In an orderly and systematic fashion, John provides a road map to the soul’s journey to the divine.

 

CHAPTER 1 The first stanza is introduced.

“On a dark night, aroused in love with yearnings— oh, happy chance!—I went out without being observed, since all in my house were asleep.”

God calls and if we hear and listen we are called into contemplation. When our “senses” are asleep, or perhaps our focus is inward. We can only hope with God’s grace we can remain attentive and begin this journey we are being called to.

path

 

How Do I know?

No one asks me really. Pretty much everyone thinks of me as a religious person, maybe even spiritual person, but they seem unaware of why. They don’t seem to feel the urgency I feel to complete this journey or to at least make sure that the path I am on is indeed the correct one. I can’t say that I am on a journey to “save” myself – maybe I should be, but that doesn’t seem to be the motivation. I can say it is a feeling, a longing I have. I can say it is a feeling that never leaves me even in the busy-ness of life because once there is a pause in the busy-ness I notice it again, it is always right there, calling me.

I thought the other day that my problem with the Church is I don’t trust her. I know people and I don’t trust them. It is very easy to look at the Church’s history and her present and see the signs of human failings. And then I hear this:

18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.

And it gives me solace that in the end the “gates of hell will not prevail”, but how to we be sure right now? So many seeds of doubt out there, so much that doesn’t seem right. So where do I put my faith? To whom do I go?

So again I thought, but I don’t trust the Church, that is my problem…and a small voice immediately came to me that said

Do you trust me?

and I do, so I have to trust that the yearning I feel is not of my doing, that I am being called into communion, into relationship, as we all are. It is whether we take time to hear the call and whether we respond.

I pray we all hear and listen.

Happy Thanksgiving. I am thankful for all of my blessings, my family and all that I have. I pray that everyone is safe and those out to hurt anyone meet Jesus this day and their hearts are changed and softened and they realize violence is not the way.

 

A Time of Great Revealing

So it seems it is very easy right now to blame Islam for what is going on in the world and to take sides as they are in the “my God is better than your God” rhetoric. I too was drawn to exposing the false pretense of Islam so I could feel more justified in my reaction, feel more virtuous as a person and more confident that my choice of Catholicism is indeed the better choice. The title of my post, a time of great revealing, had that thought in mind, that I would blog about the evils of others and justify my choices so I could feel warm and happy. I turned to the Church resources to find ammunition for my post and much to my surprise I found this:

Second Vatican Council, Nostra Aetate 3, October 28, 1965

“The Church has also a high regard for the Muslims. They worship God, who is one, living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth (Cf. St. Gregory VII, Letter III, 21 to Anazir [Al-Nasir], King of Mauretania PL, 148.451A.), who has spoken to men. They strive to submit themselves without reserve to the hidden decrees of God, just as Abraham submitted himself to God’s plan, to whose faith Muslims eagerly link their own. Although not acknowledging him as God, they venerate Jesus as a prophet, his Virgin Mother they also honor, and even at times devoutly invoke. Further, they await the day of judgment and the reward of God following the resurrection of the dead. For this reason they highly esteem an upright life and worship God, especially by way of prayer, alms-deeds and fasting.

“Over the centuries many quarrels and dissensions have arisen between Christians and Muslims. The sacred Council now pleads with all to forget the past, and urges that a sincere effort be made to achieve mutual understanding; for the benefit of all men, let them together preserve and promote peace, liberty, social justice and moral values.”

And I realized perhaps there is more going on, that the radical muslims are indeed crying out, but perhaps not in the name of religion, but in the name of fear and lack and overwhelming desire to feel they have a purpose. Granted, they have been hijacked by evil I believe, as their acts have given into a perverse desire for power and nothing more.

I was also deeply disappointed in the Dalai Lama this week, when he said to stop praying for Paris, that we need “action” not prayers. I felt a profound sadness that  he has revealed his true self. If not prayer what? I would ask him. I would think FIRST prayer because that will lead to the correct action.

Times are difficult, but we have a light on our path.

7-23-14sky

 

 

What I am not…

It has certainly been awhile…I have indeed been off in the desert and I wish I could say that I faired even remotely as well as Jesus during his time of His temptation. Is there value in my searching I wonder again and agains. I can finally admit that I have been in the desert tempted most certainly by the devil, but I have failed. I didn’t resist, I was drawn in so easily by the idea of a “new” more enlightened spirituality, a way to break away from the confines of an outdated Church. The devil knows so well my weakness and sweet talks in my ear that he can show me something better. He can show me what Jesus REALLY taught when he walked  the earth…and I am hooked.

I listen, I screen – I am a bit better at discernment than I used to be, but then  the devil ups his game to, so I get sucked in. If I go back to my original question however, is there any benefit to my wandering, why does God allow it, I guess I have to say yes. God gave us free will even though we really can’t handle it. My wandering has given me the opportunity to explore and to go until I hit those dead ends, the places the story ends. So I have learned in my spiritual travels what I am not;

I am not a Protestant of any denomination, a Jew, a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Sufi and now I add, a Gnostic. The promise of understanding the early Church before it became so heavily doctrinal, when people could and did have spiritual experiences that were not in line with Church teachings because the “Church was wrong” became like a shiny object to pursue and grasp at. But in the end it too is a dead end.

Perhaps now I am a little more awed at her wonder, her wisdom, perhaps I can settle in this time more content. I can only hope that when temptation comes again, I have the wisdom to pray for the strength to resist.

St M