Spiritual Direction and Reading: October 2002 Archives

Jewels in the Reliquary I


Jewels in the Reliquary

I was thinking about prayer, dryness, and trials. Why is life so difficult for so many people? And why are there so many ways for life to be difficult? Why so many trials?

An analogy--we are all gems of God's creation--jewels in the rough. We are all significantly flawed as well. The flaw is different, just as each person is different. When a jewel cutter encounters a stone with a flaw there are two choices--recut the stone or discard it.

God will not willingly discard any stone. We choose that for ourselves. So the only alternative is that the stone must be recut. This requires work with hammer, chisel, saw, and grinder, depending on the type of stone. In addition, we resist the Stone Cutter, we vibrate, buck, and shift, so that He is constantly having to recut and reshape.

We will know when we get to heaven the extent of that recut by the size of the jewel that we are. Great saints who started early and ended quickly, St. Thérèse for example, are huge stones that put the Hope Diamond to shame. We are such that the diamonds in most women's wedding rings will be far larger than we.

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I Am and Wish Always


I Am and Wish Always to be . . .

I am and wish always to be a true son of the Church. All that I say or do I wish to be in conformity with Her teachings. Where I stray, I pray for the conviction of the Holy Spirit to bring me back. However, in all that I say, do, or otherwise make public, I wish always to express Her mind in the issue and I submit all matters of faith and morals to her judgments and humbly accept correction when and where necessary.

I love the Church. I think with the Church, but I am a broken, distant image of Him whom I would follow, and therefore I fail. I struggle with a great many things that the Church Teaches. But nothing in the centrality of the Creed or in the understanding of the hierarchy or teaching authority of the Church.

I like this expression far more than the one I posted before. I believe it to be truer, closer to the heart of the matter, and more personal. The Church is a Mother for me--I cannot bear to see those who would disgrace Her or tear Her down, be they revolutionaries or reactionaries. But being human, I struggle mightily with some of her teachings, to understand and accept them. These struggles are, however, my own. And to the best of my ability to do so, I would always state first and foremost what the Church teaches--it is sheer arrogance and pride to assume that in my span of years I could have accumulated sufficient knowledge to refute what she may teach. The Church is my teacher, in my immaturity, I struggle with some of what She teaches--but that is more a reflection on me that it is on the doctrines of the Church. And as I struggle, I pray I struggle toward truth and not toward self-will. To even begin to do this, I must defer my doubts to the wisdom of the teaching authority of the Church.

And I feel compelled to post even this much because so many would deny the teachings of the Bishops. It seems that every time they open their mouths someone is telling them to shut up. See one of the comments (you'll know the one) on this post at Disputations if you wonder whereof I speak. So, my apologies for the abortive and ultimately unsatisfactory attempt at definition this morning. This afternoon I say simply, I stand with my Bishops until such time as they teach out-and-out heresy (and I do not believe they [en masse] will ever do so.)

Later--Apologies Rereading this blog at a later time I realized that it could have been read to have accused the blogmaster at Disputations of holding some of the views I repudiate. That was not my intention and I hope the clarification above makes more clear what I was trying to say.

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Vocation is a Vacation I


I hate motivational speaker lines, but I thought this one up myself as I was studying St. Thérèse, and it fits so well (if I do say so myself). Now of course, I am talking etymologically and not literally, but every vocation is in fact a call to vacation. And what primarily we must vacate is our notion of self and our self-centered universe.

We construct certain realities by the masks we wear--father, spouse, teacher, worker, boss, etc. Many of us are five or twenty-five people rolled into one. Not so with the Saints who truly sought after God. They were all, to a person, one person. They may have been bishops, teachers, wanderers, or wayfarers, or one after another of these. However, whatever they were, they belonged to Christ, and were marked by Christ in their authenticity. They did not need masks and had no time for the games that go with masks. St. Catherine of Siena went to the Pope in Avignon when told to do so and told him flat-out that he was wrong to remain where he was, period. No questions, no wiggle-room, just simply, "God says get your butt back to Rome, so what do you think you're doing?" Mother Teresa went to a national prayer breakfast and faced the greatest proponent of the slaughter of children since Herod himself with a speech about the evils of abortion--no punches pulled--just a straight out, "You are committing a great sin and an enormous crime." Unfortunately this saintly woman was not facing a person with the integrity of the Pope that St. Catherine went to see.

Vocation requires that we vacate to make room for God. And once God fills us up, there is no room for masks, pretences, or anything other than the lamp on a lampstand He wants each one of us to be.

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Fr. Thomas Dubay, S. M.


First let me display my enormous ignorance of the alphabet soup of Catholicism. Would someone please advise as to what the S.M. stands for?

Second, let me say that Fr. Dubay has to be one of my very favorite writers of the day. His works are never easy reads, but they have been, for me, enormously rewarding. That is why I delight in a very promisingly title book reissued by Ignatius Happy Are You Poor. Apparently the first edition was released in 1981 and Fr. Dubay has added enough material to get a second copyright for the second edition. Generally this means that the revision contains about 20% new material. The book professes to be about the simple life and spiritual freedom. I know that this is one of the main themes of my reading--so much so that I have abandoned the simple life simply in persuing my reading about it.

Father Dubay's magnificent study of John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila, The Fire Within must be one of the most profound, but unfortunately not easily digested works on the two saints. I thought about having people read Fr. Dubay's book before we started talking about The Ascent of Mount Carmel but I felt that Dubay's book was, in fact, far more difficult than attacking the writing of the Great Poet-Doctor himself. So too with the remarkable Evidential Power of Beauty and Authenticity. No question but that the good father's books are well beyond the apprehension of a great many who could profit from reading him cover-to-cover. However, they are wonderful, well-written, and quite worthwhile for any who wish to take the time and effort.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Spiritual Direction and Reading category from October 2002.

Spiritual Direction and Reading: August 2002 is the previous archive.

Spiritual Direction and Reading: December 2002 is the next archive.

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