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Thursday, 11 December 2014

Perfection Series VIII Part XX On The Truth of Conversions

Years ago, my spiritual director at the time told me that he personally knew the priest who brought Jean-Paul Sartre back to the Church just before he died.

The two priests were friends.

In Raissa's diary, on October 24th, 1924, she writes of finding out that her and Jacques's good friend Pere Clerissac was the priest who was there when another priest brought Oscar Wilde back to the Church.

Here is the entry from Jacques in the footnote to the journal note: 

" Pere Clerissac never spoke to us about Wilde. But he told on of our friends, who repeated it to us, that he was sure that Wilde died a Catholic, for he was there at his death. In the Revue Hebdomadaire (November 28, 1925), Mr. Robert Ross names Father Cuthbert Dunn, of the Passionists, as having given Wilde Baptism and Extreme Unction. In this case, Father Clerissac would doubtless have assisted. Father Dunn." (We Have Been Friends Together, Adventures in Grace, Doubleday Image Books, p. 177). I have a hardbound of that book and loved reading it years ago-STM.

The world wants us to believe that such conversions are either false or a sign of failing mental powers. On the contrary, these conversions, and others, reaffirm our faith in God's goodness and the fact that grace for salvation is available to all men.

Raissa and I had similar experiences of finding out about the conversion of a famous sinner when it was important for us to know this mercy. Shortly after this entry was written, God plunged Raissa into a new and deeper suffering. She was made to be detached from all her friends. Shortly after I found out, a serious thing happened in my life as well. Mercy in the lives of others should lead us to believe in the way of holiness for ourselves. This is why we read the lives of the saints and why we rejoice in conversions. Hope is necessary in the purgative times.

This week for five days, I spoke with no one deeply about anything. Talking to bus divers or shop keepers was a necessity, as well as answering e-mails. But, the realization that I was totally isolated from anyone who could understand me and where my journey was taking me was a heavy burden. To know that intimacy may be denied me for my entire earthly life caused me great grief and dying to self-will. This has been growing for a long time...for three years to be exact. God has denied me close companionship.

It was alleviated somewhat by my long talk with my friend last night and a talk with my son this evening.

But, not to have companionship or anyone who intimately cares about one is a huge suffering brought about by God's Hand.

The reason for this is suffering is that the soul is being prepared for more love from God. Here are Raissa's own words.

...I do not call it living to suffer as I have suffered these last days,. It ought rather to be called wandering on the threshold of death, experiencing nothingness, measuring the abyss of our solitude.

God allows one to grieve, to love without return, to be misunderstood, to be alone with creativity and nothingness side-by-side.

I perfectly understand this entry of November 10th, 1924.

"The demands of the contemplative life: not to seek consolation from any creature. And consolations not sought, 'use them as if not using them.'"

For a long time, I thought this lack of human consolation was owing to my imperfections and sins, but in reality the lack of consolation is a gift to see one's imperfection and to highlight one's sins, but move beyond to the realization of God's love. Only in the nothingness does one really see one's self. as much as God wants to show one one's self. When one begins to see what and who one is, love is really possible.

Sometimes, for reasons of learning humility, God blinds us and waits.

Here is the real sign of the call at this state of purification:

"And then the luckiest thing that can happen to this soul is that God, in order to keep it entirely to Himself in spite of itself, causes every creature from whom it asks consolation to fail it. Then, they all become, at least in appearance, enemies. Where it seeks counsel, it finds silence. Where it seeks a friendly heart, it finds deafness. Where it seeks rest, it finds more rigid restraints than those of God's commandments--which are all lovable. And that the soul suffer thus is a very great grace. If God loved it less, he would allow creatures to console it. It must recognize its error as soon as possible. For in looking thus to right and left, it is following a zig-zag path which perhaps will weary God's patience. The straight way that leads to God is infinitely short, for He is as close as our own soul. The straight way is the magnanimous way without the errors and faint-heartedness of childhood, but with the simplicity and trust of a child."

This passage reminds one of the episode in St. Therese the Little Flower's life when he overheard her father complaining that she was still acting like a child at fourteen, instead of growing up and not expecting childish attentions. So it is with God. for years, I fought this and sought my own consolations. Finally, in God's mercy and forgiveness, I gave up. In this giving up, I have crossed a line into a new realization of the love of God and that peace which passes all understanding.

Raissa continues with something which those of my readers who have experienced this will recognize, as I do.

"...God only grants the soul what it does not ask, apart from what charity itself makes it a duty for it to ask. A truth experienced a hundred times. Above all, he refuses what it desires too much. On the contrary, he appears to grant everything one asks in an impulse of charity, even material things, daily bread, fine weather."

The big things are denied until the will is absolutely purified. One become resigned to how God wants to work in one and let Him determine one's life. One stops playing God.

I remind all that none of this happens without much pain and the sorrow of letting go of earthly loves and joys unless God directly brings these about. And, He may not at all.

A note for this evening....

The internet connection is going off and on and I am losing too much work. I shall continue this tomorrow.