Commonplace Book: December 2005 Archives

How Do We Train Desire?

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Following on the posts below, one can be led to ask the question--how then does one order disordered desires? How can one fix the compass that points home?

Well, simply, one cannot. Grace does it. But to dispose ourselves to grace--there are any number of ways. The boil down to two words, which themselves are a gift of grace--gratitude and humility.

Until I come to realize that I have nothing of myself--that every gift is a gift from above--every breath is a gift, and riches I have are granted by a gracious Lord, any grace, facility, ability, talent, or gift are His first and given without any merit on my part. Nothing I call "mine" is "mine" by right except my sin. All is gift.

If this is true--if the food I eat, the air I breathe, the gifts I exercise in earning my money, the house I live in, the wife and children I have, everything, everything down to and including this wretched body, everything is a gift unasked for. Some turn this to a bitter turn, but properly seen, these gifts are beyond measure gracious. The only attitude is ecstatic gratitude. Yes, even in the worst times, gratitude is the key to opening the door of riches and grace. I cannot begin to be transformed until I leave off self and self-aggrandizement and turn to Him who is the source of all.

Thus humility and gratitude walk hand-in-hand. When I know am I nothing and nothing I have comes to me through my own efforts, but rather through grace, what can I do but be grateful for everything. And in this gratitude is the beginning of the deepest love. True, human gratitude can sour and become a burden; however, God does not Lord it over us. He does not constantly remind me of how great He is and how small I am. He doesn't constantly crow about how wonderful He is and how small I am. Indeed, He calls me time and again one of His own. I am His dearly beloved child. I am the weaned child, rocked on the breast of the Father (psalm 131). I am loved as if I were His only child. Indeed, each of us is loved with the same prodigality.

When I consider how You say that Your delights are with the children of teh earth, my soul rejoices greatly. O Lord of heaven and erth, what words athese are that no sinner might be wanting in trust! St. Teresa of Avila

His delights are with us! There is no comment, no explanation, no set of words that pierces to the heart of delight centered in those words. You may look each morning in the mirror and say, "You are well and truly the beloved of God--at once one of many and the sole point of all his attention."

God delights in us.
Delights in us--rejoices in us.
As I delight in all the antics of my young son,
so God delights in us--
He is swift to forgive and rich in lovingkindness--
deserving or not, each person is loved as the only person,
each child is loved as an only child.

God's delight is with His people,
to be among them, to be loved by them,
to be present.

God's love knows no bounds
His embrace is limitless
overcoming even our own self-doubt
and our worthlessness.

What have I done to have such a Father?
Nothing--He made me and I am His.\
And He whispers to me:

Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm:
for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave:
the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.

Song of Songs 8:6

Thank you, Lord. Thank you. I wait for you now--hasten and do not tarry. Come Lord Jesus!

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Gifts of the Season

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My Carmelite prayer partner brought me a Christmas gift yesterday--and miraculously, if you can imagine this, she managed to find two books I did not already own. One of these is the subject of today's blog.

from Sermon in a Sentence: Volume 4--St. Teresa of Avila

Our most sacred King has still much to give. He would never want to do anything else than give if He could find receivers. And as I have said often-I want you never to forget daughters--the Lord is never content with giving us as little as we desire.

This quotation followed so beautifully on some things I had written last week that it leapt off the page at me.

God is never content to give us as little as we desire. So we needn't desire all and everything all at once to attain to the store of riches He has for us. Rather we grow into desire. We desire a little, and God rewards us richly, He is the Father of the prodigal, ready at a moment to welcome us home, to invite us in, to ask us to stay.

Of course, we often refuse His hospitality, not realizing our own poverty, our own selfishness. We may say a courteous thank you and back out of the throneroom and return to our own business. Nevertheless, God is not a God who sits on His magnificent throne and waits for us. He is the God of Glory who races after us--not content to give as He has gotten, but ready to shower us in all good things.

Desire is the key. Human desire is the faulty arrow that points home. It is a compass in a shaky hand and all too often, the Devil brings a lodestone near--so the needle is not always reliable. But once our heart is set on the Desire of the Ages, that needle in rock solid--it point home, and only to home. The measure of our desire is infintesimal compared with God's desire for us. Time and again--the prodigal son, the shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine for the one, the Father who gave us Incarnate Love--we are reminded of His love for us. We are "the apple of his eye." He is our beloved and we are His.

But God is not content to love as we love. Even a slight motion will bring us into his enduring embrace. He will not force Himself on us, but given the slightest opening, He will overwhelm us with grace.

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Wisdom from George Strait

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You may not like country music, but there aren't very many places that you get God-talk as clear and unencumbered as this:

Last night I dreamed I died and stood outside those pearly gates.
When suddenly I realized there must be some mistake.
If they know half the things I've done, they'll never let me in.
And then somewhere from the other side I heard these words again.

And he said, "Let me tell you a secret about a father's love,
A secret that my daddy said was just between us."
He said, "Daddies don't just love their children every now and then.
It's a love without end, amen, it's a love without end, amen."

There is something wonderful about being able to hear this kind of thing outside of a Christian music station. I don't know George Strait, I don't know his life, and I don't know if he lives up to the credo of the song--but then, few people I know live up to the words they sing in praise of God.

God is a Father whose love is never-ending, whose passion for us extended to the passion of His own son. He is endlessly giving and forgiving. We all know that. The tenderness of a endlessly patient father.

How nice to hear it sung out long and loud in places unexpected!

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Commonplace Book category from December 2005.

Commonplace Book: November 2005 is the previous archive.

Commonplace Book: January 2006 is the next archive.

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