Monday, June 2, 2014

A Hermit's View on Validation, Approval and Credibility

Yesterday's second reading for Mass triggers some thoughts.

"But rejoice in so far as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, a criminal, or even as a mischief-maker. Yet if any of you suffers as a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace, but glorify God because you bear this name. (I Peter 4: 13-16 )

A video on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit contains concepts and ideas that very much reflect the speaker's personal agenda or vocation.  As a charismatic, he considers that all of us baptized and confirmed have all the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  This is so.  He said the reason not all the gifts are utilized by all of us, is due to God's choosing by His will and need, in any given circumstance.  Makes sense.  But when he said that God does not consider sickness and suffering to be crosses that we are to pick up and carry, and that we are not helpers with Jesus in suffering for reparation of sins, his message became murky.

In these gifts of the Holy Spirit, the speaker cites those St. Paul mentions:  prophecy, healing, tongues, interpretation of tongues, miracles, etc.)  The man adds that it is all right if God chooses not to use them in him or us, as God is in charge, or if we refuse the call.  Yes.  As for our reparative suffering not being Scriptural, he offers reasons how the words of St. Paul have been incorrectly interpreted and exclude our involvement in reparative suffering.  Murky, but we are fallible when we think and speak.

The video content and the speaker's comments have connection to this hermit's views on validation, approval and credibility.  Toward the beginning of his preaching, the man explained his calling from God as an evangelist.  He is a Catholic, and his bishop affirmed (details of that conversation shared with listeners) his vocation to preach and evangelize. 

This was the man's establishing his credibility, by mentioning the bishop's approval, and thus groundwork for our accepting him and his thoughts as validated by a recognized figure with a title and all that title can mean. However, some of what the man shared was laden with his own views as a self-labeled "charismatic."

There are many examples of others and ourselves when we either state our own "credentials" or try to link ourselves with those we think will provide validity and approval.  We do this for others, too.  

Someone referred me to a woman who has written books on angels and gave credibility by saying she is a devout Catholic.  Still, there were aspects in the content of the woman's talks that include some souls choosing reincarnation for another go at life.  The Church does not teach that nor would approve, unless by some cleric who wanders from the tenets of Faith.  Reincarnation is of other religions or "New Age."

Succumbing to stating a title or mentioning some priest's or bishop's or doctor's approval or validation of self, or an advanced degree from a prestigious university, or career, or religious order or recognition, is a type of calling card given when feeling the need for personal credibility, usually in times of doubt, insecurity, or persecution.  We all have done or do it.

At one point a nationally-known bishop was my spiritual director.  He approved and said he found credible my vocations as victim soul and hermit.  After a year of grilling on the state during Mass, he declared this hermit's mystical experiences valid and of God.  At the time, I rather chuckled within because a doctor known for his gift in working with and discerning the paranormal, validated this nearly three decades earlier.  But so what?  Why did I need their approval, other than if asking for simple, prudent aid in discernment of spirits?  If we are faithful, humble, and patient, God provides truth, one way or another, by the end of earthly life.

This same spiritual director refused to consult with the doctor, refused to read anything that would explain the state, was surprised when he discovered that this hermit educated and able and had ability to teach on topics of faith and religion.  "You should be teaching others in the Cathedral!  Tell the rector that I say you should be teaching in the religious ed program!"  Well, God did not want that.  And the rector did not want that; and he did not care that the retired bishop said so or not.  His loyalty in obedience had turned to the new bishop.  (And that's usually how our earthly--even ordained--status meets its end...retired and discounted: over and done.)

Recalling an earlier time when the bishop thought I was an imbecile and asked my name, I decided at last minute to include my professional title.  I rarely do otherwise, only when feeling a need to establish myself as something or someone when being disapproved and persecuted.  So pathetic.  While it would not be holy to intentionally confuse others, this hermit is yet learning it is far better to be considered a good-for-nothing than to seek validation, approval and be found credible by others, especially those who likewise seek or sought temporal validation and approval in order to be credible to or others--and by them, to ourselves.

We never make the mark on our own or by others, anyway.  We are human and sinners, and we slip up despite titles and approval and validation by others or in their auspices, of groups or agencies.  And, this is relative to the spiritual life as it intersects the temporal.  As for the temporal and secular realm, we rather count on approvals and validations in the form of credentials, titles and licensing to protect us from fraud and injustice.  

But that is not by any means foolproof, either.  People with titles and validated by licensing and credentialing agencies, or by political office or corporation status, never make the mark, anyway.  We and they are human and sinners, and we and they slip up despite approval, validation and whatever credibility given them in titles and position.

In this phase of spiritual growth and temporal existence, the guise of my own need for validation, approval and credibility by others has been exposed and stripped within my own thoughts and experiences.  I see the foolishness in others but more so in my own silly attempts in the past to desire to be approved by others, to be validated and found credible.  Why?  Probably fear--fear and insecurity that I would not be believed, utilized, or have purpose if others did not approve or believe how God works within and without the soul of my existence.

It was not for worldly status in my case; it was with a desire to be acceptable to others for the sake of working for God, and of being utilized to help others grow in faith.  The error made in this naive desire, is that the only valid and credible approval when it comes to life in His Real Presence, is God's anointing:  God's validation, approval, and deeming a soul credible in and by His authority.

Yes, there is His authority in the Church and in the bishops and priests therein.  But a close reading of the Catechism and Scriptures shows that those anointed by God have human views and actions that create a mix (and sometimes a mess) of human and divine.  Think King David, Jacob, Moses, Zachariah, Peter, Paul--all the apostles--and popes, bishops, priests, men and women of stature and position throughout the history of the Church.  And that includes you and me, now living on this earth and members of the Holy Catholic Church or any other.

That is why a shift has occurred this year, with a view on validation, approval and credibility that debunks my own silliness, for I have learned that my degrees and experience, my God-given gifts and intelligence and experiences both temporal and spiritual, are as St. Thomas Aquinans considered of his theological writing compared to one mystical experience of the glory of God toward the end of his life:  "mere straw".

Yet, we continue to plop explanatory words with our names, titles that represent our earthly vocations and also those that very much combine temporal with spiritual vocations, such as those within the Church.  But this is why I have learned to run toward persecutions and embrace ridicule and disapproval and doubt--even being discredited as any one of my titles:  mother, grandmother, Catholic, Christian, victim soul, Catholic hermit, doctor.  

 I so hope to be disapproved, invalidated and found not credible by man so as to let God have complete dominion over my existence, my utilization as His child and Bride, and as one soul in His Body.  God's validation, approval and finding me credible means all to me.  God can utilize great sinners like Saul to become Pauls--or not.  That "not" is rather important, too, but I am open to anything God wills.

Perhaps this is why God needs to provide painful lessons associated with each such, in that being approved, validated and given any sort of credibility by others (even by those in life's powerful and accepted positions of authority) ought be relegated to a place if any, in shadow to the great light of God's approval and His validation, and being found credible by Him--and utilized by Him much as the speaker said of the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit:  when God chooses and needs by His will.

This is not to say that we do not need auspices of credentialing and screening of those in paid positions and leadership, no matter of the temporal secular or temporal spiritual realms.  The politicians call it the vetting process.  But we do see that at utmost, no amount of accreditation or approval or validation precludes the human flaws and our on-going propensity to err.

I have come to know from lived experience, repeatedly, that when the saints write of detachment and of being nothing to His All, and of the beauty of embracing disapproval, invalidation, and lack of credibility, then can God's power and glory be brought to a fullness because there is nothing else but His will regarding the otherwise stripped-of-earthly and spiritual esteem.  It is an intimacy between the soul and God.

But this soul is not quite there, yet.  Not quite.  It is an on-going process and best if the soul learns to run-to and not flee from or avoid opportunities of denunciation.  We learn to take on Christ as our identity, and in the Gospel of John we are reminded of our being with Him in the Father, bound by the loving indwelling with the Holy Spirit.

The title of Hermit or Catholic Hermit, on this blog? It remains my thorn prick of how pathetic--my telling others what sort of this or that, or orthodox or devout, or who confirmed or affirmed anything or whatever. I ask no approval or validation by others.  It is part of my stripping to greater dependency in the truth of His Real Presence and the temporal, mystical Head and Body, His Church.  May God in time validate, approve, and find credible whatever aspects of this soul receiving and accepting His calls and living out to whatever degree of goodness and progression, temporally and spiritually, by His grace and my growing human will.

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