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Friday, 17 October 2014

Eden and Gethsemane Six

Sacrifice without pain, without suffering is perfect love. Few have written about this in the annals of the saints. But, one can get beyond pain to sheer joy in sacrificing. I am not there, yet. But, I am being given practice runs.

The saint who reminds me of this truism the most is St. Bernard of Clairvaux, who I have labelled on this blog, the Saint of Love.

Another saint of love is St. Alphonsus. He stated that both his honor and glory in God and his greatest temptation to sin was love.

Adam made a huge mistake. Eve sinned first, out of stupid curiosity. Then, she wanted Adam to sin with sin. She had lost pure love and wanted either prideful solace in suffering or she experienced fear, possibly malice.

Adam did not have to sin. He could see clearly the change in Eve. She was lost to him, lost to God, no longer living in sanctifying grace. Yet, he chose to be with her instead of God. That is called the sin of idolatry.

And, to this day, we call Original Sin, the Sin of Adam, as if he, as the primary leader in nature had not sinned, there would be no Original Sin. God would have raised up another Eve, I suppose.

But, Adam had not yet experienced pain and suffering, having not sinned. He could have sacrificed Eve's company for God's. Adam still was in a state of perfection we offspring cannot understand until we get there. He did not have to sin.

He freely chose sin rather than sacrificing without pain. Interesting.

In Gethsemane, because of the Fall, Jesus felt pain and suffering in His sacrifice. He willingly stepped outside the joy of sacrifice without pain, the constant love of heaven, wherein joy after joy is experienced in true love, and took on Himself the pain and suffering we feel when we must sacrifice something or someone.

What Adam refused to do without pain, Christ took on in pain.

Christ is our model for this type of sacrificial love. Sometimes, when one must sacrifice, one cannot quite believe what is happening. If the sacrifice is the death of a close loved one, one may be in shock or denial for a while. The same is true when one loses the love of one who is loved. Shock and denial may follow.

Shock and denial form part of grief, and these states are now natural to all men and women. But, at first, mankind did not experience such deep movements of suffering and pain.  

That Christ chose to do so is a miracle for us. He took on sin, He became sin so that we can be free.

We do not have to experience the shock and denial of losing eternal life, eternal love because of His sacrifice.

And, He wants to teach us the same. He gives us opportunities almost daily to step out of complacency and accept suffering in joy.

St. Therese the Little Flower provides an example for us-her "unfelt joy" reminds us that suffering is not only efficacious, but a sharing in the love of Christ.

When we look at the Cross, we see suffering without joy, but with acceptance, with peace.

Luke 22:42Douay-Rheims 1

42 Saying: Father, if thou wilt, remove this chalice from me: but yet not my will, but thine be done.

Luke 23:46

46 And Jesus crying out with a loud voice, said: Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. And saying this, he gave up the ghost.
Notice the double movement of Christ's Spirit. "thine be done" becomes "into your hands I commend my spirit". Then, He willed His death, which He had to do as God. He gave up the ghost.  We cannot do that. Our soul is taken from us in death. We cannot will death but only agree to it in Christ.
But God gives us practice if we are open to His grace. Daily we can die to ourselves to that the final passing is merely one more step of self-denial.
When I had cancer, I had to die to self, as now I am deformed. God asked this of me. For a person who had been attractive up to that point, this was a real death.
When I lost the love of a beloved, that was a deformation of dreams and expectations. For one who wants to be love and who wants to love, this was a real death. God knows I need the practice, as He has allowed this more than once.
But, one does learn to love and sacrifice less and less with the gnashing of teeth and more and more in peace and even moments of joy. The "unfelt joy" brings peace, but the real joy is a glimpse of eternity, wherein sacrifice is happy, happy, happy.
We shall be like little sparks in heaven, part of the large Light Who is Christ, loving freely, sacrificing in love with love for the sake of love and living in that love.
We shall be rewarded with Love in return and we shall never be outdone in generosity.
Eden was a small mirror of heaven on earth. Gethsemane brings down heaven in perfect love, perfect unity of Will and Will. Christ wants the same from each one of us. 
Dying to self means just that-death of the self and the finding of humility, the finding of sacrificial love. Only grace gives the joy, as if God reaches down to us and grabs us by the hand and lifts us up out of misery and pain. When He does this, we stand in Gethsemane with Him, but it is Eden, the place of love.
God's Will is not our own. We must conform our wills to His, and each one of us is called individually in different ways to do this. Do not miss the opportunity. Do not miss Eden because you are staring at Gethsemane.
to be continued....