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Monday, 8 June 2015

The Vision of The Principle

For centuries, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church have likened the two wives of Jacob to the active or contemplative life. In modern times, in order not to make active women feel bad about their lives, priests have not quoted these passages comparing Leah to the active life and Rachel to the contemplative life.

I remember reading about this many, many decades ago. To make the distinction is not to dis women in the active life, (I was a single mum, working, homeschooling, keeping the books, etc. and I did not feel dissed), but to reflect on the two ways which must both end up in the same place, perfection.

Aquinas, again quoted by the Maritains, states, "Absolutely speaking and in itself, the contemplative life is better than the active. The Philosopher proves this by eight reasons."

Here theses are with more explanation as to the comparison of Rachel to Leah.

One, "The contemplative life is suitable to man in regard to his most perfect possession, the intellect, and in relation to the proper objects of that faculty, namely the intelligibles, while the active life is concerned with exterior things. Wherefore the name of Rachel, who represents the contemplative life, means the vision of the principle, the active life being represented by Lia, who suffered from weak eyes..." Maritains quoting St. Gregory here.

Rachel was the great beloved wife of Jacob who bore him his favorite sons, Joseph and Benjamin. His long time of labor in order to "pay" for her to her father, Laban, represents the long journey of purgation in the Dark Nights, purging one of sins.

Laban tricked Jacob, (a punishment from God for Jacob tricking his own father), and gave Leah to him first. Finally, Jacob won Rachel, the desire of his heart, and his soul mate.

Rachel came to represent the contemplative life, not only because of her name, but because she represented the true desire, the purer love. of Jacob's heart.

Our truest desire is for God alone. That is the key to following the contemplative life. Being back in the States, I have seen the terrible distractions and waste of energy for so many things which are not necessary to the spiritual life.

The second point, Two, has been discussed by those in monasteries.

"The contemplative life can be more continuous (though this continuity cannot be referred to the supreme act of contemplation); this is why Mary, who symbolises contemplative life, s shewn us as always at the feet of the Lord.:

Three, "The delectation of the contemplative life is greater than that of the active; this is the meaning of S. Augustine's saying that Martha was worried while Mary was feasting."

Four, "In the contemplative life man is more self-sufficient for he depends in this exercise less on external things; wherefore it is said in Luke IV, 'Martha, Martha, thou are troubled and worried about many things."

One reason I love going to Europe is that I can walk and not have to drive or have a car, eat much more simply, get to daily Mass and Adoration easily, and have a lower lifestyle. Americans have fallen into Satan's trap of complicating their lives by desires for novelties and more and more things. When one settles for less, one is freer to meet God daily.

Five, "The contemplative life is loved for its own sake, while the active life is ordained for something beyond itself; wherefore it is said in Ps. 26, (translated) ' One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. That I may see the delight of the Lord, and may visit his temple.'"

I shall continue with the next three points later. I am still looking for the small place where I can pray and for two women, two only, to join me in contemplation, and, thankfully, after slightly over two weeks of being here, starting tomorrow, I can go back into my monastic schedule. Thank God.

May I add that since the late 1970s, when some mothers had to go to work, that I thought this was a lie from Satan to destroy the contemplative atmosphere of a disciplined, well-ordered home, where the mother was the quiet center of life and order.

When there is no home-centered woman, it is much harder to have daily rosary or novenas in the home, or other times of meditation.

Home schooling moms of my generation, even those with many children. created that quiet atmosphere of prayer and study, very monastic, very simple, thus leading themselves and their children into a place of contemplation. Consumerism and financial lies about "having it all" caused some of the chaos. Women's lib created some of the deceit that a mother's role at home had no value. Of course, without that still center, families cannot easily come to listen and know God or the life of virtue.  A home can be active and yet the old Montessori schools wherein we whispered and the children worked in a quiet hum of activity.

to be continued....