Yesterday's Gospel in the Mass readings of the Living Word cannot be more explicit. And this is where and how I, a small dot of a nothing consecrated Catholic hermit, went wrong in my earliest years of tremendous effort trying to fit in and follow all the Catholic laws of minds and created traditions--in a dizzying effect and rather inert outcome.
See what you think.
"He [Jesus] responded,
'Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites,
as it is written:
'"This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
In vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines human precepts."
'You disregard God's commandment but cling to human tradition.'
"He went on to say,
'How well you have set aside the commandment of God
in order to uphold your tradition!'"
Now, I write above that I went wrong in my earliest years in all that effort to do and follow every little rule and tradition that I thought was necessary in order to be a good Catholic. Yes, I so wanted to fit in, even though St. Catherine of Siena appeared to me in a dream and let me know that the spiritual life and remaining in His Real Presence was "not a formula."
But, the zeal to do well and do all the aspects of externals which seemed to bring the saints their results, brought me not to sanctity. It brought me to a type of salvation from the entangling nets of human tradition, of human precepts that well-intentioned Catholics over the centuries have developed into taught doctrines.
And some of it is all right, I suppose. We are a people needing direction and order; and traditions can help warm and uplift our desires for remaining in His Real Presence. But they are not the Stairway to Heaven. They are not even the handrail.
The risk of human tradition is that we lose sight and life in living God's commandment.
Love God above all things and love others as ourselves.
I think this is partly the reason why the more I strove to do all that I was reading about and learning as a new Catholic convert, the more I hit obstacles. Who placed these much-needed, eye-and-soul-opening obstacles in my path--the realization of these doctrines of human precepts?
His Real Presence! Thanks be to God! And I kept hitting the traditions and doctrines of human precepts, much like a rubber toad repeatedly thrown against a wall.
Who can live like that and truly spiritually progress in the spiritual life of which the key, the stairway, the pinnacle is His Real Presence, and the Way and Truth and Life is His Law of Love?
Even when my angel reminded me in firmly chastising terms 9 years ago this month that I was not living nor honoring the hermit life that God had chosen for me and values very much--I turned too much of my focus then on trying to live the hermit life...according to the human precepts of hermit law and hermit tradition.
Thanks be to God that I am not a Catholic hermit by law or human precept! I am consecrated by His Real Presence, my heart consecrated by and in His Heart. And I am a hermit by His choosing, not by any other human's precept--not bishop nor canon law--nor by my own precept. And I also am a confirmed Catholic, anointed by the oil of gladness, a forever follower and belover of Christ.
I am simply a soul whose packaging in this world and in the life of the Church is merely hermit-wrapping. It is how I must proceed in life, honoring, valuing, living the hermit life that God chose for me. And what is the foundation of hermit life, or of any life, of Catholic life, of Christian life, of soul life? It is to live the law of God, the law of His Love, the law of God's commandment.
Love God above all things, and love others as yourself.
You know, I rarely "think" about my hermit packaging these days. The title of this blog is about the only reminder, and I wonder at it sometimes. Would it be more to Jesus' desire to title it "A Christian Hermit" or "A Hermit Soul" or "A Hermit" or "A Soul of God" or "A Soul" or "His Love's Soul"?
So far, Jesus has not let me know what He desires in titles. I think He does not care so much as to the title. He cares that what I write is from within my soul. In this earthly life I am a hermit; I am a Catholic hermit.
His Real Presence wants me to be sincere, genuine, loving, truthful, courageous, to be all in for His Real Presence and His Church. He wants me to live my life according to God's Law and His Law of Love, foremost--not by human precepts taught as doctrines nor by upholding human traditions as law.
He wants me to love God above all things and to love others as myself. That, in itself, is what can become a soul's doctrine, a soul's precept, a holy soul's holy tradition. And that, too, is in my case a soul who is all in for His Real Presence, packaged in the this-life wrappings as a hermit, a catholic and Catholic one, truly. But the Rule of Life is the Word of Life, the Living Word, the Gospel Rule; and this my soul's existence is that of living in and remaining in His Love.
God bless His Real Presence in us! May we live God's commandment at all times, placing our very souls in His Love and Life and Light! May we honor God and His Church by living His Law--His law of Love.
Love God above all things, and love others as ourselves.