Crucifixion of the Intellect


from My Only Friend Is Darkness
Barbara Dent

The cleverer the intellect and the more fragile the sense of security, the more we are tempted to rationalize until a tangle of interdependent concepts about the spiritual life and our position in it is formed. Its purpose is to protect the psyche from pain and shock. Unfortunately, it also impedes the Spirit's free penetration of the same psyche, so that divine wisdom and will cannot be implanted deep down where the springs of action have their source. A pallisade of intellectual idols is in the way. . .

The roots of bad and imperfect habits can be uncovered only by means of the passive purifications. The vice-like hold of the intellect upon its possessions has to be broken, and breaking hurts. Yet the Spirit, though implacable, is also tender and healing.

We have and hold nothing. Everything that is "ours" is loaned to us for this brief time on Earth. In a sense, these things we have comprise the toolkit God has given us to approach Him. We must use each implement wisely. However, even with the most careful and adept use, because of the twisting that occurs because of original sin those tools do not effectively bring us within arm's reach of God. And we are darting, slippery creatures, like minnows in the shallows when it comes to truly entering God's embrace.

Some of us fool ourselves that we relax and wait upon the Lord. But the signs of our lives show that the best we do is touch the hem of His garment and back away. We may believe, but we don't really want to be embraced because that embrace will rob us of . . . what? We don't really know, but we do know that we are not ready to make the commitment.

Those who are inclined to think deep thoughts and to consider studiously all aspects of any question have a particularly serious barricade up in the presence of the Lord. To whom much is given, much is expected in return. But the much expected isn't necessarily the fruits of the mind. Rather, it is escaping that comforting ivory tower (all in God's time) to total abandonment in God's loving embrace. And it isn't something we can do ourselves. Only God can effect this change in us. We must be willing to leave, but the barricade effectively keeps us in as well as keeping God out. Our ideas about God, about Jesus, about the spiritual life are as effective at sealing us off as they are at bringing us close.

The intellect can lead us to the throne-room, but ultimately it is the heart that makes us children. And we must let God break down our misconceptions, our notions of what should happen and how things should go. We must let God love us to eternity. If we permit, He will draw us to Him and He will help us to go. We cannot go to Him unless we go as children, thus the necessity of dismantling the intellectual apparatus that has served as a conveyance, but now serves merely as a barrier. If we allow it, God will perfect the intellect with the wisdom only He can give.

Frankly, while I know this to be true in my heart, I can't even begin to imagine what it is really about. I am not that far along in my own journey. But I have seen it time and again in the great saints. I see the total abandonment to love that transforms ordinary men and women into Saints. And I want that. However, to get there, I know that I must even abandon wanting that great union and closeness and I must desire only what God desires for me. He must be my soul love. [I see my original misspelling in review and retain it as a meaningful inspiration] Aquinas has shown God is simple. And what is simple cannot endure union with what is duple or triple. "You cannot serve God and mammon." Equally, you cannot serve God and your own notion of God. So I must abandon all of those things--and here again, I cannot do it myself. I must fling myself headlong into His love. I must be carried where He wills me to be carried by currents unknown to me. The prospect is frightening and exhilirating in turns. And yet it is the call of this life on earth. To be God's alone, to have no idols, to have nothing between me and Him. And so I follow the path marked out by so many saints before and I attempt to do the little that my will can encompass. I try to abandon myself to love knowing that only in that abandonment is there transformation. "Unless a grain of wheat should fall. . ."

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on February 11, 2004 8:19 AM.

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