Saturday, August 23, 2014

Hold the Torch or Merely Bear It?

I have pondered today, also, various visions and forewarning events of the past, prior to my conversion to Catholicism.  I suppose one must examine all in context and time frame, over the years as the body, mind, heart and soul progress in this journey to His Real Presence, knowing that one is through, with and in Him all along.

It helps, also, to reflect upon what trusted and decent others have said, here and there.  All these aspects do shed light upon the path and help us discern God's will and the way we are to trod. 

One dear minister of advanced years, told me later that he always considered me a prophetess.  That stunned me, as I had not considered that role or assignment, per se.  I suppose it is in part an aspect, though, of the Christian life; some must hold the torch upon the truth and allow its full reflection to be seen by others, even if the consequences may mean a metaphoric or in some way an actualized, toss into the cistern.  Or, sometimes one is called upon to bear the truth and be the immolation in whatever way is most difficult and painful.

Another minister, younger and of whom I saw raw, partially gesticulated fish vomiting from his mouth as he read Scripture in the worship service one Sunday morning, did not appreciate my giving him a message, a few days later.  I was shown and told this, and I shed light on it:  You are an adulterer.

Now, this man was married and quite faithful in his marital vows as far as sexual fidelity.  But the Lord told me it just as He showed me:  an adulterer.  Knowing the man's faithfulness in the typical sense, I researched the word adulterer, of which adulterate clarified the message. 

Yes, it took guts to tell this minister and to explain why the word came to me, and when, and how, and from whom.  I tried to speak gently, kindly, and owned that this can befall any of us.  But the fact was, the Lord had shown me and told me, that this minister, a man of the cloth, had been adulterating his position.  He was making the words he read from the Scriptures, impure, tainted and altered due to the very way he so poorly treated his elderly secretary and a few others, when he thought no one would notice.  

He was delivering inferior goods of his spiritual learning and leadership, adulterating the Gospel message, and not being faithful to Whom he represented as leader of this particular congregation, this church.  I simply asked him to please consider what I was told, and to try to treat those he mistreated, with charity and justice.  Then, also, I likely would not be shown the masticated, raw fish spewing from his mouth on Sunday morning when he read Scriptures to us.

I assured him that whenever I am shown something of any need for improvement in others, I likewise see it as a reminder for my own life.  I gave him some examples.  I wanted him to grasp that I am with him in desiring what the Lord would like in change for the better, in me, and in him who represented Christianity as a pastor in that particular church.

After my conversion to Catholicism, there were more encounters, but I wanted to fit in better and did not desire controversy.  However, there were several instances of being given a torch that essentially shed light on some issues that were too negative to let pass.  Sometimes I would try to bear the wrong for the other person or persons.  I would pray and suffer.  

But often enough, the situation was dire enough that required my holding the torch up close for the person to see for him- or herself, the flaw, the wrong, the offense against our calling as Christians:  our offense against His Real Presence.  Most often, our offenses against His Real Presence are meted out through offending others or being offensive in our selves.

A friend once wrote, after feeling terrible for the suffering I'd endure as a result of what I was shown, holding the torch or to bear it, and she said, "Stop reading priests' souls!"  Then, shortly after, she wrote again and said, "I'm sorry.  I realize you aren't doing it but rather God is showing you what you'd probably rather not have to see and that the rest of us miss."

It is a terrible suffering to be given a torch to hold, to shed light on what one is shown that is not what we or others wish to have revealed.  It is also a terrible suffering to bear the torch, to carry it in silence but all the same see what could so easily be improved or altered for the good of all souls.  And it is yet another suffering to be placed in a position where one must speak to the person or persons involved, to hold the torch closer and show them, to share with them the knowledge of what they wanted to be kept in the dark.  And then one must offer ideas as to how to change the situation, to correct, and then also to encourage and uplift the person that with God, all things are possible.

Sometimes people do not want to improve.  Those people often react negatively and want the person holding the torch or even bearing it, to be out of sight and out of mind.  Run the person out, toss him down the cistern, sell him off as a slave, discredit, imprison, decapitate.  All these responses do happen in one way or another even if not literally.

Bruno seemed to have grown weary of battling the bishop who was bothered by his teaching abilities and success in 11th century Cologne, Germany.  He had six companions, two or three of them also priests, who left for the farthest reaches of the Alps so they could worship and adore His Real Presence far from the temporal Catholic world and those such as bishops--far, far away from the adulteration that can creep into even the most lofty person, at least to the eyes of the unwitting public.

Bruno did not make his escape right away after he and his friends made a pact to do it.  They waited for the right timing, and off they went, not quite knowing where in particular and even thinking perhaps they might join in with some Benedictine monks with whom they wintered over.  But come spring, they set off, walking into the French Alps, finding a most remote area in which to begin their lives in truth, beauty, goodness and freedom from temporal spiritual oppression.  (Bruno did not set out to create the Carthusian order.  He lived it; one of his companions developed it into an order after Bruno's death.)

The mystical spiritual oppression is yet another battle and one that cannot be escaped by moving from place to place.  That has to be discerned and faced, the torch held up close to it.  It must be exposed and borne, both.  Hold the torch and bear it.

Regardless, my thoughts return to asking His Real Presence if my task is to keep writing of the process, and to hold the torch as well as to bear it when shedding the light is not effective in itself.  Am I to write of what I see and experience, even though shameful in ways, or at least ought to be shaming?  Ought I remain in this hovel, in the farthest reaches from most humanity and hidden away from the eyes of men, and yet hold the torch to what is shown me either through visions or temporal encounters?

As one of my longest-time friends said when I was considering if God wanted me to move from the terrorizing neighbors, "You can pray for them from a distance.  You don't need to live right next door to them any longer and be abused and threatened."  I wonder if that is advice, likewise, for the more local parish, or for any parish?  I certainly do suffer and grieve about the situations that I am shown and of which my simple, silent presence seems to be a torch in itself, igniting and then exposing icy, fearful, and judgmental reactions.  And a whole lot more.

Yes, for now I will be the immolation in this hovel cistern hermitage, and I will pray and pray for neighbors far away and close, and for thy neighbor as thyself in church parishes and church congregations the world over.  I will suffer much for all that is torched of my own soul, too.  And that is probably the most painful to bear.

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