I think the Lord is really drilling it into my body, mind, heart, and soul: God's law of love. Today, the fourth in the Scripture-Prayer for the longtime friend, miles and miles away in physical distance, covers James' Chapter 4. Although there are other aspects of which this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit will ponder and write to the friend, later, these verses on God's law, the law of love, the royal law, keep pouring into any crevice in my being.
"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up. Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One Who Is able to save and destroy. But you--who are you to judge your neighbor?"
So it is, that amidst the world news, this country's news, this hermit's life in silence of solitude, humility is before us, always. Humility is not only a virtue and grace; it is a personal choice. We can cooperate with the gift and the grace, knowing it is out there for us to have and to hold within our beings. We can desire, pray for, and embrace humility...or not.
St. James in Chapter 4 also asks: "What is life?" He then describes life as a "mist"--here for awhile and then gone--evaporated, no longer visible nor viable as mist.
Last evening and this morning I've made a total of ten pounds of Fortitude Fudge. Half is bourbon infused; yet after it sets up, the bourbon is greatly masked by the rich, dark chocolate. Perhaps purchasing some bourbon flavoring will help retain the bourbon taste, plus add in the 95 proof bourbon.
A desert storm is upon this hermitage, and this hermit is storming heaven with prayers of love and fortitude for all souls, everywhere, living eternally and those thus far, like you and me, only sampling this segment of life thus far. We do not have temporal recall of our lives prior to leaving our mothers' wombs; other than, perhaps, when we leave this earth we will realize that our lives prior may be a lot like our lives when we are asleep, and our dreams are akin to experiences prior and after this earthly mist-of-a life.
We will find out, each of us, all of us, as our mist-lives will cease to exist, and yet our souls will progress, one way or another.
All this, to me, is quite humbling. The reality of from whence we came and to that which we go, and all in between--and to think that speaking against another person and judging him or her, is not living God's law of love. We violate His law of love when we judge others and speak against one another.
I can think of many times in which I have done this in life. There is a fine line, it seems, between discerning and judging, or as in reading skills, we call it judging in order to make critical decisions in what we read, in the content, in what the author intends.
But in all honesty and humility, we truly do know, deep down, the difference between critical, needful judging which can also be termed rightful, judicious discernment and that type of judging that goes against God's law.
It comes down to our intention and the condition of our souls. Love is the determining factor, and prudence and wisdom help us know for sure what type of judging we are engaging in, as well as if there is a need for discretionary judgment in any given situation or in discerning spirits.
St. James states as Jesus has taught: Love others as ourselves
Does this mean we do not warn others of some danger or some person who has chosen evil actions? Does it mean we do not speak out against anger, envy, pride, sloth, greed, lust and any number of vices that we may be tempted by in any present moment? Does it mean that we allow hate to run rampant, or that we ignore prudence and involve ourselves with people who are not embracing the law of God?
No, the Lord nor His Apostles nor do any of the Scriptures suggest that we stop using wise discretion. Especially, we are encouraged to discern our own inner and outer lives for any wrong-doings, ill-thoughts--sins! Toss them out of our daily lives! Ask the Lord for forgiveness, accept His mercy, and then move on to strive doing better, always. Love more.
I spoke out to my former bishop and his vicar regarding an ill priest, sinning in ways that were causing dangerous conditions in a parish and diocese. I spoke out a couple months ago to my spiritual father and to my helper's mother about something quite not healthy of another priest. I wrote about it in this blog. I was speaking against another.
One could justify it by saying that one should share with one's spiritual father, all that is in our spiritual lives. This helps our superiors and directors to better guide our souls. In this instance, my director said to not return to the parish. Stay clear. Lay low. Pray, make spiritual communions.
Just the other day when the spiritual father called, he said he is convinced that in time the Lord will end this rather full-on exile; and I will be elsewhere and will attend Mass, perhaps not in a parish but a monastery somewhere. We shall see. As James points out in Chapter 4, we do not know if we will be here tomorrow.
Considering speaking to my helper's mother, when she asked me if I was all right, I could have (and I think should have) simply said that I was not feeling well--which was so very true! I was ill from what my inner sense and soul had experienced during Mass. I was not yet in conscious nor physical mode of self-control when she followed me outside and asked what was wrong. I blurted out, and that included speaking honestly about the priest, which was very much speaking against him.
This example is good for me to ponder. Better to have not said anything about the priest's issues because the bishop knows, the vicar of priests knows, some parishioners know and have left that parish, and those who remain either don't grasp or else they accept and are sufficed. I had tried to later smooth it over with the helper's mother, but instead perhaps it made things worse. That can happen sometimes. Even then perhaps better to not speak any explanation?
The determining factor needs to be based upon if there is love or not love as the intent. And that is so very hard to determine when it comes to ourselves, for we do love ourselves and find it difficult to humble ourselves. (It is far easier when the Lord humbles us, or someone else humbles us in some word or non-word!)
Using the above example of speaking about the parish priest, and veritably against what he was doing and not doing, the first time of answering the helper's mother inquiry would have been best not spoken or at least not in that instant when not in full control of faculties and not having distance from the situation.
The second time of speaking to the helper's mother about the situation, I was motivated partly by love. I can say partly and not fully because I honestly do not know if fully. I'm guessing not because I know that in any soul, our self love is very strong and our desire to be fully loving may be strong, as well.
Hard to suss out the raw truth, in other words--and that's the truth! But I know my upset and prayers and continuing prayers and wishes for so much more for the priest and more for what the parishioners could experience in the parish, is genuinely motivated by love and compassion.
However, I think that some of what I explained, such as the parish seems like a lovely aquarium with beautiful fish, gently swimming and nibbling fish flakes an unseen-to-them-hand sprinkles daily, and existing in controlled setting, not realizing there is an ocean of existence and swimming out into the deep beyond...beyond the glass enclosure of the fish tank--all this was too much to share and even could be insulting to the other who is pleased and proud of the parish and is satisfied.
In this later conversation, wise discretion and purer love would have left off the fish tank description. It would have sufficed to have simply said (which I did at first) that my spiritual father has told me not to return, and that I must be obedient to his direction.
Of course, in neither of the two encounters did I intend to hurt others or to speak against my brother (or sister). I did not intend to judge in a mean-spirited way, or to judge as in the outcome of anyone's soul. Yet I discerned--and could it be that I judged wrongly?--and spoke without filter, the first time and was able to express sorrow for that in the second conversation.
The Lord will determine the truth of this matter, as far as my inmost intention and whether I was judging His Law of Love, or not. I certainly discerned that there is a priest and parish that is not one nor where I am to be involved other than in prayer for all the best for souls. To love, and to love to learn to love is my prayer for all of us.
Most of the time in my life--and perhaps if you have read this lengthy sharing you will agree for yourselves--that when I speak against another or judge another, it is when I am upset or tired and lose self-control over thoughts and speech. Usually it is in situations in which I have held great hopes and loved someone or other very much and then been disappointed in the person/s or situations, and hurt by them as well.
Yes, in another example of which I am thinking, I loved greatly and loyally, and that love was not returned. There was great hurt and damage done situationally as a result. While I resolved to not speak against the other person, there were times that in great hurt, frustration, and injustice being done, I did speak against the person. I spoke against not in love but in anger--even if rather justifiable or righteous indignation.
The result now is not so positive, or so I do not think. Those others who heard me were not uplifted by what I shared, even if true enough in what the person had done. It would have been enough to have known for myself and seen the harsh reality and known for sure that it was best to remain away and clear of that person, and to accept that the other was not acting in love, not someone to be with.
Yes, it seems that when we do speak against others or judge others, even if true enough depiction of the situation or what ails them or what ill-results come of their words and deeds--it is self-control or temperance that is lacking in us. We speak against others and judge when we do not control our thoughts and words. When we do not honestly review if what we expose is to the proper persons or even necessary to expose at all, we can end up not fulfilling God's law of love.
In other cases, yes, we need to speak up and warn others who are in a position to deal with the person who perhaps very much needs to be judged and dealt with. Ultimately, of course, if there is no recourse to be taken, we know that God will judge the person and handle the situation perfectly if not now, later on. All that is none of our business but is God's.
It is not that once we grasp the reality of not speaking against another and not judging (other than if we are reporting to a superior something quite necessary to sort out) that we will henceforth never err again. No, the thoughts and the tongue are highly influenced by our bodies and any number of circumstances that can weaken our resolve.
I guess that is why there is forgiveness and mercy, and our being given the gift of prayer so that we can ask once more to be given yet another chance to sin no more.
God bless His Real Presence in us! Little children, let us love one another and remain in His Love!