Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Sufferings of the Present Are as Nothing...

From Romans 8:18-21 the Morning Office greets us:

The sufferings of the present are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed in us. Indeed, the whole created world eagerly awaits the revelations of the sons of God. Creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord, but by Him who once subjected it; yet not without hope, because the world itself will be freed itself from its slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.

The hibiscus "Endless Summer" [photographed in the front Mary Gardens of Agnus Dei] reminds that while summer seems to go on and on, even the beauty and warmth of summer is subject to a kind of futility, as is suffering--except for the hope of Christ's suffering which sets all free of bodily bondage. Soon, really, as temporal time marches forward, moment by moment. Even though the growth of a plant is indiscernible if one watches, the growth over a day or two or three or weeks--it makes such a difference!

I needed to be reminded of the truth St. Paul reflects in his words. The body droops a bit, mid-summer. Pain increases, the attitude wilts, energy lags. During Mass I was interiorly reminded to take the vitamins and fish oil capsules, the iron pill and glucosamine chondroitin for the joints. The Lord is kind and merciful in the details, what we are blessed with in the aids to help in small ways, that make a difference over time.

Healthy diet (and fasting from that which is unhealthy and unnecessary!), water, exercise in manual labor, prayer, whatever inexpensive supplements to ease some of the pain, spiritual reading, frequenting the Sacraments (daily Mass and weekly confession!), smiles, adequate rest, fresh air (open up the windows, lift the shades!), much listening and awareness to God--over time, the soul grows. The bodily and mental and emotional sufferings of the present become nothing compared to the soul's growth. God's glory will be revealed in us.

I was beginning to have some sense of the futility of the manual labor, the gardens and upkeep of a small house. The responsibility and expense outlaid gnawed at the subconscious until it broke through to the conscious, like the voles out there boring down through mulch to gnaw the roots. Then there seemed little energy for much, and for whatever reason, I purchased a slew of old Catholic books on the topics of focus: victim souls, mysticism, obscure saints, hermits and hermit life, the interior life. All very good books, some scarce, well-written, expensive. The guilt appears like the small, strangely-colored molds that appear in morning, foam-like on the fresh mulch.

Well, there could be worse vices than excellent Catholic books. Will I get them read in the day or month or years remaining? Don't know. Can they be resold to recoup the expense? Don't know. Do they help my body and soul. Yes. Will I some day need money for a nursing home or a knee replacement (or shoulder surgery?). Perhaps; and perhaps the money will not be available. Instead, I will have trees and books.

I could go blind and not be able to read them, or work in the gardens. And work in the gardens will cease at some point, with age and infirmity. So the futility of gardens and books, of spending money, is seen easily; the endless summer of beauty and warmth can become an endless summer of drought and parching heat. It can become futile and fretful, but it doesn't have to.

No, there is hope. And the feelings that spread like the foamy mold atop the mulch have come from somewhere, some actual beginning, from under the surface and a combination of physical, chemical reactions. Turning to God the Father, to the Son of Man, to the Holy Spirit, hope reacts against the futile thoughts and feelings. Christ's suffering, His complete surrender, saves us from futility. We are freed, and His glory will be revealed in us.

The suffering is of short duration, actually, although at times it seems endless, and we do what we can to assuage enough to function. If our souls can come to adore, to love, hope, and then to love and help others to adore, to love, to hope--then we must do whatever with what God provides, to adore, love, and hope.

Sometimes the soul moves into a position of repose. As St. Peter of Alcantara (early spiritual director of St. Teresa of Avila) states, "The seaman rests when he arrives in a harbour."* In some instances, perhaps mid-summer of what seems an endless summer (or winter), the soul wishes to heighten the purity of the surrender. The body may not realize that, except for the suffering signaling a dulldrum, a seeming droop.

It is not that the soul ceases individual activity, but the type of activity is changed. (Do the interests veer from what Jerome Hawes, hermit, called the way of prudence, to the way of Divine folly?) One does not seem to press forward but remains where it is. That is the best place at that point. Then the soul has freed space, from having surrendered, to listen to the Beloved.

*Muller, Michael. St. Francis de Sales.1936. New York: Sheed & Ward, pp. 157-58.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

7:25 AM  
Blogger nothing said...

Thank you! It is good to have this information, for it has been a bit of a missing link. I am going to look in the little library here, as I think the foundress is the same as one I read, but not sure.

So much investigation my mind and heart desired to do in southern France, but the body was not willed by God to do it; and another message was delivered of a different sort, that required return. We are always re-turning, aren't we?

Needed this today, as a touch of grace and reminder that we agree to be victims, and thus should not be in wonderment with the suffering, on one level, yet in awe on another.

God bless your days and nights!

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

8:23 AM  

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