Seeking Angels Unaware

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Glancing through the unread books that litter too many shelves in my house, I found this one. Leafing through the pages, I found some insights worthy of my attention. Likely it will be next on the list after Dallas Willard.

from A Tree Full of Angels: Seeking the Holy in the Ordinary
Macrina Weiderkehr

I am concerned about he many people today who are lured to extraordinary spiritual phenomena that are manifested, it seems to me, in sensational ways. Stories abound about visions and trances, weeping statues, rosaries turning gold. Celestial beings are emerging everywhere, and angels are in danger of becoming trendy. The fast pace of our lives makes it difficult for us to find grace in the present moment, and when the simple gifts at our fingertips cease to nourish us, we have a tendency to crave the sensational.

A second concern is this: As we pine for angels and the otherworldly, there is the danger of missing a precious aspect of Christiianity. We are an incarnational people. The Word was made flesh in our midst. We are rooted in an earth that God has proclaimed good. Here on this good earth we have become flesh with the seed fo God hidden in us. THe greatest of all visions is to see Christ, indeed, to see God, in the frail and glorious human family of the world.

Too easily I tend to dismiss the everyday, the very essence of God's speech to us. How often have I overlooked His direct word to me in the events of the day, seeking extraordinary guidance by a word, a sign, by bible roulette? I cast about seeking God, and He is right there before my eyes. I need only open them and see His Will displayed in every event, in every action of the day. I numb myself to the world, buying into the Manichean tendency to separate the spiritual (=good) and the material (=bad). Although I know better, I cannot seem to overcome my naturally dichotomous mind. I know the spiritual is good, and that good must have an opposite--the opposite of spiritual is material and the opposite of good is bad. But I deceive myself with the facile syllogism. The reality is that spiritual does not mean necessarily good. Satan and his fallen angels belong the spiritual. Hence, the dichotomy is false; and yet it is embedded. Nevertheless, there are moments when God's sense breaks through and I am enfolded in an epiphany of His revelation in the goodness of the world around me. Hence, the need to open my eyes and to be continual enfolded in the events He has caused to be my life. To learn once again what it is to rejoice in the goodness of the world. To become, in this sense, the litle child for whom all things are wonder and light.

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Dear Steven:
That "material = bad" is always spoken of as "Manichean" by those who wish to make a heresy of the concept. But it is also a central Neoplatonic idea that the material world is, if not bad, at least a hindrance:
"The quest and will of the soul are not pointed directly towards freedom from this sphere; the reason which disciplines away our concern about his life has no fundamental quarrel with things of this order; it merely resents their interference; essentially all the aspiration is not so much away from evil as towards the soul's highest and noblest; this attained, all is won and there is rest--and this is the veritably willed state of life. There can be no such thing as 'willing' the acquirement of necessities, if will is to be taken in its strict sense, and not misapplied to mere recognition of need.
--Plotinus, Ennead 46:4 True Happiness
Such ideas come to Plotinus from Socrates, through Plato and Aristotle, who influenced St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas...St. Paul belongs in that list somewhere, too. But I can't pinpoint quite where.

All best,

Dear Rob,

Yes, but "bad" and "a hindrance" are a world apart. St. John of the Cross teaches more precisely that it isn't the things of the world that are a hindrance so much as our attachment to them. Thus it is our relationship to them more than the things themselves that could be a hindrance, and yet it is also a substantial help. And ultimately we rely upon the primary biblical revelation of Genesis. When the Lord God looked at all that He had done He said, "It is good."

So, while I'm not diagreeing with the neoplatonists, I prefer the thought that all creation is good, it is a matter of our attitudes toward it that need to be substantially adjusted.





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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on August 26, 2004 6:51 AM.

Prayer and Praise--26 August 2004--Week 21 Ordinary Time was the previous entry in this blog.

From the Epistle of the Joy of the Lord--II is the next entry in this blog.

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