Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A Carthusian's Look at Suffering: Again

There is a suffering in the yearning for God. What this Carthusian wrote regarding suffering is a different "take". It vibrates with the faith deep inside on this evening prior to be shriven for Lent, for the rest of life, as lent to us by God.

Our suffering ought not really to upset us. It is a state almost necessary for those souls for whom this world is too small. they need breathing space, and this world stifles them. Suffering betrays that longing for God in every part of us that remains unsatisfied with itself. So don't mind suffering greatly from this very suffering: God will never lay it to our charge. Try to remain calm, and very still. For this God for Whom we are longing in our hearts has loved us from the beginning, and will love us to the end. There is nothing He wants more than to give Himself to us, and the greatest joy we can give Him is to believe this.

Deep in our hearts we believe this, but we are too anxious to feel and enjoy this faith. There is the danger; nay, indeed, it is the mistake we make. To believe in God is one thing; to 'taste and see how sweet' He is, is quite another. God never refuses the former to us if our will is good, but the latter depends entirely upon His good will and pelasure. The one is the gift we make to Him of our mind, the other is a communication of His own joy which He makes to us.

Now we should--and can--make this gift of our mind to His Mind; but to share in His joy in this life as we would like to, is not within our power. The most we can do is to be thankful for the temporary first-fruits and foretastes that He is pleased to give us from time to time, as and when He wills. We must accept this divine plan, which reserves for another world the final and full possession of the object of our love. This world, is, and always will be, a place of exile and pilgrimage; a desert to be crossed, where for a moment we pitch our tent, soon to strike it again and continue our journey. We so quickly forget this, and as we make our way we do not keep our eyes fixed sufficiently on that Promised Land, where our true happiness lies.

Today I ran an errand. It went on for some time, and I purchased something I didn't need. I don't need anything, truly. One Lent I simply used up all the food in the cupboards as a form of giving up: giving up going to the store. It seems a good thing to do always.

As for being still when one suffers, this is good advice. Suffering is truly rooted in the longing for God, and it is best to long for God without struggling. Perhaps it is the longing for God that makes one purchase an item or two, or more. One thinks it can fill oneself and be satiated.

The spiritual da wrote that he promises to waste less time during Lent. I considered the time wasted today on the errand. Yes, there were some human contacts that may have been good; but there was a lack of discipline in dallying in the store. It is not easy to give one's mind to God's Mind, in a store.

It is easier to give one's mind to God in the dark, in silence, at Mass or in the middle of the night when the suffering keeps one still, in bed. A bed makes a good tent--whether or not it is a bed of straw or the floor, or a mattress on a frame. Mass makes even a better tent, probably the best we'll have in this world, for it opens up this world into the other world where God will grant us the fulfillment of His love, for which we yearn and suffer, now, in this world.


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