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Sunday, 12 July 2015

Choosing Lesser Gods

In my long perfection series, I noted again and again, the God purifies the imagination in the Dark Night. For most of us who go through this process, this means the total giving up of television, movies, and other forms of imaginative creations which take over the place where God wants to meet us in contemplation. I no longer listen to classical music which I love, because it distracts my imagination from God.  I get to much "into " the music. Yes, sometimes classical music and art can lead us to a powerful aesthetic experience and then, into a transcendent experience of God--this has happened to me. But, silence is a better choice for me. Beauty may be found in silence.

I hope you remember my quotation from Thomas Merton. Here is a section of those postings where I shared his great insight on this point....

.. I am certainly no judge of television, since I have never watched it. All I know is that there is a significantly general agreement, among men, whose judgement I respect, that commercial television is degraded, meretricious and absurd. Certainly it would seems that TV could become a kind of unnatural surrogate for contemplation: a completely inert subjection to vulgar images, a descent to a sub-natural passivity rather than an ascent to a supremely active passivity in understanding and love. It would seem that television should be used with extreme care and discrimination by anyone who might hope to take interior life seriously.  from Seeds of Contemplation, Thomas Merton

I wrote about this years ago on this blog. I quoted Merton from this source:  Cistercian Studies Quarterly, "Inner Experience: Problems of the Contemplative Life (VII)", Vol 19, 1984, notes on pp. 269-270, 

God has given each human being the capacity of passive contemplation. This capacity is for God alone, for the creation of the space which He fills in the Unitive State.

Being passive before the tv fills that space with sewage and deadens the capacity for real contemplation. Worse than that, one becomes contemplatively united with whatever is on the tv through this passive contemplation, which brings one into "mystic attraction until one is spellbound in a state of complete union."
Merton states that either God or tv takes over the "will on a temporal or material level...the the nadir of intellectual and emotional slavery."

Satan knows this and uses tv for his grooming of damned souls.

To move from meditation, to active contemplation, to passive contemplation, is the call of each Catholic.

Are you clogging up the very gift God has given you by passive contemplation of tv? More on this in these posts.

11 Sep 2012
Figures for an Apocalypse by Thomas Merton. Posted by Supertradmum. As a foreigner in a foreign land, I shall not be able to talk about 9-11 as I would want to do today. But, I was in Canada on 9-11. Father Z has part of ...
22 Jan 2013
We only have so much the video here and the next one posted. I have read all of Thomas Merton's books many, many years ago but I have missed some of his articles. Now, I have come across a startling one ...
27 Oct 2014
He also mentioned Thomas Merton, who I had just put back on the blog this morning. Synchronicity. One more point this good priest made was that we all need to think about death. Again, synchronicity considering I just wrote ...
27 Oct 2014
Remember what Thomas Merton said, which I have quoted here before on this blog that television is the opposite of contemplation. And that the very energies of passivity which most men use in watching television are the .

21 Nov 2013
I have shared on this blog the great insight of Thomas Merton on the biggest danger of television-that the passivity which one approaches tv is the aspect, the gift of the mind and soul for passive prayer. The television takes ...
10 Aug 2014
Re meditation, is there room for 'quieting' the mind, stopping the mental chatter and allowing God into the stillness? are Thomas Murton's thoughts upon meditation in Western Christianity agreeable with Catholic Christian ...
09 Jan 2015
... anonymous contemplatives in the city, going about their daily tasks? 9 January 2015 at 17:31 · Supertradmum said... Mary Ann, actually, the reference I know is from Thomas Merton, but Maritain may have said this as well.
28 Nov 2013
Remember what Thomas Merton said, which I have quoted here before on this blog that television is the opposite of contemplation. And that the very energies of passivity which most men use in watching television are the ...

29 Nov 2013
As Thomas Merton notes, we are geared to passive intake of knowledge, which happens at the contemplative stage, but if our minds are full of goo from the television, we shall never learn either meditation or contemplation.
07 Dec 2014
Remember the posts on Thomas Merton's brilliant insight into the evil of television? Without a strong intellect, one cannot properly deal with the bombardment of images, good or bad, in this hyperactive world. Even to get on ...
25 Jan 2013
Cardinal Bernadine of Chicago, Thomas Merton (in a yoga pose), Martin Luther King, or homosexual "saints" such as Mychal Judge, Mark Bingham, Harvey Milk, or such people as Oscar Romero, John Donne, We-wha the ...
11 Nov 2014 12 November 2014 at 14:39 · Supertradmum ...

11 Sep 2012
... Father Mark "Vultus Christi" Kirby's first Oblate, I have to say my Benedictine soul is envious. Please know that you're in my prayers, and I'll be asking St. Scholastica and St. Thomas More for their intercession on your behalf.

The reason I return to these thoughts today has to do with the fact that I had a discussion with a young person last night on computer games. This young woman told me that she did not have any clue about spiritual warfare and was curious about my ability to see clearly the spiritual warfare around me. She and I had discussed this before, but this was the first time I made the connection with Thomas Merton's insight and her life choices.

As the great teachers of prayer tell us, to give up the passivity of our minds to another source rather than God means that we give up discernment, a gift given to us in confirmation, connected to the gift of knowledge. Many things can interfere with this gift but too much entertainment, and the type of entertainment can clog the imagination, stopping the use of the gift so needed in today's world.

Note the dates on the posts above. I have tried to point out the need for the clarification of the imagination for years. There must be an unclogging of the imagination which has been purposefully "clogged up". 

Silence and passivity before God must be priorities in our lives now. How can we hear God and see with His Mind if we are not cooperating with the gift of knowledge?

My young friend is not convinced. She and I have discussed this subject for a long time  But, she cannot yet make the connection I have tried to explain to her. Perhaps readers who "get" this can pray for her and those other young people she plays games with online. All these people in her group of gamers are good people, several are Catholic-- they are in their twenties and thirties, but God is calling them to a greater use of their imaginations than gaming---contemplative prayer.

How can one come into union with Christ when the imagination is full of lesser gods? 

UPDATE: Since we spoke, the young woman emailed me to say she has given up playing computer games. I am truly grateful to God for this grace. Please continue to pray for her in her pursuit of prayer. This is a huge turn-around! She will keep me posted on her efforts of prayer.