Sunday, September 21, 2014

Pain , Frustrating Trials, and Holy Answers!

We get trials in life, and they can seem overwhelming.  

God does not overwhelm.

So we learn to deal with trials and pain as coming from God--not that He sends them specifically, but He allows.   God does not overwhelm.  Who does?  Figure that out, for it is not difficult to determine the deeds of forces of despair and the angels of darkness.

How we learn to take all as coming from the Hand of God (as some spiritual masters term it in their extant writings), is in this truth that while God does not overwhelm, He allows life to unfold and provides strength, power, understanding, wisdom, fortitude--all the gifts of the Holy Spirit and all the fruits of the Holy Spirit, plus our guardian and all choirs of angels to be in force to aid and assist us.  Most notably for humans, He gives us Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.

We are given all we need to overcome anything that overwhelms.  We are given answers in all manner and forms.

A friend who turned 87 on Saturday, emailed that she prayed and prayed during the Sunday vigil Mass, for she wanted to know why her friend (nothing Catholic hermit) was not more accepted and utilized in parishes.  It grieves her and also confounds what she thinks ought to be.  (It touched "nothing" that she would pray so for an answer.)

All through Mass she received no answer.  After Mass while awaiting her husband, 89, who is an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist and daily Mass sacristan, she reviewed the Sunday readings.  The words of two lines of Isaiah 55:9 reached out to her as the answer, which she then relayed in the email.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,   nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord."

She said she felt assurance for herself, for she had found it rather unthinkable the trials her friend has experienced--some which she witnessed when "nothing" lived there and was in the parish.  The words of Isaiah did bring some sense to the matter, but another answer came unexpectedly after a particularly trying day of manual labor and with the family members.

All was going as well as possible with the work on the cabinet installing, after we nailed the rest of the tongue-in-groove ceiling.  It was noted by the son-in-law that his friend's dad, a contractor, had commented that usually one puts in a ceiling before the cabinets.  Too late to realize as the best way, after "nothing" struggled with four initial boards, taking over three hours to install, solo.  And we all struggled, particularly the son-in-law, whose strength was needed in every step of the installation to get imperfect boards pounded into grooves.  (Yes, maybe it is like God dealing with us when we rile against the reality that He did create us and desired us to be perfect, not warped!)

Then while the two daughters and son-in-law bolted in more base cabinets, working on shimming and leveling as best they could, "nothing" finally bit the dust rather literally, and crawled under the house with headlamp and plumbing tools, to cut the copper hot and cold water lines (after turning off the water source into Te Deum House).  "Nothing" prayed to be able to do this final and rather critical aspect of the plumbing--and this after making more phone calls in hopes of finding a plumber to do it despite Rusty at Lowe's and Craig at the lumber company encouraging that it is only a matter of gravity and flow.....  

Well, the plumbing went amazingly well until the last cut of copper.  Just then "nothing" prayed to not become "cocky", and to be humbled in that it already seemed miraculous that the effort was meeting with such success.  It all went well, though.  Joyous thanksgiving in "nothing's" mind and soul!  God provides to the unlearned and little ones, truly.

Then we ran into a cabinet glitch, but best to just leave that.  The dark angels were frothing some frustration.  Time to set the kitchen sink on the sink base cabinet.  The kitchen sink did not fit on the cabinet base.  About that time, we were all worn out.  Admittedly "nothing" fought what Scupoli would describe as leaving the battle field and giving in to the dark angels.  But no, a call to Don at Lowe's, and then thinking of options, all costly and distressingly disappointing.  And yet "nothing" had that sense that God was allowing the trial and ought to accept practicing techniques suggested in Scupoli's Spiritual Combat.

More than ever, despite one very upsetting aspect of a family relationship that was already strained, and the weariness of the two who have given of their time and effort in helping "nothing" with quite the project here, God was working through each trial and each success.  He was not about to pass up the opportunity for spiritual growth for any of those of us in the situation (or maybe those reading this who have their own situations to relate with and ponder).

But, there were other aspects involved previously, and the tension or wounds or whatever is in there, has spread, affecting others.  This particular cross is not "nothing's" alone to bear.  Yet that does not make it easier when others also share a cross; then there is sorrow all the way around when there is discord in a family.  

The next morning, the angels of darkness poked at "nothing" Catholic hermit.  A tearful phone call was made, pleading with the family member to please stay in contact and that the person and family are so very loved.

Back onto the battle field.  God provides the impetus to surge forth.  A pilgrimage to Lowe's, and Don worked out a way to cut down the cabinet, to build a ledger plate with supports inside the cabinet, and the sink can be set on that.  More tips on making sure the cabinets are level and plumb for the counter top installation.  (Metaphors of our souls' growth!)

Ah, then back to Te Deum, praising God for help and thinking how marvelous the son-in-law for helping many times at something he doesn't enjoy doing.  A call to  express the gratitude and observation of sacrifice:  May he be richly rewarded for his generosity and going against his own desires to instead spend another long day at tedious work.  Gratitude, hope, perseverance--and we discussed the firm lesson that one must not leave the battle field despite however many trials.

You see, all the trials we experience in the temporal have all the more a spiritual base and a spiritual solution.  This Te Deum House and the whole circumstances of its troubled issues (or any of life's issues) are placed in "nothing's" life and the life of anyone else who enters physically or spiritually to help or not help.  

We intersect and transect each others temporal and spiritual lives replete with whatever inner or outer trials.  We come together in this present moment and in potential years of moments, in order to learn, to be taught, and to be provided opportunities for spiritual growth.  That is how all of life stacks up, frankly.

Several of the base cabinets need shimming fine-tuning, and "nothing" has not the shoulder strength to get the bolts out.  Currently, progress is once more on hold until someone can help--a strong someone.  The appliance and counter top folks will not be happy after months of delays.  But, that is how it is.  God provides. He provides multiple situations to keep this battle going until "nothing" learns to recognize the angels of darkness and how easily they can move the thoughts to negativity and despair.  

Then God provides the angels of light to help expose the darkness and to encourage the return to peace and other good virtues; and the gifts of the Holy Spirit rise up in their glory within the soul.  Learn to turn always to the Light of His Real Presence, King of Glory.

Now, as to the other answer regarding "nothing" Catholic hermit's trials with parishes, a most unexpected email came last night.  A stranger of light and goodness, a seeker, a priest of many years, happened upon one of "nothing's" videos.  (And to think, "nothing" had recently considered them pointless, poorly rendered, and, well, nothing.)  But something  resonated, and the author of the email expressed that.  Nothing replied and mentioned the current seeking an answer regarding why fitting into a parish seems not God's will.

Another answer came with his response, in addition to the friend sending the words of Isaiah 55:9.  This second answer has to do with the obvious.  One called to the eremitic life and seeking intimacy with Jesus Christ in the silence and solitude of prayer, should not be surprised if keeping a foot in each of two worlds does not work out well.  

At some point, when asked by God for greater commitment and in whatever way God may be uniquely forming a hermit in his or her vocation--the hermit must make a commitment to do as God wills.  The hermit must accept the vocation as to God's desires for He does so specifically, individually, hermit by hermit, soul by soul.  (All this is true for any soul in any vocation.)

There was no going to Mass at the monastery this morning.  "Nothing" could not rise from bed due to pain until that Mass was long over.  And, "nothing" noticed their dress requirements.  No closet, no dress accessible in this hermitage.  The only "habit" to be worn here or to Mass are stained work jeans and old tee shirts, and a rather filthy "Angels" baseball cap the adult son abandoned after college.  So, later on, when there is a closet and a bathroom, and a dress to wear and a hat suitable to the monks' requirements for visitors, "nothing" can tangibly participate in Mass.  For now it must be spiritual and mystical Mass, right here.

Today, the loving and holy folks at Lowe's were fellow parishioners, as also are personal family members despite estrangement with some.  All and each are loved.  

Am not fleeing the battlefield of the temporal or the spiritual trials.  Must not.  Think on the plumbing success; and once God provides a strong person who has not had two shoulder surgeries and a persnickety back, there will be cabinet success.  Then there will be success in all the spiritual lessons learned and virtues practiced, and vices subdued.

We ought learn with effort in practice, no matter how long or much, to overcome our very selves and to love, to learn to love.

Jesus explained to Catherine of Siena that we really cannot "do" anything for Him on earth except through loving others.  This is how we serve Him.  Sometimes others do not let us help them nor want our love; but we love all the same, even if from a distance or without their thinking or realizing it.  We can love and serve God and others within our hearts.

Jesus also told Catherine that if there is but one person we do not love, then we do not possess true love.

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