Here it is again! The Lord speaks through His Living Word! He is the Word of Life Itself. From 2 Colossians 3, these verses remind us all over again, of truth in our existence, how to live, to think, to be.
"If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right had of God.
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.
For you have died,
and our life is hidden with Christ in God."
Last evening at Mass, the Lord gave me this important message again. Despite my body in higher-than-usual pain, the spinal headache nearly keeping me from the drive to the parish, and with the mystical state impeded with my thoughts, not God's, trying to interfere with bliss--the Word pierced through all distractions.
The Lord needs me to remain focused on what is above--not all the problems, obstacles, and also the various tricks of the devil. He is emphasizing the God-pivot here, and that is to seek and think on what is above, not get slagged down into what is on earth. Yes, I have died--at least my will has died and God's will has replaced mine.
But my own thoughts too much remain. To think like God thinks, in Love and Mercy, is to also think of what is above, what is of God.
And how great it is, also specifically the overlap for the eremitic (hermit) vocation, to be reminded that our life is hidden--hidden with Christ in God.
An amazing thing prior to and after Mass: my putting my own foot down on the devil and determining to not be influenced by those who were bothered by the unusual aspect of one having a mystical ecstasy during Mass, has brought about good fruit. I should not have let myself weaken and flee in the past when priests and/or parishioners were used as pawns of the devil.
Yes, it seemed in my own thoughts at the time that it was best to not return if they were bothered, if they shunned or asked me to leave. But I have learned that the devil pops up again and again until we put a stop to it. We must persevere, die to ourselves, hold firm and fast, think of God and that which is above.
The parishioners here have started to warm in the three weeks--already! The couple who had been kindly, then the next week awkward and cool, have returned to being kindly. The man deflected the concerns of someone at the end of Mass, when I was just beginning to rouse from the mystical state. He put the concerned person to rest and reassurance that I was all right and explained the situation however he wished. It was not for me to know, and it does not matter, other than he and his wife greeted me charitably as I entered the pew prior to Mass and handled the concerned person in the pew in front of us. Victory! All glory and honor to God!
And others after Mass responded when I smiled; they smiled back. When I encouraged people with heart-felt wishes that I hoped their week would be blessed and wonderful--they thanked me and responded they hoped the same for me. The priest is trying to learn the parishioners' names and has mine down with a friendly smile. He remembers that there is still the hermitage blessing to be arranged and will be calling to set up a time.
So there is marvelous progress. A man prior to Mass, when we were waiting for confession, spoke to me. He is new to the area, and we conversed of his adaptation and settling in. I was able to give him tips on dealing with rodent issues, for one, and also listened to his thoughts and trials of unpacking, and of how it was in his previous area of the country, and the parishes he was used to. Sometimes we simply have to lower our expectations in some of the basics and to step up what we must do to keep up our spiritual lives during the week. Really, that is our responsibility as followers of Christ, anyway!
Re-reading this morning the selection of Scripture, 2 Colossians 3, I find another powerful reminder. It has to do with these verses:
"Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly....
Stop lying to one another,
since you have taken off the old self with its practices
and have put on the new self
which is being renewed, for knowledge,
in the image of its creator....
And here is a pivotal point, especially relevant to those situations in which we get caught up too much in the earthly, in divisiveness. It can be between classifications of cultures, races, peoples, groups. The nit-picking can occur even in silly insistence upon fabrications, such as that privately professed and publicly professed hermits are not each and all consecrated in the life of the Church, not that in heaven it is going to matter.
We are told by the Word that we are to "put to death, then, what is earthly." What matters eternally is if we remain chained pawns of the devil or if we die to that which is below and rise in Christ to what is above.
"Here there is not Greek and Jew,
circumcision and uncircumcision,
barbarian, Scythian, slave, free;
but Christ is all and in all."
Yes, this is what the Word of God speaks in truth. If we can but put our foot down on the devil trying to use us as pawns, trying to create lies and division--if we can break free from earthly fetters, we can come to think of things above. We can think as God thinks, in love and mercy, not in our own laws of mind. "Christ is all and in all."
This is the takeaway point for each of us and all of us. While I do not expect it to sink in with everyone, I desire it for everyone and must embrace it for myself "Christ is all and in all" and "Think of what is above and not what is of earth" is a God-point in reality and truth for which we must strive to embrace. Otherwise we remain slaves, divided, deceived, limited, and hindered from Divine Union--not free, not living a "life hidden with Christ in God."
God bless His Real Presence in us! Victory from death goes all to God's glory!