The past three weekends have been praying more specifically if am to attempt physical return to Mass. For two weekends had pain sieges so was laid out on this mattress on hermitage floor. This weekend, however, there was no physical obstacle. In fact, the hermit's helper's father said he would be at the Sat. evening Mass; the hermit felt more secure in attempting this.
Could not locate the little sign that in a previous diocese, was recommended to help others hopefully not touch, not call 911, so that the hermit would not be injured by those not realizing the situation of a spiritual ecstasy, a mystical phenomenon, or what this hermit has come to term "the state during Mass."
However, since the hermit has not been physically to Mass for a good long while, it decided to not keep looking for the little sign, as surely by now the state would not happen. And, why even give any aspect of the psyche any hint or reminder, such as having the sign at hand? Rather, forget about it and assume it was over and done. After all, after reading more of Teresa of Avila's personal experience with the like, she found that when she no longer feared having her body and faculties taken into union with God, her ecstasies ceased.
This consecrated Catholic hermit has no longer feared the ecstatic state for some time. In fact, the hermit has been seemingly neglectful of a lot of spiritual reading lately, ever since the young helper started coming for three hours each morning, weekdays, to help--other than when the hermit has too much pain to be up and working. It has been lectio divina (Divine Word of God study, meditation) and a book or two or three of a mystic saint victim soul, a mystic hermit, and some homilies of Pseudo-Macarius.
Off to Mass, then, Saturday evening. There was a hard, wooden pew in the very back corner (other pews are padded which causes too much back pain for this hermit), so that seemed a good seating choice. The helper's dad was not there, after all, but the hermit decided due to the long drive, to remain and fear not anything at all. Surely nothing would occur after this length of time and how woefully lacking in spiritual efforts lately.
But with the lection of the First Scripture Reading of the Living Word of God, the hermit was taken out of itself with the powerful force of the Holy Spirit, the faculties suspended, and the Mass--the stairway to Heaven--continued in all its loving glory. The Mass was blissful in a serene nothingness of all but God. The heart fluttered and enlarged--the wounded, consecrated heart. Then stillness and union and so very much love of the Beloved! Communion in union with God, and that was that.
Somewhere toward the end of Mass or perhaps while the angels yet singing and music playing at the end of Mass, the voices of people and poking began. Concerned voices, increasingly strong prods; fingers gouging deep into the neck arteries, hands lifting up the head. The hermit began to pray within, begging God and its angel to protect it. Lord, you know how much work yet to be done on that old house and am running out of money! But whatever you will--please protect me!
Then the voice whose hands were lifting the head said to someone else to hold the head and not let go; he was going to call 911. Unresponsive person, very faint pulse. Ah, thanks be to God they were not going to let the head drop--the very thing that caused the hermit serious neck injury over three years ago! Thanks be to God! But 911? Oh, no...here we go again.
Finally the hermit was given movement enough to force open the eyelids part-way. She is opening her eyes! Tell the dispatcher, but she cannot move, cannot speak! Send help! So the hermit then begged within to the Lord, and slowly the mouth could open, and with great effort decided upon one word that might stop the alarm: Ecstasy. Surely they would understand that.
But no, the man thought ecstasy, the drug. Then as an afterthought, mentioned could it be some religious thing? Still on the phone with 911 dispatcher. So then, gradually more in the temporal, the hermit was able to say more forcefully: MASS! That got through. The man said it must be something having to do with the spiritual! Then, slowly, slowly, the fingers could move, then the words could come out in phrases. No 911! Am all right!
And quite soon, was able to answer a few questions of the dear people so concerned, and was asked to talk to the dispatcher. No need to come. No one is in need. The man who happened to be a retired firefighter, and thus how he knew not to let go of the head, asked if had ever considered having a little sign?
Mercy. Well, yes, but cannot find it in the mess of the fixer upper, and frankly thought the state would not happen, surely not happen, after remaining physically away from Mass for so long. The gathering dispersed, and the couple remained with a couple more questions, and encouraged a return to Mass the next Saturday evening.
On the long drive back to the hermitage, there were a couple of thoughts. One was--glory be--that this was the same weekend some years ago that the first ecstasy at Mass began to occur. How many years? The hermit had to think a bit: Seven years ago! And the second thought came, more involved and pithy.
Bits of Dr. H's conversation of a couple years or more ago came to mind--his conviction that this type of mystical phenomenon in its power and force of great love from God, was not meant just for the hermit. No, he was certain that the power emanating when a person would be in this state, would be efficacious for those in the vicinity, or even more so if touching another. Could be very healing, he thought, and of benefit to others, and therefore encouraged the hermit to not fear but rather to allow itself to be exposed and vulnerable--yet safe from physical harm by those not understanding.
The hermit pondered Dr. H's thoughts on the subject and considered his expertise in the paranormal. Plus, there was the aspect of his knowing the hermit for years and years, as well as having experienced other mystical events the hermit had, years ago. He was always right then, and he was always reaching through to the positive, to have courage, to see the good that God was desiring to do through the hermit, and for the hermit to embrace and cooperate.
Then the hermit thought of what Jesus had specifically shown and told the hermit over four years ago, after the neck injury and the abandonment by its then prelate spiritual director. He showed the hermit a group of parishioners, mostly women, and a few priests. He said they will criticize and persecute you, but you are to pay no attention to them.
And for awhile, the hermit had held up courageously, continued to go to Mass after the neck healed, and then again after the second shoulder surgery recovery time, but that was when the hermit was being shunned to a point that its spiritual father advised to just rest and have spiritual communions and trust in the Lord. Priests were verbal as to not wanting the hermit in their parishes. See how fear and ignorance of a situation can breed ugliness and consternation?
But, the hermit then lost courage, even after moving to a desert place, far from the hustle of civilization, far, far away. From time to time, tried Mass at various parishes, but the hermit lost the courage to endure the criticism and persecution. And then the pain and the trials of hard life circumstances, increased illnesses and obstacles, kept the hermit in the hermitage, praying and working and suffering and reading the Scriptures and offering spiritual communions.
To cut to the now, the hermit has prayed and pondered and consulted with a couple wise ones, and will put a call in to Dr. H. and the spiritual father. Today when the helper was finished and his father came to take him home, he asked if the hermit had gone to Mass. Yes--and the helper's dad said he was sorry he was not at that Mass, after all, but rather the Sunday morning Mass. Yes, yes, the hermit realized that, and we spoke a few minutes about the situation. The hermit mentioned the thought--increasing as insights do--that the hermit has been selfishly approaching this situation and had lost its way in having the courage and willingness to take persecution and criticism.
Perhaps, yes, the Lord has something far other in mind than anything for the hermit's benefit in the ecstasies during Mass. Otherwise surely they would be taken away--gone--by now, after seven years, after all! So maybe Dr. H. is correct, and that somehow this state during Mass is for the benefit of the people there in some supernatural way, such as healing, even if they nor the hermit never know consciously.
We will continue to pray about it during the week, but the helper's dad suggested the hermit always come on Sunday morning and sit near him in the choir area, or in the wood pew where his family will sit, so that there be no need of even a sign. But if a sign, the hermit would have it be an honest one--not saying "Meditating", but using the proper term, "Spiritual Ecstasy." For, it is true that if one is meditating, if touched or shaken, the person would be able to open the eyes, move, and speak--rouse from the meditation. And that is what confuses, as when people found no response, they forgot the sign and figured a serious medical condition was at hand, requiring the paramedics, fire trucks, police vehicles--been through it too many times!
If a sign, though, it would not say "Do not touch". It would say, "Please don't worry; don't call 911. Spiritual ecstasy. You may gently touch or leave a prayer request." That would open it to the positive rather than the negative; that would be truthful, not misleading. Honesty is the best policy even if it brings criticism and persecution.
And the hermit assured the helper's dad that there will be criticism and persecution. People will say the hermit is promoting itself, drawing attention to itself by being at the most attended weekend Mass, by being in the choir area toward the front--visible. And at first, when the helper's dad suggested this plan, the hermit balked. It does not like being noticed, does not like larger groups, and does not like being touched.
Yet it is time to overcome self, to die to self more, to do as Jesus said and finally not pay attention to criticism and persecution. It must look to the positive of what God might be willing in what many would call a spiritual gift, even if the hermit has had much suffering. That suffering may have come due to the mis-discernment of what God intends and desires of it, as perhaps something healing and beneficial for others.
It is certainly worth trying it out. In the meantime, in the next few days prior to Sunday Mass, the hermit will seek the direction of its spiritual father and also Dr. H. Must ask the experts God has for us in these situations, just as the hermit has certainly called upon Craig and Rusty for construction and plumbing advice--and heeds their advice! But yes, this different way of approaching and considering why God has not removed this state, no matter what, and that He has something in Mind for others, is resonating and falling into place naturally, simply, serenely...and with a sense of hope.
And the hermit does benefit from being at Mass, of course. The love, the heart, the union with the Beloved, being among the worshippers of His Real Presence at the Mass, the Stairway to Heaven, is bliss.
God bless His Real Presence in us!