Saturday, May 20, 2017

Catholic Hermit: Christ!

Everything seems to bring this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit back to Christ!  He is the first and last, as is said: alpha and omega.  So this morning when I read this excerpt from The Catechism of the Catholic Church, I rejoiced at the assurance and absolute freedom that Jesus Christ gives us when we put our all into His All.

"1977 Christ is the end of the law (cf. Rom 10:4); only he teaches and bestows the justice of God.

As a hermit my Rule of Life is the Gospel rule, and the undergirding platform of living that rule, I consider to be the Nine S'.  These are aspects of how or in what disposition I live the daily rule, the Gospel Rule. 

My spiritual father years ago suggested, the day after my profession of vows, the first three s': silence, solitude, and slowness.  The Holy Spirit suggested six more s', and one includes "simplicity".

The love of God in Himself need not be complicated.  The law of God, which Scripture states is love, a law of love, can be simple, as I am finding out over the years.  God's law simply is, and His law supersedes other laws.  And as Christ is one with the Trinity--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit--as The Catechism so succinctly states the reality: Christ is the end of the law.

This is quite simple and also quite true.  Why complicate our purpose in life, our mission that God has given each of us in our various ways and means?  The simplicity He gives our individual lives as well as in our lives being part of the Body of Christ?  Why complicate our lives within the Body of Christ?  To love, to love to learn to love--to love God in Himself and love others as God loves--love is God's law.  

Christ instructs us to remain in His love.  Christ makes clear in His Living Word what is the greatest commandment, and that of God's law of love.  And again, only Jesus teaches and bestows the justice of God.

So I was struck yet again when a dear hermit wrote and mentioned he might be relocating to a different diocese because the diocese bishop designated him as an Independent Hermit rather than "bestowing" Canon Law 603. 

[Yet another example of designations and labels for hermits being creatively invented by individuals, this time a bishop making up "Independent Hermit"  That's a new one. Heard of another hermit who decided to create the label--"Lay Hermit"! Lord, have mercy on us label-making mortals!  We are silly and presumptuous.  Why complicate a beautifully simple vocation with making up additional labels and designations?  But, enough on all that.  I'm sure Jesus knows who we are and calls us as He wills and what He wills, if anything other than "child."]

Returning to the thoughts of simplicity of love and simple love of Christ.  I consider once again that Christ is the end of the law.  Why complicate matters?  Why seek after others to bestow what we might want to think is our due, or a type of justice in the context of hermit life?  Seek Christ to bestow whatever upon us.  Christ is our all.  He is the end of the law.  

This morning my feet were screaming in pain.  Yet I put on these copper-infused compression foot bands that do seem to help, got dressed, painted some window trim, installed some diminutive shoe molding in the garret room up in the attic gable, and then went outside to begin to weed.

While weeding, thoughts disappeared for the most part, as some manual labor seems to lift me out of my "self".  Only at one point did a thought drift into the conscious mind, and it was connected to the rich and deep contentment that the Lord has bestowed upon me in the recent months.  There is simply so much love flowing, and an insightful consideration of eternity is being lived in a way difficult to describe. 

Christ is always in the present moment, and by His grace, I am with him in this and every moment.

So into the conscious realm came the little message, that what was good and holy and spiritually efficacious and simple for hermits such as St. Antony of the Desert, St. Paul the Hermit, and all other hermits throughout the centuries and up until toward the end of the 20th century--all that is good enough for the likes of me.

In fact, it is stupendous!  It is propitious (and this word just now popped in, and I looked it up, and it is perfect for context!) and it is ordained and gifted by Jesus Who Is the end of the law.

Now, as for wherever we hermits may wander or if we remain in one spot, the Lord will unfold our lives and lead us as simply as He wandered the earth--depending upon mission and circumstance and sometimes in response to current events that threatened the perfection of purpose and mission.

It can be as simple as finances, health, or circumstances that require a shift from where we are to where we are to go next, if at all.  If Jesus determines that a law of minds is what He as the end of all law, desires for a person, then by all means, go where Jesus will provide the means to have the law of minds to rule and guide.

But that does seem a bit complicated.  Whatever, while weeding the full joy of freedom that comes when one remains in His love and is stilled within enough to hear His Voice--the full joy of Christ and His law of love filled my heart and soul.

Going to head up the ladder with a bucket of ceiling paint (Simply White!), and will figure out if the body has the energy to paint a first coat on a tongue-and-groove ceiling.  All things are being made as new here, and this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit rejoices in this present moment despite jangling, bodily nerve pain shooting here and there. 

While on earth, we shall know earthly pain.

God bless His Real Presence in us!  Christ is the end of the law; Christ is All!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Catholic Hermit: Remain in Jesus' Love

My spiritual father wrote again.  I so cherish his letters; it takes a great deal of physical effort on his part to write due to health considerations.  The content is always rich and deep, speckled with humor, as well.

He wonders about what it is that priests have done or not done, for he grieves the people leaving the Catholic Church.  He takes this upon himself, being a priest--and a holy one at that.

I have pondered his comments and concerns, and I responded to his letter the other day.

It is not on the priests, although many have not been screened by bishops, perhaps, so well before entering seminary.  The decline in membership and also those attending Mass is also not a new sorrow for the Church, yet it does seem to be increasingly so.

Much has to do with all of us Catholics, whether those of us in the consecrated life of the Church or those who are in married or single vocations.  

The problem seems to be within ourselves, and it has to do with following and immersing ourselves in the laws of mind or the law of God: the law of love.  Love God above all things and love others as God loves.  This is the law of God, Jesus' greatest commandment, and it is verily how Jesus taught and more so, how He lived His earthly life as an example for us all.

Another way to view the dispersion of people to other faiths or no faith at all, has to do perhaps with the externals.  It does seem to me--this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit who is old, worn from suffering but praying while doing a great deal of manual labor and learning a bit to remain in Christ's love--that some are drawn to the Church and exist in the Church due to a need or attraction to externals.

Someone wrote to me recently with an article attached, about a US bishop who was convinced the decline in Catholics is due to not receiving Communion properly.  He had a call for Catholics to receive Communion on the tongue and not in the hand, and in a kneeling position.

The person who sent me the article found this to be just the answer to our Catholic Church's membership woes and why such persons as our Vice President and newest Supreme Court justice left the Catholic Church and attend other--such as evangelical or Episcopalian.  Well, we all known those who have left the Catholic Church over the years, and there are many factors involved in the persons' reasons and choice.

Even trying to figure it out can bring us to dwell upon the externals.  Yet there is a reality occurring, and whether in the time of John of the Cross or of the early Church or of our time period now, it seems to come down to love.  Love in His Love, or not so much love in His Love.

We are in love of Christ or not so much, and we love God in Himself or love a bit more the temporal aspects of the Church, and in some cases love the temporal aspects of the world.  And there are gradations of these aspects of love.  

But love of God in Himself, loving God above all else and loving others as God loves--remaining in His love: this is the command of Jesus, given to us to follow and live, always, in all circumstances.

We do love aspects of the world, but it is through the love of God that this is possible and keeps the love as outflow of God's love, not our notion or expression of love--but a love that flows from God.  We are in God, and He is in us.  Jesus says in so many ways:  Remain in My love.

Remaining in His love includes remaining in His Living Word.  It includes remaining in His Real Presence, also, and this includes receiving His Body and Blood.  Yet there is the grace of God involved and our own choosing, to love God above all things and to love others as God loves.

We must get ourselves out of the way and cease our desire to live in and place our minds and hearts and bodies into other considerations, the laws of minds which tend to be rooted in the externals.

I suppose some personalities are more inclined to the externals, or it can be a habit or was instilled in childhood or such.  To love God above all things and to love others as God loves is not on the same trajectory as loving laws of minds and being caught up in externals.  Remaining in Christ's love alters a soul's life and existence, here and eternally.

Pray to remain in His Love.  Desire to love God above all things and to love others as God loves.  God loves in and through and with us, thus.  Quite the process, but there is a turning point of grace that He provides once we begin to let go of ourselves.

I suppose, of course, that loving God above all things includes the things that we people have deemed as necessary, such as the early Church began deeming certain rituals or trends as necessary.  Laws of minds develop from minds.  The law of God is of God Who Is Love.

"Remain in My Love" Jesus tells us in His Word and life example.  There are mystics and saints who learned obedience through suffering, to love, to love to learn to love in His love.  We do have many examples, thus.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Catholic Hermit Learns from Jesus in John of the Cross

I am enamored all over again.  It does not take much--just re-reading after ten years, the introduction to The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross (Kieran Kavanaugh, translator, editor) can set me off on lessons to learn of love of God.

This section from the introduction, toward the end of it, helps me grasp what I've spent some emails trying to explain to a friend why I prefer not hearing about more of the situations in an unhealthy marriage of control situation that has gone on for years.  And, it helps me to know that even my grousing and putting a personal stop to a medical group's predatory and usurious form of clinical extortion is not worth the thought and emotion.

In the temporal realm, including very much the temporal Catholic church realm as opposed to the mystical or spiritual church realm--we see that relationships and the control factors in human beings are really the root of sin's unfolding.  We see that even if we people are not trying to control one another in some way, usually with our not being able to face that we do it overtly or covertly, consciously or subconsciously--if not controlling other people, we indeed then in some way try to control God.

The control of God is uncovered easily enough through any lack of faith in His total providence.  Our trying to control God comes when we attach some set or expected outcome or what we wish to see of our "hope".  It comes when we do not love God above all things; truly it does.  For then we are trying to control God by proxy:  We place people, places, things, situations and our desires above God.  We replace God with ourselves, even if that is hard for us to accept or see it is so.

I've spent a lot of time being diverted from loving God above all else, by getting caught up in my reactions to situations and persons.  I recently have realized just how emotionally and psychologically abusive we can be to one another in various ways; and part of the abuse and waste of it all is that we try to control others and try to control God.

Not worth expending our bodies, minds, hearts, and spirits on fussing about who did or said this or that, or why, or drag out the situation.  Sometimes we must remove ourselves, shake dust from sandals and move on physically or more often, mentally and emotionally and especially spiritually.  

The spiritual reality and path is Jesus' way as truth and life.  We must strive to love God in Himself and to think of God above all else, and in that love of God, love will abide and abound and flow from us, as God loves.

The following are from the concluding paragraphs of the Collected Works' introduction.  They are simply stated, directly stated, and I also note how much it resonated with me to be reminded of an incident in John's life that demonstrates his devotion to the Living Word of God:  the Bible.  

The incident:  John's fellow friars tried to get him to join them when in Lisbon visiting, to go meet a famed stigmatic living there.  John refused to go and instead spent the day by the ocean, reading his Bible.  The others went off to visit the stigmatic, drawn by the phenomenon.

I have to admit, I asked myself if I'd have chosen  a day with my Bible or would I have gone to see the stigmatic?  And I sadly admit that I think I'd have trotted off to take in the unusual phenomenon of a stigmatic--and probably would have spent time and talk with the others, later, debating if real or deceptive phenomenon.

But back to John of the Cross:

''From his Bible and his nearness to God, John knew that loving confidence in Providence was the appropriate response to life's worries and anxieties.  He observed that when God, like a loving mother, wants to carry us, we kick and cry and insist on walking by ourselves, and get nowhere.  Some thought that since he was prior of a poor monastery he should show more concern about material needs.  They would have liked him to worry.  But his habit of seeing God in all things contributed, in fact, to an air of peace and calm.  

"This was his way, too, in persecution.  he saw the hand of God there and urged others not to speak uncharitably of his persecutors, but to think 'only that God ordains all.'  He wrote that trust in God should be so great that even if the whole world were to collapse one should not become disturbed.  Enduring things with equanimity reaps many blessings, he said, and helps a person in the middle of adversity to make an appropriate judgment and find the right option.  This total trust in God gave him peace in his final illness.  Being reminded of all he had suffered, he replied with these remarkable words: 'Padre, this is not the time to be thinking of that; it is by the merits of the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ that I hope to be saved.'"

While I suppose it is all right to take note of ourselves or others trying to control aspects of our lives in silly or also harmful ways, to give much inner space or emotional energy to the persons or situations is not having total trust in God. Rather, we place our trust in thoughts, or in emotions, or physical ills--or judgments or regrets or of desired conquests of persons, places, things, situations.

What I do want is for me to accept and recognize and be loyal in faithfulness and love to the reality that God controls all aspects of my life as well as eternal, infinite existence of the soul's being.  And that is love of God, that He loves so much as to love me and ordain all in me and around me, and that He does the same for all others and else.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Catholic Hermit: Elevating Toward Kingdom of Heaven

Once again, the thoughts are turned toward a choice to be made.  To remain in the temporal law, and that can include the attitudes and concerns of the temporal aspects of the Catholic Church, or to allow the mind, heart, soul--and in many ways, also the body--toward that which is above, toward "the kingdom of heaven".

And this, of course, is very much within us, within our bodies, minds, hearts, and our very souls.  This is the "tabernacle within", the innermost place where we may remain in Christ and where He "abides" in us and asks us to "abide in Him."

And here we have The Catechism of the Catholic Church pointing out to us what Jesus teaches us in the Gospels and what the Living Word of God in the fullness of Scriptures, sets forth for us.  We are to think of that which is above, to turn to God, to exist in His Love, and to live out God's Law of Love.

I'm appreciating all the more (while weeding the vegetable garden area of the hermitage property) the Beatitudes.  My pondering the first two of the Beatitudes (blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who mourn) did not unearth any conscious insights, but while considering them, all the same, a phone call interrupted my contemplation.

The caller brought up a priest who wants nothing to do with a special celebration commemorating the anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima, nor did he present the full Scripture readings at the Easter Vigil Mass.  He skipped some; but later he was given an "out" for he needed new reading glasses.  Yet, this priest has not proven to be a spiritual guide, a fully-plugged in cleric and has shown more interest in wanting the rectory renovated to his liking.

The question was asked of me, "Do you think the parish [of the caller] is one of those outposts in which ineffective and issue-plagued priests are sent?"

Thus surfaced my recent thoughts about just how many very holy priests there are in any given country in any given century.  I shared with the caller how Teresa of Avila sought a holy priest or more--brilliant, devout, desirous of leading souls spiritually and with the ability to do so, and ones who loved God above all else.  So it was she found John of the Cross, and with another, older holy priest, she developed a cadre of priests who could guide and offer the Sacraments to her religious sisters in the growing communities St. Teresa was founding.

She was adamant that she did not want her sisters to have the awful encounters and experiences with inept and incompetent priests she'd had growing up and in her earlier years of religious life.

So I pointed out to the caller that it is refreshing to know that a saint was so direct and honest in the assessment of her times and the state of the Church then.  And it is best to be realistic now, as well.  

Take St. John Vianney, for example.  He was considered a dull and dud-priest so was sent to an "outpost" parish in France.  He is an exception, of course.  He was brilliant in his own right, for he loved God above all things and loved the Living Word, and lived out his love of Christ in union with Him, and poured himself out with Christ to the parishioners and the many people who came to Ars, France, having heard of this priest with a gifted soul.

All the saintly souls I can think of, in the Church--in consecrated life be it eremite, religious, holy orders, priest, or laity--or of those I've read: they are few.  Jesus did say the path to the kingdom of God is narrow and few are they who are on it.  And that by our humanly choices--for we can choose to fill the narrow path if we want.  It does not have to be sparsely trod, after all.

Yet this requires our own decisions and desires.  We can be like St. Teresa and those like her who see the reality, unsavory and pathetic as it might be, but who then choose to not be distracted by the woeful issues and state of affairs in the Church (of which we all are the Body), and to remedy the situation at least within our own little spheres, beginning with our own souls and spiritual lives.

So is it worth it to be distracted at Easter Vigil by noting the laxity and liturgical goofs of the priest?  Is it worth it to focus on what is not occurring in the parish, or not having the Sacraments properly administered, or that the priest is more interested in getting a lovelier place to live, or that he does not have a devotion to the Virgin Mary?

Where does all that lead our own thoughts, feelings, and spirit?

Not toward union with God, I submit.  For I have been distracted a'plenty over the 22 years of being a Catholic.  I noticed the many ills and liturgical outrages, was scandalized repeatedly by this or that in the temporal Catholic world of Church and those of us who call ourselves Catholic and Christian.  I was distracted by these and grieved by the issues and the troubles and by the priests and religious who were not living the lives that I had read about.

And again, where did that lead my own thoughts, feelings, and spirit?  It led to perpetual upset and increased scrutiny of others, of Mass, of the Sacraments.  It led to always feeling as if I had to always be on the alert and to walk through life in the Church like one treacherously stepping through a field of land mines.

So I urged the caller, a dear spiritual friend, that rather we should follow the lead of the likes of Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, John Vianney, Bruno the Carthusian, Mother Teresa and so many others.  While they were few in the full context of populations of Catholic Christians over the centuries--they did something about it beyond being distracted, upset, and complaining.  

And we, too, if we want to live God's law and to follow and remain in Christ's love:  we must take responsibility in our daily lives, and simply do something about it.

This spiritual friend knows, and I reminded, of the years I've spent foolishly allow my being waylaid and distracted, upset, frustrated, or indignant like a self-righteous legalist--by the issues, scandals, lack, and the numerous liturgical or otherwise missteps and grievances of the temporal Church and us human people in her.

Yes, do something about it!  And this does not mean do something about this or that liturgical abuse or priests who are not fully plugged into their vocation, or those who are more interested in Canon Laws than the Law of God, or whatever the distraction or present peeve may be.

Do something about it!  Turn to Christ, remain in His Love, learn the Gospel Law, partake of all that is available to us through so many marvelous means, yes, within the Church of which Jesus is the Head and we are the Body.  

I pointed out to my friend that if a priest is not providing spiritual guidance, or whose own issues are keeping him from celebrating Mass or various Sacraments properly, to get entangled and distracted by all that is not setting our own souls on the narrow path nor our sights on the kingdom of heaven.

We do have the greatest of all in Jesus Christ and the Living Word of God--we can refer to and steep ourselves in the Law of the Gospel.  We have the best of human spiritual directors, priests, religious superiors, and holy Christians who have made it in life and death to union with God.  They have left their writings, examples, and life experiences and guidance for us.  Read all about it!

And here, so simply stated in a few sections of The Catechism, we are reminded that in Jesus' beatitudes, written down in the Gospel of Matthew, we have yet another teaching of Jesus in which the law of charity by "elevating and orienting" those of us open to accepting the new law, to the kingdom of heaven.

Today once the spinal headache is simmered down, hopefully so, I will continue pondering, while weeding and maybe even doing some seed-planting, Jesus' Beatitudes.  I'm just focusing on the first portions, not what will be the gift as a result.  Blessed are the meek....  Who are the meek and what is meekness?  How is Christ meek; how did He live and teach meekness when on earth?  Who of the holy followers of Christ have been meek, or those alive and meek in this time period, and in what ways were or are they meek?  

And then, of course, I will pray for meekness.  In Christ, if in His Love, surely there is meekness, for He is meek and humble of heart.

The following is from Section 1967 of The Catechism:

"The Law of the Gospel 'fulfills,' refines, surpasses, and leads the Old Law to its perfection.  In the Beatitudes, the New law fulfills the divine promises by elevating and orienting them toward the 'kingdom of heaven."  It is addressed to those open to accepting this new hope with faith--the poor, the humble, the afflicted, the pure of heart, those persecuted on account of the Christ and so marks out the surprising ways of the Kingdom."

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Catholic Hermit Sets Sights on Sermon on the Mount

Since reading in The Catechism that the Sermon on the Mount is a living and perfect rendition of living the Gospel law, the divine law--the Law of Love--I am focusing my sights on it for the day.  And, I hope, my body, mind, heart and spirit continue on with the teachings of Jesus firmly implanted in my interior by the workings of the Holy Spirit!

I was going to try to get the pained body out to the vegetable garden area by 10 a.m., but we see how a disciplined horarium or hourly schedule for this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit is simply not so feasible in sensory or practical, human ways.  The bodily pain rules the temporal roost!  Yet the mind, heart and spirit can be open to whatever "schedule" of the spiritual the Holy Spirit wishes to lay out in every present moment.

Yes, my own choices do affect whether or not I acquiesce to the Holy Spirit's non-temporal-time "horarium."  God is timeless, and in Him there is no earthly time other than a season and time for everything under heaven.  That is, all that God wills for us in our earthly lives--and this is key for grasping why circumstances are not all that firmly rooted, or ought not be considered so.

I could choose to ignore the inner nudge to write out the Beatitudes, at this point in temporal time, but rather to force the pained body up and out sooner.  Yet, for this present moment, perhaps there is an open-willingness to the wisdom the Holy Spirit also tries to impart within us!  

Thus, I am going to delay the weeding (and hopefully planting some veggie seeds and starts) in order to at least read and write the Beatitudes this morning.  In this selection, the Gospel Rule of Life as the perfection of the divine law is exemplified in how Jesus taught to live out charity.

So here are the Beatitudes.  I think it is worth delaying my temporal work in order to have these teachings implanted in my brain and hopefully also heart and soul, for the earth-time I will then be out working the soil, plucking unwanted weeds, and maybe getting to the planting.

From Matthew 5:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, 
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn,
   for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
   for they will inherit the land.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
   for they will be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful,
   for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the clean of heart,
   for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
   for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake 
of righteousness,
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you 
   and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] 
   because of me.

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.
   Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Catholic Hermit: Law of Gospel the Perfection of Divine Law

Have been considering yet again, the most perfect rule of life, the Gospel Rule, the greatest of laws being the Gospel law, and God's law being the Law of Love, or charity.

I've noticed that The Catechism of the Catholic Church expresses these points concisely--of which I surely would not do as my thoughts and writings tend to meander through fields of feelings and thoughts, usually tinted and augmented by physical pain and extraneous examples from daily life.

This nothing consecrated Catholic hermit had yesterday a huge challenge to the great Peace of Christ that has dwelt within my mind, heart, and spirit since Lent.  The devil was at work as is as always, but the physical pain siege wears down the resistance, and the evil one knows and swoops in.  There was a nightmare of my last living aunt who has regressed into increasing pride and caustic comments.  

Upon waking I realized it was but a nightmare with pokes and prods from the devil.  My response was to pray yet again the Lord's Prayer for this aunt, as her only living child, nearly 70 years of age and I have agreed to pray the Our Father each day for as long as the aunt lives.  I'm sure it is doing us much good, this prayer that Jesus taught us mortals to pray.

Yet there were other nasty pokes of recent memory and beyond. I realized it is unlikely I can finish this property and sell yet this summer.  The work load seems endless--and that load seems all the heavier with increased bodily pain.  There is pressure from an adult family member who floated a small loan to keep me working to finish and sell--ASAP, as I was reminded a week ago.

But the yard and gardens are past due for work efforts, and yesterday after doing a load of laundry and hanging on the line, I began what I'd been putting off due to interior work efforts.  The vegetable garden area, 30x90 feet, had weeds and oat grass high and thick.  Some parsley root had taken over a section of blueberry bushes to the extent that the bushes were not even visible.  Blue Scotch kale had grown to over 7 feet tall, and nearly 3-foot tall oat grass is thick around the apple trees.

Each season there have been different weeds that seem to take over.  None of them have been easy to rid out.  Yet, I noticed that all the hard work effort of last summer has offered a gift of being able to extricate the weeds much easier than had I not done the time-and-cost consuming effort.  I'd put down cardboard in all areas of the garden other than corn planting space, then had put down mulch that I'd brought in on the used pick up, "Precious Blood."

Preparation is helpful.  I wish I'd realized a couple years ago that the garret attic gable room would develop into a charming little space.  Had I then, I'd have shimmed the floor joists up there so that the finished floor would be level.  It is not, and the only way I got subflooring up there was by heaving up  through the gutted bathroom ceiling beneath, some 3/8" OSB board, two layers of it.  Now to try to level the floor up there is going to be daunting.

The forces of darkness worked on these various thoughts, in addition to needing to cease interior work because the yard and gardens are so out of orderly control. I should have been working in them a month ago.  Yet, as I began weeding, the frustrations and temptation to upset soon gave way to the peace that the Holy Spirit is given us to fulfill within our souls and to positively influence our temporal existences.

I considered God's law, the supreme and perfect law, the Law of Love.  I thought about my granddaughter's grandmother--one of three they have--and the rarity in which I have contact with the girls.  But the other day, a granddaughter made contact on her own, and we did what is known as FaceTime on our computers.  We could see and converse with one another, long distance.  One of her grandmother's lives with them, and I find this wonderful, as I've been told in the past that the son-in-law is all right with his parent but not with my daughter's parent....

Yet somehow the grandmother living there got the iPad and began conversing, and rather rubbed it in thickly how good it is that she is able to be there every single day and how much fun are the granddaughters, and how close they are, and so forth.  It was laid on a bit much with some insinuation included, for it is known there that the adult daughter has chosen estrangement with me.

So thoughts of this situation, also, the devil taunted while I was weeding, my back and feet throbbing with pain and me fighting thoughts of how it seems my life here is not going to change other than if I drop dead while working.  And then I realized that it does not matter, and that it is a marvelous thing indeed that I happen to absolutely love weeding!  

I also realized that I've never once resented the grandmother having the delight of being with the granddaughters; it is a blessing God has given me all my life, that I have never been prone to envy.  (I have plenty of other vices and flaws, to be sure, but at least not that one, and the fact of it amazes me--yes, 'tis a grace from God, that!)  

So all is well, and there is nothing much I can do about changing matters, anyway.  I am here and must keep working and praying, and so my prayers turned to this person who in tone and content had gloried a bit in her situation and favor with her son and my daughter, and that I am rather the outcast, the outsider, the loser.

Yet, of course, none of us in the Lord Jesus are lost whatsoever.  The Good Shepherd looks after us and keeps us close!  We have the Law of the Gospel given us by God, exemplified in teaching and His Life by Christ, and the Holy Spirit brings the law of love to our minds, hearts, and souls.  As is stated so well, through the Holy Spirit the law of the Gospel becomes the interior (within us!) law of charity.

With gratitude, I had but thankfulness that the grandmother had such a marvelous situation in which she can live in a beautiful home with no work other than to take two darling girls to some after school activities and be with them for whatever other enjoyments in their growing up years.  And in all honesty, my own pain issues would more preclude me from consistent usefulness.  Even when I visited last for a few days, the added activity, driving, sitting and conversation brought on a pain siege while there.

Well, we see how this hermit's mind meanders through perhaps, rather than fields of feelings more the streams of consciousness.  But within, it all seems to relate with how the Holy Spirit yesterday brought me out of the devil's attempts to dampen the gift of Christ's peace.  His peace all returned, and there was a glorifying of God in the delight and love of others, and a thankfulness to be reminded that my aunt is in dire need of prayer for while I may die before her, her shelf life on earth is on a narrow trajectory at nearly 94 years of age.

And yes, I might not be able to finish here this summer, and the one who has lent the money might not be happy with that reality, but I was reminded that I am but one human being (and an old and pained one, at that) doing the work here of which inside or outside, either one, is a lot of hard work.  It is miraculously so, abundant graces of God, that I am able to do much at all! 

Then, as the Holy Spirit continued weeding the humanly vexing thoughts and feelings from my mind and emotions, there came the ineffable reality that there is not just one doing the work, but that His Real Presence is with me always, doing the heavy portion as He always does in our lives.  He takes the yoke upon Himself, and we are lifted up and carried along like a dandelion fluff in the breeze.

That the divine law, the Law of Love is the work of Christ and is expressed particularly in the Sermon on the Mount will next carry me to a review of this section of Scripture.  I so want the Law of Love, the Gospel Law, to be perfected in my inner and outer being.  It is the touch of grace to be infused with charity for others, and to delight in their successes and also to be grateful, always, no matter what our own temporal circumstances.  

There was true peace returned yesterday when I considered how marvelous all is at our judgment--and beyond--as then all misconceptions and miscommunications and misunderstandings will be laid out for all of us to listen and be shown.  All that seems murky on earth between loved ones and even strangers who have encountered one another on earth, will be made clear.  What a relief and how charitable of God to straighten out, once and for all, our earthly relationships!

Well, finally, here is the excerpt from The Catechism of the Catholic Church that has me pondering the glories of the Gospel Law, and the Gospel as the perfection here on earth of the divine law, the Law of Love.  And I consider the Holy Spirit working infinitely to bring the Law of Love into our daily lives, into our most interior, innermost place of remaining in Christ.  Within, and from within to without, we may breathe and live and exude charity.

"1965  The New Law or the Law of the Gospel is the perfection here on earth of the divine law, natural and revealed.  It is the work of Christ and is expressed particularly in the Sermon on the Mount.  It is also the work of the Holy Spirit and through him it becomes the interior law of charity.  'I will establish a New Covenant with the house of Israel....I will put my laws into their hands, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.'"

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Catholic Hermit: So Much Pain

This nothing consecrated Catholic hermit's body is in so much pain!  Had stopped pain meds a few months ago due to the "racket" of medical profession regarding pain meds for those with actual need.  The charges for an appointment, refill--would be ridiculously high.  Probably it is assumed a pain patient will pay anything for the modicum of relief and will jump through any hoops; well, not this pained one.

I also was frustrated by the misinformation, ignorance, and bias regarding pain medications.  I had to always research whatever other medications suggested, and always the other medications had far worse side effects to the body.  Plus, there is a lack of knowledge about pain meds with those who have not had intractable pain for years; there is this notion that anyone who takes pain meds becomes "addicted."  Not so.

Medication goes to the area of illness or pain and is utilized by the body.  Addiction occurs when a person does not have pain or illness; if a person gets a "high" from a pain medication, for example, that person does not need it.

Regardless, the pain medication only took the edge off as was on such a low dose, anyway.  And there was no withdrawal, contrary to what might be presumed.  Of course, my body was utilizing the little bit of pain aid, the nerve receptors being dulled a tad, and that tad I realized was not worth it for all the other hassles, including time and money and physical sitting and energy used in being yanked around in the "racket" system of what pain patients go through with medical professionals these days.

So, this body is in very high pain today and has been for a couple days.  But I've tried to keep going, doing small tasks with lots of rest breaks.  Lifting some boxes of tile and having to stand on concrete floors at a couple of Lowe's, did in the spine this time.  I tried a half a pain med this morning, in desperation to get it toned down as it seemed nearing the unbearable point of suffering.  Yet, the toning down was so minimal, that I realized how glorious is God's grace and my dropping out of the "racket".

Am slowing reading in The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross.  I'd read it before, but the mind has been filled with many things since then.  New vocabulary and skills of construction, plumbing, electrical wiring, tiring, drywalling--the mind a large container of infinite capacity to hold much information and imagery. Yet, the capacity for recall is, as is suggested, about 10% of mind honed with 90% yet available for "tilling" and "germination."

One aspect of the reading, thus far, has made an impression relative to a bit of news I noticed this morning.  A nun in Argentina has been arrested for her role in facilitating deaf children to be raped, sodomized and otherwise sexually abused by several priests.  The nun's role also included physically abusing the children.  Ah, my.  And to also read--'tis true--that a lead abusive priest was passed on from doing the same in Italy--sent to Argentina for a fresh snatch of victims at his disposal and a nun from Japan to help facilitate the abuse.

The news reminded me of something St. Teresa of Avila spoke of and believed to be true.  She was so upset by the state of the Catholic Church--its troubles and issues--in her day and time period, that she considered it akin and united with Christ's sufferings.  She viewed the Church in this way--the unfortunate and dastardly troubles as a continuation of Christ's crucifixion that He suffered and suffers.

This made sense to me.  St. Teresa had determined to provide priests who were holy, inspired, and educated and experienced with guiding her sisters and teaching them in the spiritual life, plus who would be excellent confessors.  She did not want her sisters in the various convents developing in the reform of the Carmelites, to endure what she had endured with inadequate priests.

Thus, when she heard of and met the young John of the Cross, she found in him such holiness and brilliance that she enthused him to grasp her ideal for the reform also of the male contingent of the Carmelite Order.  She developed a vein in the Order by which priests would be formed specifically to help teach and guide in the spiritual life and provide the sacraments for the sisters who would join Teresa's various houses.

It does make sense to me as one whom the Lord called many years ago now to suffer with and for His Church, to unite with Him in suffering thus.  I suppose I had started to question the call to suffer thus.  But once again in my little life, Teresa of Avila has come through with casting aside my doubts; she had come to this realization and call to suffer with Christ and to know that Christ suffers with and for His Church--then, and surely very much if not more so, now.

So my sufferings of intense and nauseating pain today, are linked and offered with Christ for the nun in Argentina, in a jail there, and with and for the various priests who have been in jail for a couple years, and for whoever it was in the Vatican and the one priest's diocese in Italy, who sent the known sexual abuser of deaf children to Argentina to another school for deaf children.

With that, this pained and sickened hermit is going to attempt getting up despite burning of spine and down legs to the feet, horrible headache, nausea from radiating pain--and will see if the body can begin carrying up the ladder to garret gable room, the hardwood flooring pieces so they can acclimate to the room's temperature and humidity level.  The wood needs to rest there for a few days, adapting, prior to installation.

I had to give up and will return the laminate flooring I'd gotten for oh-such-a-good-deal.  The little lip edges were pressed cardboard or such; I'd have several rows laid only to have a plank third row in, pop up.  After spending several hours battling this laminate stuff, I realized yet again there are not short cuts in life and a good deal is not always worth it.  Quality matters, in other words.

And so it is for all of us in the Body of Christ.  There are no short cuts in the spiritual life, and quality matters in and with and regarding all aspects of ours souls, our hearts, our minds, and our bodies.

I'm sure Christ has suffered plenty on behalf of my portion of being in the Body, the Church.  Perhaps some of my call to suffer has been for my own lacking of quality, of my own flaws and not living up to the Christian ideal or even to living out some of the more basic virtues, commandments, Scriptures.

Like planks that snap together, our lacking or missteps or weakness can cause all kinds of problems for all those planks around us, counting on us to not pop up and cause the Body to not function or be functional. When one pops out of place, the rest is not in place, either, and a slightly raised plank can easily cause others to stumble.

I'm impressed that Teresa of Avila did not ignore the troubles of the Church in her day.  She recognized the wrongs and the issues, the weak links (so to speak).  Teresa determined to do what she could by the grace of God, to provide at least for the sisters in her reformed Discalced Carmelite Order, to have the best of ideal training, spiritual guidance. and sacramental life, as possible.  No way did she want her sisters to encounter what she had encountered in religious life and prior.

There is something refreshing about facing reality, painful as it may be, and in striving to begin with ourselves and in whatever way we have with those around us.  Take up the bad, the old, the less-than functioning and replace with quality and goodness, that which is wholly and holy good.

(And with the flooring in the garret gable room, I realize that with the better flooring--the hardwood--the not-level aspects of the floor joists make the slant quite noticeable.  On a day, should another day come for this body, when not in as much pain, I will begin the tedious leveling process.  Not wise to lay lovely, quality flooring over a slanted floor....)

All is connected, from God to us, in Him and with us, and quality does matter as much as bad can distort.