July 18, 2006

Above All

Last night at school, the conversation before class was about Religious Life. We were talking about the possibility of people entering different communities. Such as active life verses a contemplative life. And a few voiced their opinion about the cloistered life and how they thought it was unfair that they could no longer see their families. Some speculated to the point that they felt this was cultish. Just like the Catholic Church warns about such cults that remove a person from their family. I didn't know what to say, or how to answer. The man I used to see said the same thing about the Catholic faith and the Religious Life. He too thought it was a cult. Not a nice one by his view. But defend it I did. He didn't like the fact that I loved someone other than him. Oh well. I'm happy for it though. Why is it non Catholics look at the Religious Life such as a cloister, a cult. Don't they realize that these people devote themselves to prayer. But all Religious are called to do the same thing, prayer. I pray and talk to God all day, I keep quiet to let him speak in his way, and I live on the outside doing what God asks of me. I see people, talk with them, I offer what I can do for others through whatever means I have, whether it be a kind word or a helping hand, and if I had the other I would give that too. But then again, I do give what I do not have. If someone needs it and I have some with me I offer it. So I can't say I don't give. I used to worry about that, not being able to give. It's funny, but when I was seeing the one that turned my life upside down, he made a comment about my making more money and how it changes people. You know something it didn't change me, I gave more. I didn't realize that. I didn't live by it and I didn't save it either. Does it make a difference in my happiness, no. Why am I writing about it then, well it affects people way too much. It rules people, and people use it for the wrong purposes. But that is my opinion, anyway. There are times though that I often think that I managed my affairs so poorly that it was taken away. But it wasn't that at all. I worked every chance that I could, and even took on an extra job. I did overtime when it was asked and when it wasn't. Such as mandatory. I worked to the point that I gave up being with my family, and going to family functions. When we got together recently, the conversations were about the occasions I was not there. When I fell sick, my life changed, I also found I needed to change how I was working.

God has a way of waking us up to our own sinfulness. Even though I was given a wake up call, I was being spoken too long before. I was listening, but not in the way I should have. It's called life was in the way. I was busy living my life my way. I'm not ashamed to admit where I went wrong, if it would show others that it's not the way to God. No matter how much I have loved God all my life and had many experiences when at Mass, I still underwent a transformation. It was a gradual one. I am deeply thankful for God's love and his pulling me out of the fire. Because I was causing my own destruction with my behavior with someone I did not belong with. If anything sin causes many hurts and freedom from them is so liberating. That any small thing now is huge and a need to purify is automatic. This is wanting to be one with God and not separating myself from him. It is keeping a heart clean for his dwelling place. I never want to go back to sin or causing any hurt to God. He is love beyond love, he gives so much to keep us with him. It is always in the smallest acts that he gives when we look for it. For me sometimes it's finding a four leaf clover, or seeing a deer, when sighting them is scarce. Or seeing a falcon flying overhead. Just so many things to that occur in a day can give us so much of his response to delight us. Sometimes it's the beauty of a song, or the smile and kindness of a stranger.

4 Words of Wisdom:

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Most people fear solitude because they are afraid to encounter their true self and the God Who is only known well through solitude. This is why there are few contemplatives.

The true self is discovered only in the solitude of self and the solitude of God. It was my good friend Thomas Merton who said:

"The real wilderness of the hermit is the wilderness of the human spirit which is at once his and everyone else's. What he seeks in that wilderness is not himself, not human company, and consolation, but God.

Man's loneliness is, in fact, the loneliness of God. This is why it is such a great thing for a man to discover his solitude and learn to live in it. For there he finds that he and God are one: that God is aloneness as he himself is alone. That God wills to be alone in man."

It is a paradox that in giving up what the world considers to be "freedom" and by living in solitude, the monk or religious who embraces the Great Aloneness discovers true freedom and joy. Again, as Merton said:

"Follow my ways and I will lead you
To golden-haired suns,
Logos and music, blameless joys,
Innocent of questions
And beyond answers.
For I, Solitude, am thine own Self:
I, nothingness, am thy All.
I, Silence, am thy Amen."

In the same way that unbelievers accuse believers of "escapism" because they work for a heavenly reward (as if belief in Heaven were a form of living in denial), so too there are those who will accuse the monk, hermit or religious of "running away from the world" because they embrace solitude.

But C.S. Lewis eloquently refuted these arguments when he replied, "Who talks the most about escapism? Jailers."

Think about it.

God love you,

Marie Cecile said...

Thank you for explaining the solitude of contemplatives. If I wasn't living my life in a similar manner I wouldn't understand. You gave me more to reflect upon, to broaden the field of contemplation.

In discovering solitude we discover also, if you cannot live alone with yourself how will you be able to live with others. And if you cannot live with others how will we be able to live with ourselves in solitude. With God we are never alone.

I embrace solitude, for I become ever closer to the Father. Thank you for giving much to think about.

It seems I need to read C. S. Lewis and some Merton.

God Love You

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

I would recommend Merton's book "Thoughts in Solitude" as well as his "Life and Holiness" which was written specifically for the laity.

As for C.S. Lewis, his "Mere Christianity" remains his finest work and I would also recommend his collection of essays published under the title "God in the Dock."

Pax Christi,

Marie Cecile said...

Thank you for the suggested reading material, I'm sure it will be insightful. Take care

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