Saturday, April 4, 2015

Catholic Hermit Correspondence: Suffering and the One Reality

Someone has sought information on what does a Catholic hermit "do".  Amidst various tangible and intangible activities or doing, this consecrated Catholic hermit corresponds with others from time to time.  The topics run the gamut of all aspects of our lives, yet always delving into the spiritual questions and understandings we gain over time and life experiences--trials and joys.  We learn, grow, pray for, support one another, and also we reflect upon God's reaching into our lives, and deep into our souls.  

Here is an example of this Catholic hermit's correspondence, shared as a sample mainly because the recipient though it quite helpful.  A good aspect, though, about thoughts, insights, ponderings that we set into written format, is that farther on in our life's pilgrimage, there arise other or additional insights, further understandings.  It is part of the holy spiral, with alterations in growth as prolific as the tiny, new threadling roots beneath the soil, or as the numerous branchings of fresh shootlings of tree limbs.

Dear K,

It was rather a grace to awaken at exactly 6 a.m. this morning.  Usually do not sleep that well to not wake up at 2 or 3 or 4 a.m. with pain issues.  So figure God is giving a grace so that I would be in prayer and rejoicing with you, in your time with M, to start at 9 a.m. for you, there, where you are.

Was it the chapter on the Cross--12--in the Second Book of The Imitation of Christ that you commented upon being difficult to embrace or accept, understand?  It is on suffering.  Find it to be so very accurate--yet difficult to embrace or want to accept because it goes so contrary to how we might want it otherwise.  But the fact does remain that Jesus said the very same things, in fewer words, and also by His life.  I need to remember how He surely must have felt--the human part of  him--when his own family thought He was crazy, and also in His grief in the Garden of Gethsemane--broken by treachery and so much suffering, weeping, and feeling abandoned.  Yet he endured it all.  Even on the cross He complained to the Father, in a way--asking "Why hast Thou forsaken Me?"  

My God!  My God!  We can cry this out, with Him.  I do, often enough.

I marvel at the saints having voluntarily taken on sufferings, though.  But it made sense when the author of The Imitation wrote that there is no escaping--that we try to run from one bad situation but the next can and likely will be worse.  That has been the case here; and I suppose some day looking back, whether on earth or not, I will see how very valuable this experience has been--if for nothing else, the great humiliation and humbling it has brought.

When the pain is not so intense, not as intense as a siege, I tend to be able to handle matters better--even the one who continues to try to demean and strip me of human dignity or credibility, temporally or spiritually, and of suggesting no place as a Catholic.  I can see it as very good, in fact, and so true as to what a twist in perspective can wring out of someone's mind to that which is actually the case, the truth. And also I realize that none of it matters, what is said or we may be judged by some, and can see the foolishness of being by some action of others, or thinking ourselves "approved" or "valid" when in fact, a person may not be (and likely not be) any more than anyone else, in God's Reality.

I do see the great divergence in the Church, though, and it seems no different than what the Jewish priests and people tended to dig themselves into, with their laws and their judging of others.  They so judged Jesus and had judged John the Baptist--other than some who admired him a lot, and of course, many more quiet ones loved Jesus and followed Him--causing the insecure others to get all the more riled.

So it seems that the world and the laws that people make up, sincerely hoping to help the worship or to keep things right and strict, only end up being abused and interpreted in whatever way suits the views of people and their wishes.  And that then causes more discord and takes the very rule makers and rule seekers and those thinking they are abiding by their rules, farther away from Christ and His teachings and life, than what was before.

Today is the feast of St. Francis of Paoli, a hermit.  He was in exile in an extreme way for six years or more.  He was not a priest but founded an order upon his way of life, which was also rather extreme but quite simple and thus freed him to be in Christ more fully.  Eventually, he did ask a bishop or pope or someone like that, to approve his rule of life--one that he wrote later on.  He had many gifts and graces bestowed by God; and for this, I marvel at how then, others can so question and judge anyone's life and circumstances.  

I realize how I have judged so much in the past, when I thought I was securely living out properly every temporal aspect in the Church, before I came to grasp the two worlds of the Church.  I remember Bishop X arguing the point that there is but one "reality"--even if he agreed to concede there are very much the two worlds.  Perhaps it is a problem to consider them all as one; for how can the temporal which is always passing away, truly be one with the eternal, which is of those aspects that are "above", as St. Paul asks us to think--that which is above and not below...or that Jesus said He did not belong to this world below but came from above.

Truly, it is when I get slogged down with the below and the things of the temporal, that the virtues tend to get weakened if not even lost--shot down by the temporal realities.  Then it is the grace of God and that which is of His Real Presence and not of this temporal world, that lifts up, once again.

So perhaps we fool ourselves.  Yes, we do enjoy the temporal beauty of a lovely church building and the temporal aspects of the Mass, or so we think.  We like a good priest and homilist, and the aesthetic qualities that are so beautiful in this world, and that are incorporated in worship.  But if it were not for the reality of the spiritual, the purity of the Holy Essence of the Mass, the one reality of the One, the Being, the Truth, the Way, the Life, the Living Word, His Real Presence--all the other would not have any kind of worth or usefulness.  

The passing temporalities are stepping stones if even that.  But when they become the emphasis, misconstrued as the One Reality, then the actual or One Reality gets skewed and our lives--our souls--falter.  There really seems to be only the One Reality, and that is God.  And the temporal is not a reality but is a means to and aspect of the one reality.  Seems like that, and when I forget that reality of the One Reality, the body, mind, heart, and spirit then gets messed up and side-tracked.

When I can view the intricacies of fitting plumbing ABS pipe and elbows in order to achieve the proper venting for flow of sewer off-gas, to rise eventually out the roof, as stepping stones or a passing temporal process, then I can have peace and a kind of joy in plumbing as the process points to the one reality, for there really is just One, and that is:  God Is All.  And that Reality, His Real Presence, is single and solo yet in Three-ness.  The temporal is an aspect of the One, a symbol in tangibles for us when we are not yet capable of the fullness of the One Reality, of the spiritual, the mystical essence and substance of the humanly, unfathomable reality in His Real Presence. 

Perhaps rather than fearing and not being comfortable with the way my mind leaves and blacks out from the temporal when the pain becomes so intense, I should consider it more a participation in the One Reality, His Real Presence, in His Spirit, or as an ecstasy wrought of pain, of sorts, for I am no longer then tied to the temporal which is passing away, not the eternal, ever Present One Reality.  

There is nothing spiritual about pain and suffering in itself.  But there is everything good and spiritual about it as a stepping stone or a temporal aspect of the One Reality which is God.  And no matter how hard we try, we cannot ever accurately name or create any temporal description of God.

In that sense, we can place suffering very close to God.  In the many temporal ways we try to make rules and laws in order to control matters of God, or create medications to try to manage or control temporal pain, they only keep us farther from His reality--a reality we really cannot temporally control or name.

Oh well.

Praying you and M are having a wholly and holy spiritual love together, today!

God bless His Real Presence in us, and Love in His LOVE,

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