Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Catholic Hermit on Justifying Ourselves

Observations continue in viewing the temporal life and the spiritual.  It is well to ponder Jesus' life on earth and also the lives of holy people of the past centuries, in Jesus' time period (John the Baptist) and prior, such as the prophets and patriarchs and matriarchs of the Old Testament.

When personally trying to finish an advanced degree, God reached in with tangible, practical help.  I passed through a heart-wrenching and life-altering divorce following a car accident leaving me with constant pain.  I had three little children to rear despite the financial, physical and emotional hardships.  (Statistics at the time were that female's economic status when divorced was at 25% compared to 75% of the divorced male population.)

However, since I finished all the coursework for a doctoral degree, it seemed best to take the final exams and write the dissertation.  I was working full time to stay afloat and provide for the children.  Three days of written exams loomed, and I did not have the energy or time to adequately prepare.  I took five days off work to do so, including the three days to sit for the exams.

It was the best I could do despite others in the doctoral program expressing concern that it would not be enough compared to their months of preparation and weekend study jams together, in study groups.  They felt compassion for my situation, but there was nothing any of us could do about it.  

I studied as best I could, and I prayed.  The exams required our having no notes or books.  We did not know what questions but had to prepare for general topics in the field.  Our responses were to be backed by specific citations from current literature and documented, published studies.  We needed to commit any number of these to memory:  title, author, publisher, journal number, date, page.

A week or so prior to the exam, I was awakened in the night.  I was shown in "inner sight", the vision of ancient men sitting around a large, rectangular table with thick, oak top.  They faded in and out of my inner sight like photographs being developed and undeveloped.  They had stacks of volumes in front of them on the table.

I asked of God what could this mean?  Not long after I had an answer:  God was letting me know that these ethereal beings would help me with the exams. 

As I continued preparing, nights after the children were in bed, by reviewing and memorizing various class notes and textual references, I told God I would try the best I could humanly do.  The three days of written exams arrived.  I arranged for the children to stay with friends while I spent nights with another friend who lived not far from the university.

During the exams, I could see files of information being opened before me, and details would be shown within my inner sight, assisting me with answers.  In fact, I was able to weave into some exam answers, the spiritual with citations from C.S. Lewis and others when their writings could help substantiate some aspect of my response.

Six weeks later I returned to the university to meet with the panel of advisers and find out the results of the exam.  Each doctoral candidate had this review and to learn if he or she would be allowed to proceed with writing the dissertation.  The weight of all the many courses, papers and exams completed, in addition to costs in time and money, weighed heavily.  One of my daughters insisted she come along to support me, although she was only ten years old.  

I walked into the room of committee members, and there was an uncomfortable silence.  I assumed I had not passed but prayed God's will be done.  After a few moments of settling in, the head of the committee said, "You not only passed, but you passed with high honors."  The other professors then interjected with encouragement and relaxed joy, as they knew some of my recent life's trials since my ex-husband shared the same career field.  They marveled at how I was able to do so well under the circumstances.

I knew how, and I praised God for helping me pass this major hurdle in the degree process.  Ironically, I did not then know that within months a major back surgery, death experience in recovery, and a second back surgery to save my life would leave me with intractible pain--unable to utilize the degree in the career world or in tangible ways of the temporal realm. 

All this exemplifies the necessary efforts in the temporal world, of being able to support our thoughts and answers by temporal documentation.  Others need to be assured that the persons hired or elected have a level of competence as judged by peers, and this can include those who are called to leadership, including in churches.  Citing references and augmenting our words and actions by referencing what others have published, is an important tangible aspect of justifying and trying to prove our stances.

But in the spiritual life, we do not need temporal justification or documentation by or of others.  Consider Jesus.  He did not reference or cite what temple priests, scribes or experts on Judaic law said or wrote.  He referenced God the Father and the Pentateuch (the Scrolls).  Consider any of the prophets.  They cite God.  Moses relayed what God said and did not justify his words or His Words by any other means.

All this makes me ponder the more, the writings of great and holy souls in Christendom, in the Church, who have passed on to us much wisdom and guidance for the spiritual life.  They do not justify themselves or their words by any other persons than The Three Persons: God, His Son, and the Holy Spirit.

I pray to do likewise, for it is God's justification that I seek, not man's.  My mission is union with God, and my service to His Church and the Body of Christ is to assist others in seeking God through the spiritual life.  Obeying the various laws of the land as well as those of the Church are not difficult to effect, especially when the focus of the body, mind, heart and very soul are upon God.  Paying our dues in the world are as simple as Jesus told Peter to pay the temple tax.  

Do and be done with the earthly aspects, simply and dutifully, when and how they need to be handled. But keep our inner and outer beings always in focus on that which is above, on matters of the love of God and on the love of those and that which He has created and loves.  In God, in our spiritual lives of seeking God in all things, we do not need to be justified or made credible by any other name than the Holy Name of Jesus.

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