What Should We Desire? In


What Should We Desire?

In a comment on the excerpt from the Venerable Concepcion, one person said:

I can't help but think that we should desire the very best for all whom we meet. That in encountering us, their minds and hearts are lifted towards the Lord. That should we do kindness that they see the Lord. That should they respond in rudeness or even hate, that still they see the Lord. We should not rejoice in the failings of others especially if it is so that we can get our spiritual exercise.

To which my comment is--almost. The first part I think reflects what I believe to be true--we should desire what the Lord desires, we should will what the Lord wills, we should leave off self and be detached, but caring. (Some think this is an oxymoron--but it is not. The only way to truly be loving and caring is to be detached. Detachment is not distance. It is recognizing the sovereignty of the will of another and recognizing the unique relationship an individual shares with the Lord, and it is relinquishing our "rights" and "holds" over another so that the truly important, powerful relationship with the Lord can grow. Detachment is not indifference, it is powerful, overpowering love and desire for True and ultimate good. ) Detachment is necessary so that we will nothing other than what the Lord wills for the person. Now, I believe that the commenter makes the point that the Lord always wills that we turn toward Him. And if we pray for that for the individual, we must surely be in the Lord's will. Again, probably true. Of course, I haven't a road map of the Lord's will, so some thoughts must necessarily be speculative. But there certainly does not seem to be anything of attachment in praying and hoping that a person's heart always turn toward the Lord.

Where I actually disagree is the last sentence, and probably not with the intent of the last sentence but rather with its structure. I will use what amounts to a semantic difference (I believe) to make my point:

"We should not rejoice in the failings of others especially if it is so that we can get our spiritual exercise."

In fact, we should rejoice and welcome whatever it is the Lord sends us in any particular moment because that is His will for us. We should "rejoice" in the failings of others--not for their failings, but for the glimmerings of the failings that we can then recognize in ourselves--our attachments, our sinfulness, our pettiness, our selfishness. So I see this as rejoicing in the evils uncovered in us so that God may look upon them and heal them, and we may recognize our true worth with respect to His Majesty. The commenter is correct is that we should not revel in the fact that others may have sinned, or may have mistreated us (if it is possible to mistreat without sinning). But we should thank the Lord that it happened, and even be thankful to the person who inflicted it, while praying for all good for them.

I am virtually certain (the only way to be certain over the net) that the commenter was not thinking in the direction I pointed and was referring rather to egging someone on to abuse us, wishing that others might fail so that we might be strengthened. In this regard I agree. We should not encourage others to fail. However, I think of Concepcion's statement more in the light of experience. " We know there are rude, self-involved, pushy people. So send them my way to allow me to do good work for them and not receive the human reward of appreciation." Concepcion does not continue into a dangerous territory which must also be in her mind (because I doubt she would have been made Venerable otherwise), which is, and so that my service to them bring them to the Lord. Because then we get close to the borders of another attachment--an attachment to good works that brings people around.

All attachment, even to the very best things, gets in the way of progress toward the Lord. If we become attached to the notion of good works and evangelical actions, we are distancing ourselves from God. So, I suspect the meditation is treading a very fine line, and saying simply--because there are those who will ill-use people, let them come to me so that the work I do go unremarked--with the incidental benefits that they may be brought somewhat closer to the Lord and others will be shielded from their ill-will. In such a way, I can do what I do for the love of Jesus alone, and not look to mere human recompense. But if the prayer were such that it said, "Make more people nasty and snarly so I can do good spiritual things," it would be appropriate to decry and renounce such actions. We should never pray for others to do ill. And you'll note that the prayer is more reflective--not "increase the amount of ingratitude," but "send me those who are not grateful." "May I do all the good I possibly can, and yet may no one ever be grateful to me for it. " Later, there is a phrase suggestive of the problematic, but I read it in light of the previous, "render service to others and to be repaid with ingratitude." I think she is not praying for an increase in ingratitude, but rather that if there must be ingratitude, let her experience so that she may detach from expectations. It is slightly more problematic, but contextually, still on the same thought--let me not seek mere human awards and plaudits, but let what I do be done for the love of Jesus.

I will further offer that mystical language, unlike the language of philosophy, is very poetic and very vague (at times) and thus quite subject to misuse and misinterpretation. This may be part of the reason why mystical Doctors take a lot longer to confirm than those who are more known for their teaching. (Although ultimately, I believe, all true saints partake in some measure of being mystics.)

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on January 16, 2003 8:19 AM.

Detachment as Seen by Concepcion was the previous entry in this blog.

A Joycean Jem [Yes I is the next entry in this blog.

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