Thursday, January 31, 2008

Yearning for God

Somehow, the issue yesterday of not remaining, has now been written about in the other blog site. Regardless, the fault has been confessed, and the direction given that one is to remain and listen if one does know the content well enough to discern truth from errancy, and then later question what is said that may need clarification or fraternal correction.

Given this morning's Gospel, it was pointed out that Jesus remained as Light, and he influenced others to good, despite eating with tax collectors, visiting with Mary Magdalene, and allowing Judas to be one of the Twelve.

It is true that if one yearns after God, then one must follow Him wherever He goes and do whatever He does. One must learn to think like Jesus. St. Silouan says: "The Lord calls us thither, in spite of our sins."

To actually know God, though, is what souls really desire: to know Him is to experience His love. Even that does not describe knowing God! St. Silouan suggests, following what Jesus Himself said: Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart.

When the soul sees the Lord, how meek and humble He is, then she herself is thoroughly humbled, and desires nothing so much as the humility of Christ. And however long the soul may live on earth, she will always desire and seek this humility which passes comprehension, which she cannot forget.

But in this yearning for God, which requires humility in order to come to know God, we are told by the Staretz that he who will not love his enemies cannot come to know the Lord and the sweetness of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit teaches us to love our enemies, so that the soul pities them as if they were her own children.

There are people who desire the destruction, the torment in hell-fire, of their enemies, or of the enemies of the Church. They think like that because they have not learned from the Holy Spirit the love of God, for he who has learned the love of God will shed tears for the whole world....

Paradise has need of humility and the love of Christ, which pities all men.

The grace of God is not in the man who does not love his enemies.

Now, that is much to ponder. But it is quite simple, and it is exactly what Jesus has said, and many of us have heard it over and over: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart.

And then we ponder Jesus suffering and dying on the Cross in reparation for our sins and begging the Father to forgive us, for we do not know what we are doing.

A victim soul who yearns for God must also follow along the way of the Cross. The victim soul must learn to love God, and that comes through learning humility--humility enough to remain where He remains. He was crucified between two sinners.

It is the humility that is learned by keeping our mind in hell but not despairing. But that is hopefully explained on a different blog, and humility will be written of again and again.

The Lord bids us love Him with all our hearts and all our souls--but how is it possible to love Him whom we have never seen, and how may we learn this love? The Lord is made known by His effect on the soul. When the Lord has visited her, the soul knows that a dear Guest has come and gone, and she yearns for Him and seeks Him with tears....

What joy is ours that the Lord not only forgives our sins but allows the soul to know Him, so soon as she humbles herself. The poorest wretch may humble himself and know God in the holy Spirit. There is no need of money or of possessions to know God, only of humility. The Lord freely gives Himself, for His mercy's sake alone....The Lord gives peace even in sleep, but without God there is no peace in the soul....

The Lord said: 'Where I am, there shall also my servant be, and he shall see my glory.'

The man who has come to know the love of God himself loves the whole world and never murmurs at his fate, for temporary affliction endured for God's sake is a means to eternal joy.

The soul that is not humble and has not surrendered herself to the will of God cannot come to know anything, but flits from one idea to another and never prays with an undistracted mind or glorifies the majesty of God....The soul lives in the love of God, in the humility and meekness of the Holy Spirit; but we must give the Holy Spirit the freedom of our souls, that He may dwell therein, that the soul may be sensible of His cannot melt away.

My cousin called, and we discussed enemies and that it seems that we create our own enemies by criticizing. But if we do not criticize others, there is love for others, even if others might criticize us or choose us to be their enemies. The creation of enemies can occur only in the mind; it doesn't have to happen in person. So, too, dissolving enmity can occur in the mind, and in the heart with love.

When the soul yearns for God, there is no capability to yearn if one yearns with enmity. The Holy Spirit can cleanse the mind and heart of any enmity toward anyone, in a flash. But this is an on-going flashing, for moment by moment our own sins and the sins of others attempt to disrupt the pure yearning. To know God means to know His love; God loves all souls. God's will is always to love.

To put this into everyday context takes some consideration. The vastness of God's love is in itself humbling. To realize that I have not loved others as God wills me to love others, is humbling. There is nothing of God that keeps me from loving others as God desires me to love. To love involves some suffering, for it is a cleaving from self, from sin.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

More from St. Silouan on Love of Enemies

I find these thoughts very helpful and worth practicing. I don't know why I didn't see it so clearly before. Love of enemies, forgiveness, prayer--all help one to suffer for the love of God.

Now for what St. Silouan says:

Christ prayed for those who were crucifying Him: 'Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.' St. Stephen prayed for those who stoned him, tha tthe Lord 'lay not this sin to their charge.' And we, if we wish to preserve grace, must pray for our enemies. If you do not feel pity for the sinner destined to suffer the pains of fire, it means that the grace of the Holy Spirit is not in you, but an evil spirit lives in you. While you are still alive, strive by repentance to free yourself from this spirit.

The Lord taught me to love my enemies. Without the grace of God we cannot love our enemies, but the Holy Spirit teaches love, and then even devils rouse our pity because they have fallen from good, and lost humility and love of God.

I beseech you, put this to the test. When a man affronts you or brings dishonour on your head, or takes what is yours, or persecutes the Church, pray to the Lord, and say: 'O Lord, we are all Thy creatures. Have pity on Thy servants, and turn their hearts to repentance,' and you will be aware of grace in your soul. To begin with, constrain your heart to love her enemies, adn the Lord, seeing your good will, will help you in all things, and experience itself will show you the way. But the man who thinks with malice of his enemies has not God's love within him and does not know God.

If you pray for your enemies, peace will come to you; but when you come to love your enemies--know that a great measure of the grace of God dwells in you, though I do not say perfect grace as yet, but sufficient for salvation. Whereas if you revile your enemies it means there is an evil spirit living in you and bringing evil thoughts into your heart, for, in the words of the Lord, out of the heart proceed evil thoughts or good thoughts.

If you cannot love, then at least do not revile and curse your enemies, and things will already be better; but if a man curse and abuse his enemies it is plain that an evil spirit abides in him, and when he dies he will go to the abode of evil spirits. May the Lord preserve every soul from such adversity!

Understand me. It is so simple. People who do not know God, or who go against Him, are to be pitied: the heart sorrows for them and the eye weeps. Both paradise and torment are clearly visible to us: we know them through the Holy Spirit. And did not the Lord Himself say: 'The Kingdom of God is within you'? Thus eternal life has its beginnings here in this life; and here it is that we sow the seeds of eternal torment.

where there is pride there cannot be grace, and if we lose grace we also lose both love of God and assurance in prayer. The soul is then tormented by evil thoughts and does not understand that she must humble herself and love her enemies, for there is no other way to please God....

The Lord gave us the commandment 'Love your enemies.' But how are we to love them when they do us evil? Or how can we love those who persecute the Holy Church?

When the Lord was on His way to Jerusalem and the Samaritans did not receive Him, His disciples John and James were ready to call down fire from heaven to consume them; but the Lord in His mercy said: 'I am not come to destroy but to save'. Thus should we have but one thought: that all should be saved. The soul sorrows for her enemies and prays for them because they have strayed from the truth and their faces are set towards hell. That is love for our enemies. When Judas bethought him to betray the Lord, the Lord was stirred to pity and showed him what he was doing. Thus must we too be gentle with those who err and stray, and we shall be saved by God's mercy.

Now, these words are most helpful to victim souls of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. They are helpful to any soul! Just today I had a test that I failed, but the Lord in His mercy showed me how He wanted me to act, otherwise.

At early Mass I was surprised that a priest who has been away, was back. This one preaches in erratic words at times, and is known for some new age ideologies. His intentions are good, but others too have reported the errant thoughts in homilies and in confession. When I saw him, I decided it was best to leave and simply return for a later Mass. Why risk it? I also prayed about it during the morning, wondering if the Lord was showing me a kind of "enemy"--even though I felt peaceful toward this man.

At noon Mass, who should walk from the sacristy to celebrate the Mass? This very same priest! It is a rare instance that the same priest would celebrate two Masses in the same day. So I knew to remain, and to simply be recollected in prayer. The Lord had chosen what He desired, and then here are St. Silouan's words, as well. I am to sorrow if and when this one speaks ideas which are not thought out and prepared, when he talks in a manner of not realizing what he is saying, and veers into saying that which is not orthodox. I am to pray for him, and even though he is not an "enemy" per se, and he does not intend wrong, he at times has strayed from the truth. Rather than leave, I must remain and pray, and be stirred to pity and be gentle. If what is said is too far off, then I may gently question; if he cannot explain himself, then I may discuss it with his superior (as I and others have done in the past).

Yes, it is sorrowful when people veer from the narrow path, when off-kilter books or teachings have come into their minds--or passion takes over when speaking or thinking, causing slips and slides. It is a kind of suffering to bear with them during these times when what is said would be better not said, or said in a different way, or the ideologies abandoned altogether. Perhaps it is a sense of feeling one is inspired, when it is instead a matter of emotive repetition. Sometimes one lights upon truths and repeats those; othertimes a mistaken thought is struck and hammered out--without means of later correcting, for one often does not even know what is being said.

I ought to know how this is, for so have I have slipped and slid at times--perhaps more than I realize! I also recall times when I have been gently corrected and have had pity shown for my errors.

Monday, January 28, 2008

St. Silouan, on Suffering

Some excerpts from the Staretz' writings on the "Knowledge of God" assist in courage and joy of suffering.

"...the Apostles, and after them the marytrs and holy men who wrestled against evil, went forward with joy to meet pain and suffering. For the Holy Spirit, sweet and gracious, draws the soul to love the Lord, and in the sweetness of the Holy Spirit, the soul loses her fear of suffering.

"The Lord is love; and He commanded us to love one another and to love our enemies; and the Holy Spirit teaches us this love.

"The soul that has not come to know the Holy Spirit does not understand how it is possible to love one's enemies, and will not receive this commandment; but in the Lord is pity for all men, and he who would be with the Lord must love his enemies....

"Many numbers of people, you say, are suffering every kind of adversity and from evil men. But I entreat you: humble yourself beneath the strong hand of God, and grace will be your teacher and you yourself will long to suffer for the sake of the love of the Lord. That is what the Holy Spiirt Whom we have come to know in the Church, will teach you.

"But the man who cries out against evil men, who does not pray for them, will never know the grace of God.

"If you would know the Lord's love for us, hate sin and wrong thoughts, and day and night pray fervently. the Lord will then give you His grace, and you will know Him through the Holy Spirit, and after death, when you enter into paradise, there too you will know the Lord through the Holy Spirit, as you knew Him on earth.

"We do not need riches or learning in order to know the Lord: we must simply be obedient and sober, have a humble spirit and love our fellow-men. The Lord will love a soul that does this, and of His own accord make Himself manifest to her and instruct her in love and humility, and give her all things necessary for her to find rest in God....

"To believe in God is one thing, to know God another....

"Some there are who spend their whole lives in trying to find out about the sun, or the moon, or in seeking like knowledge; yet this is of no profit to the soul. But if we take pains to explore the human heart this is what we shall see: the kingdom of heaven in the soul of the saint, but in the soul of the sinner are darkness and torment. And it is good to know this because we shall dwell eternally either in the kingdom or in torment.

"Just as the love of Jesus Christ is beyond our understanding, so we cannot conceive of the depth of His suffering, because our own love for the Lord is so infinitely small. But with greater love comes more understanding, even of the Lord's sufferings. There is love in small degree, medium love and perfect love; and the more perfect our love the more perfect our knowledge."

I admit that I am trying to practice greater love of all peoples, especially of enemies. To do this, I try to be aware more of who are my enemies. Since I rarely go places except Mass, it is easy enough to see my enemies at Mass. I have people who dislike me or at minimum are wary. There aren't many--perhaps two women who have shown dislike. But when I see them, I think of love, of how I love them. I try to inwardly smile. If I am mistreated by these or anyone, I try to inwardly smile and think: I love you.

At night, I lie in bed usually for some time, as it takes awhile to fall asleep with the chronic pain. I try to think of enemies of the past, present and future. There are those who have hurt me very much. I tell them in my mind that I forgive them and love them. They do not have to forgive or love me [for ways I may have hurt them, or not]; I keep this a one-sided exercise.

Then, I think of other people's enemies--people who I know have been hurt by others, and the others who have done the hurting. This could be a friend's spouse who is hurting the friend, or a parent I saw at a store hurting his or her child, or a young woman who has had an abortion or might be thinking of having an abortion [for this I must consider the person in general, since I do not know anyone personally in this state]. I think of people who have been abused by adults sexually and emotionally, and I think of the perpetrators. I think of any ways in which I have lacked kindness or attentiveness to others.

I pray for all these people and ask Jesus to let me accept responsibility for the ones who have hurt others, for the "enemies" of people hurt to the point of anger and not being able to live their lives in love and freedom of God. And since it is said we often are our own worst enemies, I pray to be forgiven by God, and for the Holy Spirit to heal my wounds and the wounds of others who are ensnared by not being able to pray for their enemies.

Since I have recently begun these exercises, I have no results other than a long-term result of someone I prayed for often. He had not told the truth and had prevented something that would have been very good for another. He also said hurtful things to this other person. I prayed for several years, as this person had become a sticking point, and the prayers changed my mind and my heart. I found that love for this person had entered into my mind and heart without my realizing. Has the person changed? I don't know. But there is love now, and no enemy, at least from my stance.

I do not know how it will be to ask the Lord to let me take responsibility for the hurts the "enemies" have done to others. This has been prayed; and God answers our prayers. As in most of these situations, the change will probably occur gradually, even imperceptibly, but where there is love and prayer, the Holy Spirit enacts; conversion commences. I do not want to exist in torment. No, the peace is too cherished!

If Jesus commands us to love one another and to love our enemies, to pray for them, then we must do this. It begins by simply doing it, and trying to do it with as much love as possible, even if that is but a small amount of love. The Holy Spirit has the power to cause love to grow; God is love. The small seed of love is of God, and it will grow in prayer and in the desire for more love--perfect love. The saints found the commandments of Jesus to be true. They "work". Suffering is so akin to love,: it "works".

St. Silouan's Suffering and Death

St. Silouan's life of prayer converged into two themes. I go unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. And, Pray for people...pity the people of God.

The Staretz commented, regarding how difficult it is to pray for people: "Of course it is hard....To pray for people is to shed blood. But we must pray none the less. Everything that grace has ever taught must be performed to the end of one's life....The Lord at times forsakes the soul in order to prove her, that she may testify her understanding and free will; but if a man does not contrain himself to pray he will lose grace, whereas if he evinces good will, grace will love him and abandon him no more."

"In the spiritual world we see a practice the normal order of things: there, those who are above wait upon those below, sacrificing themselves for their sakes, to bring them to the same degree of wealth, to the same fullness of which they themselves are possessed. The motive power is love, which cannot bear to see the loved one suffeirng privation. Thus the incontestable and eternal Master and Lord said that He 'came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many'. The accepted doctrine concerning angels is that they are a higher form of being than we are, yet St. Paul says they are 'ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation.' The Lord enjoins His disciples to do as He did when He washed their feet...."

In early September, 1938, the Staretz suddenly became ill. When asked if he was going to die, he answered, "I have not yet learned humility."

He remained silent in the last days of his life. When asked late one night if he needed anything, he said, "No, thank you, nothing." In less than a half hour, when checked again, he had died.

It is not easy to minister to others when one is not feeling well. In those times, prayer is important, or remaining silent in contemplation of God, of others, of others in God's love. Sometimes the suffering is the very fact of having little energy, or no motivation or desire to actively serve. This is service itself: to suffer inability. But love must be the motive in all prayer.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Application, Synthesis

Just trying to put into practice some of the concepts of St. Siliouan, St. Francis de Sales, Canon Beuadenon (on humility), the Virgin Mary, and Jesus! It is not so easy until one begins to see all the details--everything that is happening in one's daily life--as practice lessons.

The thought that "I deserve" this (when there is a difficult challenge) has now come to mean something far more rich. A simple look-up of the word [deserve] brought light in a different way: to serve well or zealously.

This is what all the above writers, what Mary, and what Jesus try to explain, over and over.

Today at noon Mass, the priest explained the translation of a familiar verse in which it is said that (to encapsulate) people thought Jesus to be out of His mind or crazy. Well, this priest said the word actually translates better to mean that Jesus was full of passion and zeal, so full of love for the people that his zeal was overwhelming.

It seems that to serve well or zealously, one must be able to "turn on a dime." Thus we get into what Fr. de Chautard penned: the sacrament of the present moment.

A friend met in Avila, Spain, e-mailed that during a winter stay in a warm climate, various relatives had come to visit and being elderly, they so enjoyed the socializing aspects of gathering with this person. The person, however, wants quiet to pray and says the two cannot seem to happen at the same time. The person wants simple peace.

This is a form of suffering: to have in mind and desire one thing, and the opposite at our doorstep. Self-abnegation (throwing oneself down) would be to do as the hermits are to do: drop what one is doing or thinking, and be hospitable. Of course, St. Colette of Corbie had so many visitors that her guardian and spiritual father told her she had to limit it to two hours per day--or her prayer time and quiet would otherwise be ruined, along with her health!

Frustration becomes a type of anger when one's will is up-ended by God's will. We have to to discern: whose will? Does the devil have a will? It seems so. Never thought about it much, but yes, it does seem that the devil has its own will, for it wills to do evil and tries to seduce others to do evil.

Many aspects of serving well (or serving zealously) can be factored. The suffering comes when there is not peace in the choices made and in living them out. Once one has accepted a turn of circumstances willed by God, even if for five minutes, then there can be peace, as one has made the conversion in God's will. One must be willing to drop all that had previously been so peaceful, for if God wills otherwise, then one must shuffle quickly.

Perhaps it isn't so much that we are asked by God to take on this or that which is cumbrous, such as this person being sensitive to relatives who desire more social time during her winter get-away, but rather of a turning-on-the-dime when the two or three hours take place, and to serve well.

Someone has awakened from a nap, and the suffering of lifting and interacting is amerliorated with the thoughts of Jesus' self-abnegation, of His choosing to deserve the suffering: to serve well, to serve zealously. He said that Mary of Bethany chose the better part, and that part was to focus in love, on Christ.

One must now, turn on the dime, and gather the little one, lift up, focus attention, and serve well. The suffering is not then a suffering, but a joy. It is a joy to serve well in the order of the present moment. The only other option is to fight it, to not serve well! That's where frustration enters.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Uniting Sufferings

A friend who suffers a disease of mind and emotions, has been making great strides in holiness! We e-mail daily, and write of spiritual matters, excerpts from books, small incidents and joys of our daily activities. One book commented upon is St. Francis de Sales' Letters to Persons in the World. Each day is another insight and suggestion.

This friend responded to some comments made regarding St. Silouan's teachings on love of enemies and of being willing to, in that love of oneness of all souls, suffer the guilt and responsibility of others' sins.

We do join our suffering with others.  We do it by
accepting our cross and join with others who are carrying
theirs. Also, it it the privilege of the Christian to take
on even unfair suffering gladly because of what Christ did
for us. And it is only there that the cycle of injury and
revenge can stop.
What is written seems very insightful. The final line brings closure for Christians. Yes, the suffering is difficult, but given in the light of Jesus Christ's exhortation to pick up the cross daily and follow Him, it is appropriate that on His Calvary and ours, the cycle of injury and revenge will stop.

In years of praying for someone in the past, and now others included in the circle which grows connected with that person, there seems to be a cessation of the injury experienced. Within the soul of the one who prays and loves, no matter how harmed and injured, a change occurs. Love heals; love truly heals. And suffering on behalf of another is so incredibly loving, that the healing is all the greater.

One cannot expect to begin to suffer the sins of another, to make reparation through prayer and experiencing the wrongs, with great heroism and no ill-effect. It is a process. But prayer does help, even if it is a rather rote prayer.

In one past situation, a mother told the person to stop praying for that one who did such horrible things and continued to cause harm for a woman with children. But, the person kept praying without anyone knowing of the prayers. A transformation occurred many years later, within the person who did the praying. Healing came, a release of bondage, a cessation of the injury experienced. Only God knows what effects the prayers had on the guilty party. Surely goodness and mercy will follow those prayers, all the days of the life of the guilty--and also of the one who took on much of the responsibility, laboriously at first, and then with increasing ease.

One wonders if Simon of Cyrene, after the initial weight of Christ's cross, gained courage and strength in order to carry the cross, at least with heroic virtue--if not with actual, increased physical stamina?

If one gains the spiritual view in these situations of sin, the strength does come, sooner or later. Then the cycle of revenge stops, even if it is the person carrying the cross for the other, who makes the revenge stop or the injury not so injurious.

Suffering in love and for Love, is miraculous.

On this day of the 35th Anniversary of the heinous Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion in the United States, victim souls all around the world can suffer in love for the ones killing their own babies and the medical personnel (and sometimes not!) commiting the actual murders.

We can offer God a sacrifice of praise and thank these suffering infants who have lost their lives and will lose their lives in such horror and violence, for their prayers for our sick and sinful humanity. In all matters, God must be glorified, and these infants who are our soul brothers and sisters, may have their lost lives lived out by us, if we are willing to commit ourselves to the greater good and glory of God in love and suffering, in all our thoughts, words and deeds.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Some Prayers Fr. Amorth, Exorcist, Recommends

Seemed as well to share these prayers from Fr. Gabriel Amorth's book. If even one person reads this or is concerned for the desperate soul who left a comment, then one more prayer the better.
Certainly, we can pray to God for help and deliverance, but these prayers are obviously proven efficacious, or Fr. Amorth would not have included them in his book.

I pray them as I type, and ask God to deliver all evil forces that have attached to souls of the earth--past, present and future.

Prayer for Deliverance

My Lord, you are all powerful, you are God, you are Father. We beg you through the intercession and help of the archangels Michael, Raphael and Gabriel, for the deliverance of our brothers and sisters who are enslaved by the evil one. All saints of Heaven, come to our aid.

From anxiety, sadness and obsessions, we beg You. Free us, O Lord.
From hatred, fornication, envy, we beg You,
Free us, O Lord.
From thoughts of jealousy, rage, and death, we beg You, Free us, O Lord.
From every thought of suicide and abortion, we beg You, Free us, O Lord.
From every form of sinful sexuality, we beg You, Free us, O Lord.
From every division in our family, and every harmful friendship, we beg You, Free us, O Lord.
From every sort of spell, malefic, witchcraft, and every form of the occult, we beg You,
Free us, O Lord.

Lord, You Who said, "I leave you peace, My peace I give you," grant that, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, we may be liberated from every evil spell and enjoy your peace always. In the name of Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Anima Christi

Soul of Christ, sanctify me; Body of Christ, save me; Blood of Christ, inebriate me; Water from the side of Christ, wash me; Passion of Christ, strengthen me; O good Jesus, hear me; within Thy wounds, hide me; let me never be separated from Thee; from the evil one, deliver me; at the hour of my death, call me and bid me come to Thee, that with Thy saints, I may praise Thee forever and ever. Amen.

Prayer Against Every Evil

Heal, O Lord, all those wounds that have been the cause of all the evil that is rooted in my life. I want to forgive all those who have offended me. Look to those inner sores that make me unable to forgive. You who came to forgive the afflicted of heart, please, heal my own heart.

Heal, my Lord Jesus, those intimate wounds that cause me physical illness. I offer You my heart. Accept it, Lord, purify it and give me the sentiments of Your Divine Heart. Help me to be meek and humble.

Heal me, O Lord, from the pain caused by the death of my loved ones, which is oppressing me. Grant me to regain peace and joy in the knowledge that You are the Resurrection and the Life. Make me an authentic witness to Your Resurrection, Your victory over sin and death, Your living presence among us. Amen.

Prayer Against Malefice [from the Greek Ritual]

Kyrie eleison. God, our Lord, King of ages, All-powerful and All-mighty, You Who made everything and Who transform everything simply by Your will. You Who in Babylon changed into dew the flames of the 'seven-times hotter' furnace and protected and saved the three holy children. You are the doctor and the physician of our soul. You are the salvation of those who turn to You. We beseech You to make powerless, banish, and drive out every diabolic power, presence, and machination; every evil influence, malefice, or evil eye and all evil actions aimed against Your servant [name of person/s]. Where there is envy and malice, give us an abundance of goodness, endurance, victory, and charity. O Lord, You Who love man, we beg You to reach out Your powerful hands and Your most high and mighty arms and send the angel of peace over us, to protect us, body and soul. May he keep at bay and vanquish every evil power, every poison or malice invoked against us by corrupt and envious people. Then, under the protection of Your authority may we sing, in gratitude, 'The Lord is my salvation; whom should I fear? I will not fear evil because You are with me, my God, my strength, my powerful Lord, Lord of peace, Father of all ages."

Yes, Lord our God, be merciful to us, Your image, and save your servant [name of person/s] from every threat or harm from the evil one, and protect him/her by raising him/her above all evil. We ask You this through the intercession of our Most Blessed, glorious Lady, Mary ever Virgin, Mother of God, of the most splendid archangels and all Your saints. Amen!

Prayer for Inner Healing

Lord Jesus, You came to heal our wounded and troubled hearts. I beg You to heal the torments that cause anxiety in my heart; I beg You, in a particular way, to heal all who are the cause of sin. I beg You to come into my life and heal me of the psychological harms that struck me in my early years and from the injuries that they caused through my life.

Lord Jesus, You know my burdens. I lay them all on Your Good Shepherd's Heart. I beseech You--by the merits of the great, open wound in Your heart-to heal the small wounds that re in mine. Heal the pain of my memories, so that nothing that has happened to me will cause me to remain in pain and anguish, filled with anxiety.

Heal, O Lord, all those wounds that have been the cause of all the evi that is rooted in my life. I want to forgive all those who have offended me. Look to those inner sores that make me unable to forgive. You Who came to forgive the afflicted of heart, please, heal my own heart.

Heal, my Lord Jesus, those intimate wounds that cause me physical illness. I offer You my heart. Accept it, Lord, purify it and give me the sentiments of Your Divine Heart. Help me to be meek and humble.

Heal me, O Lord, from the pain caused by the death of my loved ones, which is oppressing me. rant me to regain peace and joy in the knowledge that You are the Resurrection and the Life. Make me an authentic witness to Your Resurrection, Your victory over sin and death, Your living presence among us. Amen.

Amorth, Fr. Gabriel. An Exorcist Tells His Story. 1999. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, pp. 199-203.

All the more, the desire for pure prayer comes through as a good desire, for then the prayer of the heart would be in union with communing with God. It does seem that the words would be of God's thought-flashings-without-thought, but sheer essence of pure love. Would that not be a pure prayer for such souls?

But, as it is said, that pure prayer is a rare gift of God, and so are words less rare gifts of God. One ought, then, repeat with reverence and much love and devotion, these words given as written and spoken prayer.

The Passions, and a Cry for Help

In the hermit blog, the thoughts dealt with stilling the passions, control over the passions, as St. Silouan's teachings deal with pure prayer.

This morning found a comment left here, full of passion. Someone says he or she is under a curse, being spiritually assaulted. The words used reflected the vulgarity and horror, the confusion and chaos of one demonically oppressed, or more likely possessed. The person begged for help to be freed from the torments of being acursed.

Of course, in our externally invisible world of internet, even down to the bloggerhood, one does not typically know the persons from seeing with the outer eyes. But, we try to see with inner sight.

The distortion by evil is as has been considered, quite a suffering. I can note the times that my passions are not as controlled, when evil has tried to infiltrate or when physical pain level is high. Even being frustrated with trying to communicate one view as opposed to another can jostle the passions, inflame them. We humans are passionate beings.

Temperance, the virtue, teaches us to moderate the passions. Meekness comes into play as a subset of temperance and often mentioned as a kind of younger sibling to the virtue of humility.

The comment and plea for help--somebody help me!--ranted in a kind of ungrammatica, desperate, disjointed and crude expression of torment that seemed inappropriate to publish. It could be a hoax comment/plea, or not. I tend to think it worth much prayer, actually. Either way, prayer is needed for the soul who left the comment. With what was written and explained, of 26 years of being spiritually assaulted by the devil and those who hate this person, and won't leave the person in peace, one must simply take it at face value for the plea repeated: somebody out there, help me!

This is the type of work for victim souls of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. There is no harm done if one prays and offers sufferings, even if the request is not genuine. Who are we to doubt? It seems the disciples sometimes questioned why Jesus would be spending time or effort on some souls, such as the woman at the well, but Jesus did not turn people away. Maybe by what He said, he turned some people off! Well, He didn't turn them off, of course; they turned themselves off. But, the point is, that this morning I awoke early, and then chills began from either the pain or some other ailment settling in, and then came this horrendous plea for help, and it seems fitting to ask Jesus to please utilize the bodily suffering for this soul out there.

If anyone is reading this, please pray much for this soul who says it is demonically assaulted--"raped" was the word used. A name was given, but yet a different name was on the actual comment. Perhaps the soul is split in two or more fragments. In my past life out in the world, part of my advanced studies were in clinical psych, and so these illnesses are very real and very horrible to those who suffer. And, in the spiritual experiences and non-credentialed studies of mystical and ascetical theology, the assaults of the devil are very real and horrible.

It is no surprise that the Lord would set this message in motion, for I have been pondering my own passionate nature, and considering how we all are rather impassioned with what we find good in our lives. We want to share it, and sometimes the passions become too intense. Then they become disordered.

So here is a soul leaving a comment that is so impassioned as to reflect disorder; and disorder and chaos are not from God. Yet, the soul begs for help, and Jesus will help this soul even if the comment is not genuine.

Last evening at the Cathedral, the Mass was a vigil for life Mass. After, we had an hour of Eucharistic Adoration. In prayer, I reflected (besides on the fact that it is hard to still the thoughts!), that the unborn babies who have been killed, are being killed and will be killed, are souls with whom I am to be in oneness. It matters not that they never walk this earth. In fact, I considered how foolish I've been lately, in allowing my passion for the path God has me on, to react to the passion that another fellow soul has for the path God has it on!

Then I realized that I must, as St. Silouan wisely expresses, be willing to accept the guilt and responsibility for the women and men who abort these babies. I thought back of any time in which I did something awful, and didn't have to go back far, and realized that these babies' souls are suffering for my sins. Other souls suffer for my lack of controlling the passions, even passion about something good.

It seemed, then, ridiculous to have reacted. We souls who are blessed to not have been aborted, who have been blessed with intelligence, education, comforts of life, and especially with the Catholic faith--should be living each moment in such goodness and virtue--and especially love--that we ought not give way to even the slightest of disordered passion.

Another person e-mailed, and gave such a reasoned view of a situation, that it brought great peace and even more contrition. The Lord does not spurn a contrite and humbled heart. This other person's rational view calmed the sea; for once one steps out of the boat in the midst of a storm at sea, and begins to walk on the rough waters, it is easy enough to see how St. Peter started to sink!

But he cried out: Lord, save me! And Jesus calmly reached out and pulled him up.

It is like the soul who left the impassioned, frightully distressed comment/plea: Somebody out there save me!

Jesus is the Somebody, but we victim souls of the Sacred Heart of Jesus nest within His Heart, and nest with Mary whose Immaculate Heart nests within her Son's Sacred Heart. Together we can love this soul and souls like it who are demonically under siege. In some aspects, souls that are given over to evil, as this one said it had dealt in the occult--might risk being aborted from a chance to live.

We were told last night, as we prayed the Rosary and then had silent reflection, to be willing to do all we could, within ourselves, to respect the life of ALL human beings, and of all life.

There are some prayers that the laity are allowed to pray without stepping into the very specialized area belonging to exorcist priests. The Church is very specific about such prayers, as exorcist priests are highly trained and experienced to deal with such matters. Somewhere in my library room, I have a copy of the prayers that are "safe" for laity. These are also printed in the appendicese of Fr. Gabriel Amorth's two published books: An Exorcist Tells His Story and More Stories.....

I can and will pray these prayers for the soul who begged help and for all souls who have the parasites of the devil latched onto their God-created souls.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Boost from the Meditations on the Sacred Heart

A Carthusian writes more on the love of the Sacred Heart for us--that Jesus' Sacred Heart actually died as a human heart stops beating, then spent time in the tomb, then rose and entered eternal life. His actual heart suffered these stages as a human heart would, and yet His is the Heart of God!

Psalm 93:19 is quoted [this may be actually in Ps. 92:19 if the ref. is the Douey tr.].

According to the multitude of my sorrows in my heart, Thy comforts have given joy to my soul.

Also, cited is Psalm 138:18 [or 137:18]: I rose up and am still with Thee.

Then the Carthusian writes of how Jesus allowed His mother's heart to be joined with His, and this invites all our hearts to be joined with His.

It is easy to forget the reality that when one is a genderless soul, in nothingness, nesting within the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Mary's Immaculate Heart is nesting in there, too. No better place to be when an earthling, than within the Sacred Heart.

The cousin called. We spoke of some struggles her husband is having on the same theme of what others are doing, and reacting. He compares himself with others at work. We are now praying that she have an opportunity to show the Light of Christ, and to help him see what we all must learn to see: God alone; solus Deus.

St. Silouan's understanding of being able to, by love, draw others into that love, remains a heart-expanding reflection. We take all the souls out there, and love them into the nest with us, and by our lives in that nest of the Sacred Heart, others come to nest quite comfortably. If there is wrong-doing or misunderstanding, we accept the pokings and stabbings of the lances, on behalf of the souls we've invited in by the love God has so graciously given us. If we are able to comprehend a touch of His love, and others have not so much, then we surely can withstand some jabs. And we know in our own sinful state, that yet others are enduring wounds suffered in love for our wrongs.

These are the multitudes of sorrows, and God's love is the comfort that brings joy to our souls! All this is the simple work of the victim soul of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Joyfully take the stabs, in love, and know that God will comfort with joys. And that the more sorrows we can bear, the more joy. These truths take spiritual understanding, in faith. Must let them soak in like the sun on the clear, thickening ice on Lake Immaculata. Even ice can be penetrated by the rays on a sub-zero winter day.

In laughter, we can appreciate our own foolishness and the foolishness of others. We can appreciate that love will turn the prickings into yet more love, and joy abounds. We might think we are down, but we rise and find we are with Him yet!

Is there a floor or ceiling or sides to His Sacred Heart? Is love bounded--or is it ineffable luminosity?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

St. Silouan on Christian Love and Justice of Men

Have been attempting these aspects of Christian love--of embracing all in love and accepting the guilt of their sins as my responsibility. I also ponder and accept the fact that there are others out there, living and dead, who are accepting the responsibility for my sins.

Jesus suffers this always, for us, for me. A victim soul is called to do likewise, albeit imperfectly. Just gaining the concept is a beginning! Then practicing comes next. The Staretz' teaching explains as follows.

"...We reject the idea of laying one man's guilt on another, as not according with our conceptions of equity. But the spirit of the love of Christ speaks otherwise, seeing nothing strange, but rather something entirely natural, in sharing the guilt of those we love, and even in assuming full responsibility for their wrong-doing. Indeed, it is only in this bearing of another's guilt that the truth of love is revealed and grows to full awareness of itself.

"Many of us cannot, or do not want to, accept and suffer of our own free will the consequences of Adam's original sin....'I am ready to answer for my own sins, but certainly not for the sins of others.'"

All this can be altered--the pattern of sin--if we today can begin assuming the burden of the sins of our fellowmen. And yes, this is addition to the burden of our own sins. This is the sacrifice of love.

It is a suffering to love like this because it goes against our fallen nature. We begin to de-personalize sin. Then we are open to love others despite their sins, and in this love we are willing to lay down our lives--our egos, thoughts, resentments, self-justifications, excuses, self-righteousness--in order to be at one with others who are sinners as we are sinners. Then, we become lovers.

There is a woman, and she does not like me. There is nothing that I've done other than try to be kind but also to have set some boundaries when she became a bit emotionally abusive. It came down to an unfounded envy, of sorts, from her insecurities. Don't I know about insecurities? I have them, too! This woman is rather known by others to be one from whom to stay clear. It is unfortunate, as she does have some "issues." Again, don't I know about issues? I have them, too!

Today after noon Mass, I held the door open for this woman. I had lectored, and the Mass was so lovely for Christian Unity, and offered for the honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As I held the door, the woman briskly walked by, not looking in an intense effort to not glance at me. Her face hardened and eyes glowering and lowered, she passed within inches of my personhood. After slightly beyond, she fired out a brusk, formal "Thank you." Then followed a woman whose soul shimmers from behind her eyes, who smiled and looked me in the face, and said a pleasant, human "Thank you."

It was much easier to love the second woman. It was a joy to see her in the parking lot and tell her what a beautiful soul she has! The other woman was not in the parking lot, and has she been, as she has previously, unless something major changed, would not want to be greeted. It has not worked to benefit. But she is the one who needs such love, and in the past rudeness to me in a kind of demanding bossiness, and in glowering glances (not so easy when one is lectoring and trying to look out at the faces with love)--and I must learn to bear the guilt of her interior sadness which has become a visible ugliness.

In outer appearance, the angry lady could be more attractive than the beautiful-souled woman whose inner magnifies her outer. But the unhappy woman is unhappy from within, and that sadness suffers her beauty to decline. This soul is going to take consistent prayer, passing kindness, sensitivity to not put her in a position of conversing, and of loving meekness toward her and her physical "space." I must practice accepting whatever it is that she says or does which is unkind, pathetic, rude, and distant. That is, I must be willing to have responsibility for the guilt of these wrong-doings. It must be done out of love for her, though. I must also, perhaps first (I don't know if there is an order or if should be done in tandem), love her very much. I can love her, now better than previously. I have removed myself from a club in which she seemed needy to boss and show superiority, when I was not interested in any tasks or notice. I have not missed the club, good-purposed as it is. So now there are no occasions of sin for her, regarding me, other than my existence, in passing, from time to time, or seeing me once a week lector. I cannot drop out of the Church, after all; so now it is time to gently love this soul and be responsible for her unhappiness as a means of reparation.

Does this mean I will become miserable? No. Thus far, it has only evoked a kind of measured compassion that I do not let show. This would not be helpful to her, if she thought I had pity. For it is not pity but love that I am engendering. I hope, as St. Silouan was able to do after no doubt much practice and prayer and graces from God, to be able to pull this woman into the love of God, through my love of God--and without any notice or words or actions. Holding the door, in fact, was not done for her specifically, as I saw this other woman coming, and a man, and the envious woman happened to walk through first, rather unexpectedly.

People like this are not just one; they are many. So in practicing with the one, I will not focus on the one but rather consider the many out there who are interiorly unhappy or are subject to envy, without their realizing the outer manifestations which take energy and bring coldness to their features. There are many countless souls like this, who we don't even know. But we can learn to love them, and to take responsibility for their behavior, through prayer.

It is difficult to write about that which is a new endeavor, based on spiritual teachings, that have to do with Christian love and the justice of men. This comes under Jesus' asking us to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Friday, January 18, 2008

St. Silouan on Distinguishing Good from Evil

This seems very good, for recently there has been an examination of events and situations which include evil. I think I referred to the devil as a kind of suffering. This morning the confessor said it is a process to learn to deal with the devil, and the devil is adept at figuring out new ways to surprise. But also, perhaps more importantly, he said that it is a process to not personalize what others think or say, and to not react to the stirring that is out in the world. It is enough (and a good) to focus on God.

The Staretz seems to be saying this. The final lines of this excerpt from Sophrony the Archimandrite's book about St. Silouan, are special for those who suffer. The damage caused by evil is effaced by God--removed, erased, as in acne can be treated and healed and erased from one's face with no scars remaining. I pray this for anyone reading, but it is very much for me to ponder and praise God for others who have wisdom to explain such truths.

Now to quote what Sophrony the Archimandrite shares of St. Silouan's teaching:

"The Staretz...held that the certain sign by which to recognize good from evil is not so much the end, which may appear to be holy and sublime, as the means selected to achieve the end.

"God alone is absolute. Evil, which has no original essence but is merely the resistance of the free creature to God, cannot be absolute. Therefore the evil does not and cannot exist of itself but must live like a parasite on the body of good. Evil must find a justification, must appear disguised as good, and often the highest good. Evil always and inevitably contains an element appearing to have a positive value, and it is this which seduces man. Evil strives to present its positive facet as a jewel so precious, or at all events so desirable, that all means are justified to attain it.

"Absolute good cannot be achieved in man's earthly existence: there is an element of imperfection in all human undertakings. This presence of imperfection in human good on the one hand, and the inevitable presence of some pretence of good in evil on the other, often make it extremely difficult to distinguish good from evil.

"The Staretz believed that evil always proceeds by means of deceit,camouflaging itself as good, whereas good in order to realize itself does not need the co-operation of evil. Therefore as soon as wrong means--malice, lying, violence and their like--make their appearance, one is entering a domain alien to the spirit of Christ. Good is not attained by evil means, and the end does not justify the means. Good not obtained by good means is not good. This is the testament we have received from the Apostles and holy Fathers. Although good frequently triumphs and by its appearance rectifies evil, this does not mean that evil has led to good, that good has come out of evil. That is impossible. But the power of God is such that where it appears, it heals all things so wholly that no scar remains--the damage caused by evil is effaced--for God is the fullness of life and creates life from nothing."

The Suffering of Mental Slowness

The young woman bundled in winter clothing struggled with jamming cart after shopping cart to make a long train. We were in the parking lot, she with her task and me pulling into a spot. She waved me in, her standing there in the cold, readying to bull-doze push those heavy carts into the grocery.

It was well below freezing. Inside the store, I could hear her say something. She pulled off her hood: there was a rosey faced, girl-into-woman of perhaps 22 years of age.

Practicing the Nine S' of the Catholic hermit's rule of life, I stopped from selecting a cart and spoke with this young woman--first about the cold weather, and then a bit more. She is not mentally acute; she is mentally slow. She is beautiful in the flush from the freezing weather and exertion in pushing the train of heavy carts back into the store.

I said she will be well deserving of a hot chocolate and a warm bed by nighttime. She told me about her stocking up on 5-for-a-dollar cappuchinos at the dollar store. She was very pleased and smiled. I told her that I will be praying for her the rest of the afternoon, that she endure the cold and the hard work she does. She lit up and said, "Thank you--thank you so much!" I then asked for her first name, as I said I like to pray with using a person's name if possible. Unzipping her heavy parka, she proudly pulled out the employee name badge: Kristen L, it read.

People who are mentally slow have many gifts, such as simplicity and often solitude, in addition to slowness. But their mental slowness brings a kind of suffering that I'd not recently pondered. Their lives are very difficult with the types of jobs they work, such as this young woman out in the freezing cold, dragging frozen-handled carts around a parking lot, stacking them one into the other, and pushing them in beast-like manner, beast of burden--quite a distance and into the store. There, with rag in hand, they are wiped down for the customers. It is very humbling, menial labor. I realized what a suffering it would be to have that job.

But she did not seem to mind. I know another young woman, age 30, who is mentally slow. She walks miles in the cold to get to her job of washing pots and pans and slopped plates at the poorest nursing home in an economically depressed town. She is a bitty little thing, no more than 90 pounds, but she is strong. She also works part-time at a fast food restaurant, sweeping the floors, wiping counters, cleaning up consumer waste. She doesn't seem to mind, either. In fact, she is so happy to have work, to earn money, and the more hours, the happier.
But she has an older sister who is married and has children, and this young woman has suffered that she will not; for she knows this loss in her life.

This morning the confessor spoke with me about personalizing things and trying to not let my writing be affected. He was not speaking about suffering with others, but to not react to what others are doing (or saying) that might not be as God wills me to be doing. He asked me how my prayer life has been. I told him--using a phrase my late father interjected at times--that I offer the "whole ball of wax" to God since my prayers are pock-marked by the devil. The underlying peace remains as clear and smooth skin, but the devil is trying to mar the surface with acne. All that has to do with the on-going sense of evil in the world and evil in the world of the internet. It is rather creepy, or can be. Acne can be medicated and healed.

But then there is this suffering of the world, of mental slowness--not that this is a suffering, but the outer manifestations are so hard, so rough in the jobs and realities of the actual lives. One must pay attention to the sufferings about, and praise God for the goodness of what lies beneath the externals. Kristen L. is a lovely soul. I think of her at night, warmed with the dollar store cappuchino--and by God's touch of her especiality, her life.

The Staretz (St. Silouan) expresses more wisdom:

Because a man cannot simultaneously dwell wholly in God and wholly in the world, it is possible to judge whether a given state of contemplation is a reality or an illusion only after the soul has returned to consciousness of the world; for then, as the Staretz pointed out, if there were no love for enemies and so for all creatures, it would be a true indication that the supposed contemplation had not been a real communion with God.


God is love, in superabundance embracing all creatures. By allowing man actually to know this love, the Holy Spirit reveals to him the path to fullness of being. To say 'enemy' implies rejetion. by such rejection a man falls from the plenitude of God. Those who have attained the Kingdom of Heaven and abide in God in the Holy Spirit behold every abyss of hell, for there is no domain in all existence where God could not be. 'The whole paradise of Saints lives by the Holy Spirit, and from the Holy Spirit nothing in creation is hid. God is love, and in the Saints the Holy Spirit is love. Dwelling in the Holy Spirit, the Saints behold hell and embrace it, too, in their love.'

A new phase has begun. The confessor says to write only for God, without any thought of others' reactions. One must pray to write from the state of contemplation, then, wholly in God, by dwelling in the Holy Spirit, having yet nothing in all creation hid, and to remain in this love. One can behold and embrace even hell, with and in this love.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Carthusian Comments on Evil and Suffering

This seems so appropriate to what has been menacing neighbors in the temporal realm, and we often have menacing circumstances in other manifestations, too. It is still a suffering, and it involves a form of evil, even if a wrong intent or motive in some action, an obsession or malice. The Carthusian writes so clearly on this; quoting seems best.

It is not a question of loving what is evil or painful, but of suffering it in order either to set it right or bring it to an end. That is God's way. He doesn't love evil, but He permits it for the sake of the good He draws out of it. Evil, like all reality, is a marvellous instrument in the hands of divine Providence. We shall be amazed one day--in the next world--to see what suffering will have accomplished in courageous souls, who know how to accept it and bear it out of love. It is the deepest source of true peace.

No one wants us to suffer, but we should love suffering as God loves it--that is, as something uplifting and a harbinger of peace. The world is made according to a plan which we cannot alter: it is the Master's plan. We are only servants, and we must take life as He has planned it, and bring our wills and efforts into conformity with His designs.

Now suffering falls within this plan. It is the way to joy, just as death--or mortification, which is death to self---is the way to life. "He that shall lose his life...shall find it." We are tiny seeds cast into the ground, and we must die if we would live anew in God. There are some verses in the 125th Psalm which give a wonderful picture of this divine plan; but it is not enough merely to submit to it as to something inevitable; we must love it as an expression of divine love.

For that we must be strong. But being strong does not mean resisting what is wounding us to rid ourselves of it. There is another, and much higher, kind of strength. It is that strength which accepts what it cannot get rid of, remaining all the while smiling under the cross. It is not to the cross we smile, but to Him Who carried it before us and for us, and Who carries it with us still.

These last lines seem to speak to a certain issue of which I pray. It is not the neighborhood, but the bloggerhood. I cannot quite be rid of the writing, and perhaps I must accept what I cannot get rid of, remaining smiling under this cross of writing blogs. Perhaps I can change the focus, and I know I will in some ways, for I desire to rise to the spiritual--to grow in self-renunciation and in being within the pure stream, unmuddied by self.

I'm not sure how to do that, for it seems helpful to place the experientials of life to the spiritual challenges and lessons, and thus to analyze and grow. But prayers will help discern this, and asking my angel and some friends to pray and give insights is also a loving means to seek and find God's will. God will speak as we remain under the cross smiling, as He is carrying even the seeming small crosses.

I did at least two very childish acts today. I will go over them with the confessor in the morning, although not the regular confessor who is still away. The Carthusian nor St. Silouan the Staretz would not have done these small things, nor chuckled over it--surely not!

This Carthusian quoted writes of courageous souls who know how to accept suffering and bear it out of love. This soul is not particularly courageous, as has been recorded recently! Nor is this soul adept at dealing with evil; and today even wondered if it is used to the tricks of the devil at all--any of the tricks--or if it will be used to them like the saints knew to be!

But the one priest, keeps saying, "I see you trying. You are trying. This is very good." If anyone with desirous heart and intent is reading this, the message would be for you, also.

As for true peace, this soul continues to be genderless, and nothing, and nesting within the Sacred Heart--even if sort of flopped part-way out of the nest in moments of fright or in childish leaps attempts to leap from the nest. Jesus' Heart holds us like a mother bird's beak gripping its young from too bad a fall. We're still nesting within His Heart despite the strong winds arising, challenging, but really rather natural in the ways of the world.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

St. Silouan on Relations with Neighbors

St. Silouan the Staretz came to spiritual understandings concerning our relations to our neighbor.

We see in others that which our own spiritual experience has shown us about ourselves, and so a man's attitude to his fellow neighbor is a sure sign of the degree of self-knowledge he has attained. Whoever has experienced the deep and intense suffering of the human spirit when excluded from the light of true being, and, on the other hand, knows what it is to be in God, has no doubt that every human being is a permanent eternal value, more precious than all the rest of the world. He is conscious of man's worth, consious that 'the least of these my brethren' is dear in God's sight, and so he will never think of murdering, harming or even giving offence to his neighbour.

The man who merely 'believes', the man with only a moderate personal experience of grace and a still vague sense of the reality of eternal life, will in the measure of his love for God keep himself from sin, but his love will be far from perfect and may not prevent him from hurting his brother.

But the man who pitilessly, for his own benefit and interest, harms another, wh0 plots or commits bloodshed, has either become like a wild animal and acknowledges in his depths that he is a brute being--which means that he does not believe in eternal life--or has set his feet on the path of demoniac spirituality.

"His vision of Christ gave the Staretz to experience man's god-like state. He hailed all men as bearers of the Holy Spirit, of that Light of Truth which to some degree inhabits and enlightens every man. The man who knows this Light beholds it in others."

This is all so very good! Last night, there were dreams of the past, of being in the other location far away, and then of an angel coming in the guise of a priest I know, who expressed some consolation, that it is all right how recent events have been handled; for, I had told him in this dream how strange I feel, and how not living my life perhaps as well as I ought, not getting enough things accomplished, and not handling a recent situation that well. But he spoke words of comfort and peace, of gentleness and patience.

Upon awakening, I admitted aloud in the silence of the hermitage, that if this recent spate were a graded effort, I would not have a high mark. But it is not; it is simply a growth experience as all our experiences are for the growth of our souls, to learn to glorify God in all things.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Suffering of the Devil

Don't mean to express that the devil suffers, although that might be an interesting consideration, for something so evil and sick seems pathetic, and full of what might seem like a suffering, pathetic "thing."

No, what is meant is the suffering that the devil causes. The devil causes suffering in the mode of attack and then in the victim's reaction. The devil is expert in surprise attacks and in knowing what is going to stir the most confusion and terror. This is individual.

The devil can do much damage during the night, for the victim is at rest and in the dark and unsuspecting. St. John of the Cross explains that the devil is allowed into the levels of the imagination, emotions and senses--but is not allowed into the will and intellect: into the center of the soul. Well, that's good news.

But the horror that can be lit in the other levels is horror enough. Surely it took the Cure d'Ars and Padre Pio, and others who had demonic attacks either in vision and supernatural form or in tangible assault, did not handle these with expertise except after practice. Doubtful that the Cure simply rolled over and fell back asleep the first several times Old Grappler shook his bed or caught it on fire. So it is a matter of training, of learning to trust God more and more and to not fear the "terrors of the night."

Or the terrors of the day. The recent experience here has been quite a learning lesson and very good practice. This is the third day that no hate mail or threat letters have come or packets left on the porch. It seems that the adult son was able to stop the letter from being printed; but it is suspected that the paper may not have printed it, anyway, for it would be a written, recorded statement of the newspaper's gross negligence in printing someone's falsified, endangering story to begin with.

One couple has expressed disagreement in not having the letter printed. They feel the neighbor will strike again at some other level or way, or that the other people will still think I did those things. It has come down to what inner peace says, and inner peace says that the soul feels some calm now, and that the greater good is to wait, and to pray, and to return to what was being done prior to this horrible ordeal. So we turn it into a glorification of God, and the devil was quite angry with the progress of the soul in living in more solitude, prayer, penance, spiritual reading and awareness of how to love others as Jesus loves, and to suffer with others--even very sick others who have opened to demonic influence.

In the couple's defense, they are more called to active apostolate so would not comprehend as easily the contemplative reaction. But, the truth is, the detective seems to have done as he said he would and felt: after his talk with the neighbor, the mail and packets would stop. The postal inspector no doubt has been a help in this.

The devil does not like loving kindness. The devil does not like meekness, or of forgiveness, or of rational consideration. He liked it when I was a mess, when I could not pray or read or think clearly any more. He liked it when I was terrorized and gave into te terror. But he didn't like it when I accepted that I was at the mercy of God and others prayed me through this--kind and holy others who prayed when I could not. He did not like it that prayers were offered for the instruments he has infiltrated: prayers for their healing and their souls. The devil does not like it that since the storm's eye seems to have been scattered, at least for now, that we are not exposing the sick neighbor, and I am satisfied with allowing others to think terrible things about me, as long as they do not go across the criminal boundary line. Then, perhaps in time, they will think otherwise, or perhaps not. The devil does not like it that I appreciate the total annihilation of who I am by what they think and wrote and threatened. The devil does not like that I did not want anything of me recognized, no sympathy evoked, no hatred invoked as a result, toward these evil doers. I will "die" with dignity on that point, but I will report any further wrongs immediately, if there are any.

The devil wanted me to move out. The devil wanted lots of things. The thoughts crossed the mind, but they did not linger long. It seems like a very long nightmare in daylight, but it has only been two weeks. The devil would like frantic fear of what if's and what might happen later. One must not do what the devil likes--or at least not for long. Just as soon as one can figure out what the devil likes, the opposite must be enacted. And, then one must figure out what it was that irked the devil to begin with, and do that and even more. Love is the greatest detestation for the devil.

Then we offer this suffering of dealing with the devil, for it can become a victorious sacrifice of praise to offer God Most High.
Strength is gained, knowledge and experience of such matters grow in the mind and soul, people join in to advise and pray and support in the battle, hope is held out for those trapped in the devil's snare, and most of all, love is learned, and God is Love and loved.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Suffering of Second-Guessing

The adult son is going to call in the morning and have the paper not print the letter. I just couldn't handle even the fear of any retaliation, I feared that it had caused his relationship with another journalist in the major city and a national organization to be hindered, I unearthed a deep-seated problem I have with people knowing anything about me or my name, other than the very good friends and family members, trusted and loving and safe.

The adult son is perhaps fed up with my weakness, with the second-guessing I do. An adult daughter addressed it, and said that now other people will continue thinking I did such a terrible thing and am crazy, likened to Jeffery Dahmer, sick, incapable of loving anything, despicable, unfortunate to have moved into the neighborhood, and not a Christian. The other adult daughter has taken me to task in the past for analyzing things.

I have accepted that I will trust the detective and postal inspector to handle anything and everything. I have accepted my fears of being harmed, of having to live even more reclusively in my hermitage (not a bad thing for a hermit and victim soul), have accepted that my neighbor is volatile and plausibly paranoid schizoprhenic, and if I'm not careful--I could head there, too! That is, if I let this get to me, and notice all the little ways she still harasses but within her rights on her own property, or what she might want to say to friends or others about me without making it a public issue or a safety issue.

The local newspaper section editor has no apologies coming out of his mouth or heart. I was going to write to him, but even the adult son said to do nothing. One adult daughter said he knows by now what his printing that did to make the hate mail possible. She said that the only problem is that the neighbors will not know the truth now. No, they won't. But maybe if the postal inspector goes after them, they will; if he finds out who sent the hate mail, they will know.

A friend said that the neighbor's group of cohorts will perhaps always want to believe her. I can accept this. It is the world. The world is suffering from embracing evil.

And I suffer from second-guessing, from analyzing and fearing. But I did also think that it is best to die in dignity, to not be the one who has slapped back at a person who is obviously ill either emotionally or mentally or spiritually, or any combination therein. And the death is unlikely to be literal, but to die to this issue without fighting back publicly. It would take a Catholic priest exorcist to face off with the devil publicly. I will use silent prayer.

And now I offer my faults of second-guessing, of being fearful, of not wanting my name in the paper or anything about me known in visible way. Yes, I e-mailed the adult son in addition to all my concerns, that a hermit is to be hidden to the eyes of men. His work on this issue already has caused the newspaper to be more cautious. And, the man already knows he is not the most adept journalist for he has been in the same slot for 27 years, and now is over-the-hill. Perhaps that is why he wanted to print a ridiculous, sensationalized letter from my neighbor to begin with: a little chance of public sensation from his newspaper section.

I add to these offerings, the suffering of having bothered my adult son with this, of having taken his time in trying to defend me--only to have me not want it, after all.

The prayers that people are offering for my poor neighbors are having great effect on me, actually. That might be yet another great good from this situation. I will learn, also, to not fear going to the mailbox. If there is but one more peep from letter or mouth, I will simply report it and stop quaking, hopefully. I admit that evil is very creepy.

All this is humbling: facing my fears and second-guessing, accepting this is how I am. It is a suffering to offer God in reparation for the evils out there in His and our world. He has created this world and all souls in it, to be shared with us, His beloved children.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

How Did Fear and Terror Gain Entrance to the Sacred Heart?

Fear is a suffering. I am trying to offer up the terror that grips me off and on and mostly on, to God. I know what I fear: my neighbor woman's volatility. Once a letter is published, that defends me but also takes swings at what they did in their letter that was published, I fear retaliation. This is how it goes in life.

Yes, people can say one must stand up to it, must not let these people get away with these things. But now my life is going to be even more vulnerable. What do I care what others think, if they think I did terrible things?

So now I am in even more terror of the unknown outcome. I am going through in my mind all the good that can happen, such as the paper not printing things again without checking, but it seems they have alreadly learned the lesson, prior to the paper coming out with the defense and offense letter. As for other neighbors, isn't my life here pretty much gone as far as being comfortable, in haivng to live next to people who the detective has warned now? And who told me I must stay as far away as possible from them?

So in my mind I go through the worst case scenario. She could shoot me. Someone could come in and beat me--some person who now will read that I live alone and am older and in constant pain. So I also go through how this would be, to be shot, to be beaten, to have a violent death. I never anticipated a violent death. It is a good exercise in ultilmate detachment. I think about all the people who have and will have violent deaths. I practice in my mind being calm, being loving, being forgiving should this situation arise.

While I tell a friend that I feel so sorry for the neighbor, for surely she is quite ill (and there is evil involved, which is probably behind the fear all the more), the friend says that it doesn't mean I shouldn't stand up to the wrongs that were done, and have the wrongs exposed and righted, and that what the paper did was wrong. Well, newspapers do lots of wrong things! I wonder if these friends who are outraged and want something done, would do anything themselves? This friend said that in these situations, people often skirt around the outer rim and don't want to get involved.

Thus far, only my adult son did something, and what he did might have very definite results. He is not fearful, for this is his line of work, exposing scams and scums in the press. But it is now close to home, like 12 feet away, and I am a coward!

The confessor said that being cowardly is not a sin.

Perhaps not, but it seems to indicate a lack of trust in God. Is that not sinful?

So, this fear and terror is quite a suffering, and it is even so just as a suffering of the fear of unknowns, and fear based upon gut instincts of people who are scary types.

One must offer these sufferings of fear and terror to God. One must try to do good in what time might remain, for this is how one must always exist. So this morning the wriitng will cease, and the floors will be swept, a bath taken, water readied for the orchids, maybe mending if time before noon Mass. Pray while doing these tasks, and embrace love as much as possible.

How did fear and terror get into the genderless soul in nothingness, nesting within the Sacred Heart?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Even St. Silouan Suffered for Others

St. Silouan learned to love as Christ loves, and he learned to suffer as Christ suffers. Although not a suffering of physical wounds, St. Silouan suffered interiorly with great compassion and sorrow for the people of the whole world.

This is a form of being a victim soul that can be as painful if not more so than more tangible sufferings. There is nothing quite as exquisitely painful as reparative suffering in the heart and soul!

From the book of St. Silouan's life and teachings (The Undistorted Image), one reads:

'The Lord pities all men,' he would say; and he [St. Silouan] in his turn, filled with the spirit of Christ, was sorry for all. From his vision of the world around him, his memories of the past and his profound personal experience, he lived the suffering of the people of the whole world, and his prayer had no end. In self-forgetfulness he prayed for all the world. Pity made him want to suffer for the people. He yearned to shed his blood for their peace and salvation, and he did so in prayer....

'If the soul loves and pities the people, prayer is not interrupted.'

Another hate letter inside a packet left on the porch has gone off to the sheriff's department today. I have yet to check the mailbox. I don't want to, actually, but I will. The parcel was left while I was at Mass. Some of this may be coming from the neighbor herself. The adult son has dealt with the newspaper editor who claims no responsibility, not legally and not ethically, for printing a defamatory letter that was unfounded and sensational.

My soul must love and pity the people, and thus my prayer will not be interrrupted. The Staretz, also, when asked what is the meaning of inner silence, replied,

'It means ceaseless prayer, with the mind dwelling in God.'

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

St. Silouan the Staretz: on Suffering

Someone sent a site to read more about St. Silouan's life and with photos (and without having to wade through my blogs!).

St. Silouan suffered a tremendous despair, to the depths of the darkest night of the soul. Then God gave him a grace of living in God's presence and being filled with awe of the Divine compassion. For fifteen years he struggled with the inconstancies of human nature and wept when grace diminished.

But gradually grace grew in strength and duration, along with his sense of gratitude to God. "Oh Lord, how can I give thanks to Thee for this new, inscrutable mercy, that Thou dost reveal Thy mysteries to the ignorant sinner that I am? The world totters in the chains of despair, while to me, the least and worst of men, Thou dost reveal eternal life. Lord, not to me alone: suffer the whole world to come to know Thee!"

Yes, St. Silouan's suffering consisted in a sorrow for the world's ignorance of God; this began to dominate his prayer. Christ-like love is blessedness with which nothing in this world can compare, but at the same time it is a suffering greater than any other suffering. To love with Christ's love means to drink Christ's cup, that cup which the Word Incarnate entreated the Father to let pass from Him.

The Holy Spirit taught him Christ-like love, and the Holy Spirit bestowed on him the means to effectively live this love--to take on in himself the life of all mankind. The intensity of his prayer as he wept for the entire world, related him and bound him with strong bonds to all mankind, to the 'whole Adam'. Since he had experienced a resurrection within (or we might say a deeper conversion of soul), he began to look upon every man as his eternal brother.

Now, regarding tears. One erudite monk said that prayer without tears is not correct prayer and not from the deep heart, and would bear no fruit. But Fr. Silouan, who spiritually wept (but not emotionally or with demonstration), replied that "tears, like all other bodily forces, can dry up, but that a mind refined by weeping develops a certain subtle sense of God and, clear of all irrelevant thought, can then quietly contemplate Him. And this may be even more precious than tears."

Today, a different letter came in the mail. I had been receiving hate mail. Thankfully, today none came. I have not wanted to deal with the mail, with the issues. This morning in confession I asked if what I had prayed the other night was not proper. I had prayed, "Lord, I'd rather DIE than to be dragged back out into the world...[of all these problems and deal with them]. The confessor said that it sounded like a prayer of despair. But, I had prayed it quite calmly. He said that may be, but he has seen people attempt suicide very calmly! So I admitted that my motives were wrong, then, in that prayer. I didn't want to be bothered with troubles, didn't want to have to take the time to handle them. It was not a proper prayer.

The letter today deals with something I guess I hoped would be handled, but thought I was detached either way. I had been told that it would most likely go one way, and it is looking as if it is going in another, with the reponse likely to be negative unless I go through more processes. One would involve delving more into the past. The other is not feasible because a choice of the past has no more witnesses. That speaks for itself--that I had chosen to do something without others who knew, and ignored the wise counsel of the ones who didn't know enough about what I was choosing to do, and said to wait. The result is that I am now faced with having to deal more with it, appointments digging through the past, or to simply relinquish the process, and accept something that now I am comprehending does have an unexpected spiritual aspect.

That aspect is painful! I am experiencing the pain of it right now and have been while writing of St. Silouan. And the only conclusion I have come to, is that God may desire me to be linked to this person and another, in a choice made years ago, as a means of suffering in reparation for their sins, without releasing me from the humility of my own fault in so brashly going against prudence at the time. It is sad to see these people thus existing in sin, and what St. Silouan expresses about suffering and being one with others, that all are our brothers--rings true.

Is this God's way of teaching me Christ-like love? Does God desire me to drink this cup always, as I will always be bound spiritually to the one person, and in essence through the one, with the other? Did I not just read and write about pure love and humility being its foundation? Or am I to process through, more and more? Is the greater path of suffering to be linked spiritually, and to suffer the humiliation of facing what occurred? It seems best. Or is it that I simply do not desire the world, and to sludge through even the world of the past?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Beauty of the Ascendancy of the Sacred Heart

The Medieval Carthusian who enthralls my soul with considerations and adorations of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, writes:

O Sacred Heart, I adore Thee as victim sacrificed by the ascendancy and power of its own pure love.

Jesus is a victim, sacrificed. We adore Him as victim--and sacrificed by the ascendancy and power of love, of pure love!

This is what St. Silouan the Staretz learned: pure love.

This is what we all must learn in order to be victims sacrificed, for the sacrifice must ascend and be empowered by: pure love.

And Who is Pure Love? We must be victims sacrificed by the ascendancy and power of God!

Keep drawing into the Sacred Heart; nest quietly within the absorption of His Love! Make room in our little hearts to grow large within His ever-expansive Heart of Pure Love. This is all possible, and it can stretch beyond an idea or word into experiential reality.

Humility is the lining of the Sacred Heart. St. Silouan learned this. We know from the Blessed Virgin Mary the requirement of pure love: humility. Lowliness, meekness, basic elemental earth, ground of our beingness, genderless souls in nothingness, nesting within the Sacred Heart that is victim, sacrificied by the ascendancy and power of its pure love!

And again, in adoration, the Carthusian of earthly yore but present day sharing writes:

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I adore the admirable impulses which made Thee all Thy life a victim of love, and led Thee to consummate it by a death of perfect love. Grant by Thy holy grace, my heart may become a living sacrifice, desiring only to be offered up and to offer up all things for Thy greater glory. Amen.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Medieval Carthusian Makes Victim Soul Reference

Just read this in the ancient meditations book, regarding the Sacred Heart and an appeal to be utilized as a victim soul. Written by a Carthusian monk of the Middle Ages:

Here, O Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thou sayest to my heart: Take Me as the price of thy ransom. And it is here, O my God, Thou fire of consuming charity, that I should say: Take this heart of flesh, and make it a victim of Thy love.

I'm not that well-read and no scholar, but this is the earliest instance or reference to one asking to be a victim soul, that I have read thus far. It reminds one of the prayer of the Raccolta:

Heart of Jesus, Victim of Love, vouchsafe that I become a living, holy, pleasing holocaust in Thy sight.

[A monk of a Cistercian Abbey gave me this prayer to pray, saying it would bring joy. It's been three years, but there is joy now. A woman in the pew in front of me this morning looked back and asked how I was, and I admit to have been dealing with high-level pain but was trying not to show it, but rather was all the more recollected and interior in handling it. I simply said, "Pain--but at peace with it." That sufficed. I could not speak more, as all energy was required to manage the pain and to stay deep, deep, down within the Sacred Heart.]

Peace and joy yet seem cousins or even siblings, or maybe part of the same apple! Can't say I was joyful this morning other than with a joy that I had peace and could remain quite calm, albeit very distant to the world around me.

What does it mean to be made into a victim of Christ's love? What is a victim of love? Well, we each and all can ponder this. Several years ago an Episcopalian friend riled at my mention of being a vicim; so I wrote about the good of victimhood, as our culture and time period have made victim seem a negative, weak, and undesirable label or way of being. There is much benefit to being a victim soul--benefit for all and then some!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

More Practice with Detraction

Another hate letter came to Agnus Dei; this time it was in the mail. It is from another neighborhood family, anonymously written and more harsh but not without the inferred threat to bodily harm as the other had.

This time I thought through the situation again, and re-read the newspaper clipping since it was attached to the letter which was quite nasty. Considering the allegations to begin with are lies, I decided that the newspaper was complicit in leading people astray by printing something they had not substantiated. And these people who were writing the letters, were entering into character defamation, and the one with the veiled threat was stepping close to a legal offense.

So I recalled what my confessor had said that if someone is leading others astray, it must be corrected. I called the newspaper and spoke with the woman who had printed the neighbor's defammatory letter. I asked if it had crossed her mind to check the truth of what the woman had written--and then explained what is happening to me as a result, and the further and possibly criminal wrongs that others were committing as a result of reading what the newspaper had printed?

She felt terrible and apologized. She said she had a funny feeling about it and tried to get her editor and "the others" to not print it, but they wanted to. I told her that the nudge was her Guardian Angel, and that in future she should follow through with her angel's nudge, very firmly. I also suggested that they check any future letters for that column, and make sure they are valid. She said her editior is not in until tomorrow, etc. Then she said the letter originally was to the Editor and had more details. She said, "But we took out your name--!" I pointed out that this mattered little since they printed the neighbor's name, and it was a simple matter for people to find out who was the one who had supposedly done this horrible deed.

Yes, I said that if I did not know me, I would read that and think how terrible and cruel! We have come to trust our newspapers, have we not? We trust that they do not publish lies about commoners just living in their little houses, doing their gardening and staying to themselves! I said no retraction would help at this stage, for it would only incite the neighbor woman all the more. It is obvious she is working hard at trying to run me out of the neighborhood, as she had screamed this during her tirade in my front yard three months ago, which precipated among her other shoutings, my calling the sheriff.

The newspaper woman said I needed to notify the sheriff of these letters. Yes, I realized I did. If someone decides to do property damage, it will be on record. If someone comes along and shouts at me or throws a rock when I am in the yard gardening, then it will be on record.

So I had to go to the sheriff's, for I did not want a marked car coming to Agnus Dei, in full view, and riling the woman next door all the more. Best to not let on that any of it is known or noticed. The deputy took it all quite seriously and lectured to save all letters from now on, to keep the car in the garage, and to make sure the doors are always locked. He questioned if I had any suspicions of the identities of the letter writers, and took notes on the content of the one that I'd placed back outside, the one with the implied threat of bodily harm. No, I do not know the neighbors. I did not tell him I am a hermit, obviously, but said that I an a writer and an editor, which are true enough, and that I live alone and garden in season, go to Mass daily, and otherwise do not know people in the neighborhood. So we wait now, and we pray all the more for the neighbors, the first letter writers, the second letter writers, for the newspaper woman and her section editor and "the others" who jumped on quite a thrilling story that grabbed lots of people's imaginations and attention of a cat a woman hanged from her door in the sight of a little boy--and fabricated in every line!

My cousin called, and when told of having to spend some hours today dealing with this, dealing with "the world", said, "This must be happening because you are praying so much for them, and maybe the devil doesn't like it." Well, already God is being glorified, for my cousin is growing spiritually and beginning to see the power of prayer and the back-slapping of the evil one.

How further to glorify God in all this? Offered it for a college boy who has chronic sinus infections. Offered it for the people who write in their consumer complaints who are so maligned monetarily and sometimes emotionally, too, often without recourse and many already in financial hardship. Offered it for those who are psychologically instable. Offered it for the Holy Name of Jesus, since this is His day to reverence His Holy Name.

And the prayers go on. Yes, even some who read this have offered prayers, for it is the prayers offered since some blog friends have offered, that constitutes the only change which occurred. So, I know the prayers of these others are having glorifying-to-God effect! Gloria in exclesis Deo!

"Take heed, brethren, lest perhaps there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, to depart from the living God."--Hebrews 3:12

We are of faith and possess life. The suffering of meanness and detraction are ploys of the devil fighting over souls out there--souls of those with unbelief. That is all it is. We do not depart from God in this.

"A Carthusian" Writes of Suffering of What the World Offers

Thoughts of the suffering of consumerism continue. Yesterday the elderly friend in the nursing home gave a figurine, a lovely one of a woman carrying two baskets of oranges. I was asked by the friend to name the woman, as I'd asked her what she had named this figurine. She hadn't. I named her after the woman who gave it to me. It is now here as a prayer reminder for this friend who is 97, whose memory is failing, and who is a delightful soul!

Last evening was spent with a holy Catholic family. I laughed about a brown coat purchased recently, with sleeves a bit short--but such a good deal! The fun of it was the interactions with the clearance store employees and other customers. It is a place of interaction. Yes, the consumerism in my life has to do with a phase and process yet, of not being able to totally settle into complete silence and solitude! The hostess mentioned that one can easily cross the line if one uses a purchase for interaction. True. This brown jacket is surplus, admittedly, but so warm; my elderly friend earlier in the day loved touching it, for it is shiny and fuzzy! Someday it will be given away, and yet the poor would benefit more, no doubt, by money now. So I will donate double or triple, now, to the poor! When the hostess went to get my coat as I was leaving, she said, "Oh, you need your coat!" I laughed and said, "I am so glad you said I 'need' it--but I know the truth: I have a black jacket, and I did not 'need' another, good deal and brown that it is!"

So I suffer with my faults. Though, as I confess instances in which I have been slow in figuring out how to glorify God in all things--and of how consumerism is a choice, and of the challenge to inner peace in the on-going dealings trying to get the wrongs righted in using the gift certificate for more Tanquerey books--there is a kind of joy and peace! I tell God and the confessor of my faults, and yet I am exuberant at the same time! He smiles, as there is a joy and peace in knowing that even in suffering of our own human selves, we can glorify God in love, for we have come to a joy in knowing how much He loves us and that He knows we are striving to glorify Him in all matters! And too, we can correct bit by bit or in great disciplinary curtailments, the flights into the world.

Today I figure out how to lengthen the sleeves on that bargain jacket. My soul delights in the people I met at the store, the prayers I offer for them, the rejoicing of the woman who told me about her new job and of the bargain outfits she was finding for her first week at work. The new jacket that the manager discounted even more because the belt is missing, is brown as the soil in which I place my soul, crushed in the reality of my sinfulness, yet joyful in the capacity God gives us to bring good out of all--especially our personal slips and falls, our worldly sufferings.

The Carthusian wrote:

We have suffered, as we always shall, at finding that what the world offers us is only too often an appearance, a counterfeit reality. Healthy anguish! Hearts too easily contented in this life will not perhaps be so hereafter. The world is bound to leave a great void in our hearts--a void that only God can fill. Ask Him to fill it more and more....

We should aim at the perfection itself of our heavenly Father, and endeavour to reflect, little by little, as far as possible those traces of the divine Beauty which we call His attributes. That is the real Christian view of detachment. It is not really detachment, but an attachment. We leave the passing in order to enter into Him Who is eternal. There you have the secret of our peace of soul.