Saturday, November 22, 2014

More on Renunciation

Yesterday managed to drive the distance into civilization to watch grandson give a science presentation.  The adult daughter discussed options to this situation here, with the latest obstacles and hardships.  The hermit explained how difficult, yet must trust in God and also, somehow, to trust the wisdom and guidance of this 6th century hermit solitary whose name somehow came to mind a few weeks ago, and whose book seems to be helping with the spiritual unraveling of events and explanation of what this hermit is experiencing.

As for renunciation of the world, which is necessary for at least some hermits who aspire to union with God (as Jesus and others have taught and lived), John Climacus makes the point that it is not a renunciation of the world due to the passions or of running away from it, but rather it is the desire to come closer to God in order to love more and attain life within His Real Presence to an ultimate degree.

And that, however, requires the death of the passions, which includes anger and frustration, pride, and various other aspects of the thoughts and emotions that can trip us and entangle us in the renunciation process.  Yet, the world and its increasing obstacles and pitting the soul with roadblocks of complexities, memories, desires of comfort, status or whatever all else--contains with it embers of growing disgust which does help the solitary hermit or any with spiritual aspirations of desiring God.   The reality of the hot embers will assist the hermit in  renouncing or dousing them.  The soul then can better develop an unhindered desire and will to go toward the object of its heart's and soul's desiring:  His Real Presence--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

...our act of renunciation is not for empty honor.  Exile is a separation from everything, in order that one may hold on totally to God.  It is a chosen route of great grief.  An exile is a fugitive, running from all....  Do not wait for souls enamored of the world when you are pressing on towards solitude and exile....Anyone telling you he can combine these yearnings [even of family, of the world] is deceiving himself.  "No one can serve two masters" [Matt. 6:24].

The words, the guidance, at times seems painfully harsh, even wrong.  Yet, we cannot deny the very life of Jesus and how He lived on earth any more than we can deny the holy souls that the Church has canonized over the centuries, whose lives were lived to a certain ideal, no matter the difficult deaths involved along the way.  [Am not referring to physical death of the earthly body, but of the many mental, emotional, and spiritual types of dying that occur in increasingly painful aspects.  Rather, the deaths are of the soul being purified and emptied in order to come to conformity of love in spiritual perfection, union with Christ and in His will, not that of our own.]

When a man has renounced the world and still returns to its affairs or draws near to it, he will either fall into its snares or will defile his heart with thoughts of it.  These are strong and difficult words to most of us.  Yet Climacus also adds that even if a person becomes uncorrupted, if he begins to hold contempt for others who are corrupted by the world, then he will join them in their corruption.

In the spiritual ascent, there is no room for pride or self-righteousness, nor for judging others who are not on the same path or who are called to some other level or pace of climbing the holy mountain.  At least that is what this nothing Catholic hermit concludes from the reading and praying thus far, and the living of life.  

Climacus also gives sound advice on getting caught up in dreams.  He recommends not paying much attention to those especially that leave a person in despair or conversely in some kind of pride.  It is important, or so this nothing Catholic hermit has concluded in its 63 years on earth and many dreams, that the discernment of spirits and of the effect of dreams, is rather a critical skill to learn.  Climacus mentions dreams that lead to fantasizing, and those are easy enough to pick off--if we are honest with ourselves.

As for this hermit's own dreams, such as the one in which Jesus told it He was very pleased when the hermit, over 19 years ago asked if it was truly God's will that it become a Catholic.  Had the hermit dismissed that dream and locution, it would not have converted to Catholicism.  The dream gave the hermit courage to follow through with being confirmed in the Church, even though the actual suffering and sorrows of its life have multiplied many times over as a result of that conversion.

An example of a dream that can lead to fantasizing, is one this hermit had a couple nights ago.  It dreamed it had won the lottery, and a huge amount, at that!  The dream was so real that upon waking, the hermit was working out in its mind (fantasizing), who it could possibly trust to help it deal with so much money.  What financial person, what attorney?  It decided upon two trusted ones, and then considered how it could have some kind of outreach to help the world with the funds.  

Soon it was thinking what a cross to bear, and how many people would misuse the funds, or those people who had not been loyal would be considering themselves as good friends to the hermit, after all!  But mostly, the hermit considered being able to walk away from this hermitage, and to hire someone to finish it and donate it to a single mother or to some group so it could be a hermitage experience if anyone wanted. 

Another night the hermit had a dream of looking at a house, dated but yet livable, with the thought of purchasing and moving there.  It was not a house it had seen in this life, but in the dream there were some drawbacks in practical ways, but the hermit was wanting to just have a place that is neat, clean and functional.  Then it realized it did not have any means to buy it or to move there.  A person from the hermit's past who has a husband and has financial security, popped into the dream and was making herself very confident and rather triumphant that they were going to buy the house, and even mentioned some famous, wealthy person who owned the house next to it!

So, we see how such dreams as these reflect the hermit's current weariness and desire to flee temporal hardship as well as the dying it is facing on many levels.  See how the fantasizing can enter in?  All the same, when the hermit noticed in civilization that a lottery amount was over the high amount in the one dream, it--God forgive and have mercy!--purchased a ticket!  This nothing Catholic hermit is not nearly ready to renounce the world, at least not nearly to the degree necessary for holiness!

One must keep a sense of humor and be without guile in admitting its weaknesses.  Yes, perhaps this hermit has not the will nor the desire enough to rise into greater death in order to be brought through the mourning into the laughter of the heart.  But, it will still pray for such desire and strength of will.  As the hermit mentioned to the adult daughter, it does take much faith and trust in what holy people have written and what Jesus says in Scriptures, to let go of what the world tells us.  That can include the Christian world which in certain mindsets, highlights the softer and easier parts of Jesus' teachings and life.  His mercy and love are truth, but the reality of unrepentant sin and its consequences are truth, as well.

And, as to another note on dreams, had the hermit not dismissed some of them, it would not have ended up in such a terrible location with the previous neighbors of which the hermit was warned in a dream, the night before the house foundation was to be laid.  Could have gotten out of that one!  Yet, more often than not, the warnings at other times have come more after the fact.  It is more as if the Lord allows the rose-colored glasses to remain long enough to get the hermit to where He wills it, even though it is going to mean much suffering.  But He has the hermit planted in its new place of assignment for prayer and some soul or other to be helped before the hermit realizes the cost; otherwise the hermit would be like Jonah and try avoiding Ninevah....

Enough of all this.  There is more to share of John Climacus' guidance which always flows from and adheres to Scripture.  There is good to share about why ponder death and how that will help the soul to not sin as much.  There is good to share about mourning and tears.   There is good to share about the differing paths of the theologian compared to the hermit.

God bless His Real Presence in us!  Little children, let us love one another and remain in His Love!

[Note:  This laptop has yet again had its same old issues, and for the fourth time is going into repair.  It is allowed and willed by God--yes such a detail in the temporal for God is in all details--and probably good for this hermit to have a break from as much internet or writing.  Will attempt writing on an iPad.  Yes, at some point, will the good Lord help this hermit all the more detach from words?]

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