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Wednesday 23 October 2013

The Fear of Being Loved and the Dark Night of the Spirit

Pysche and Eros

I have written on this subject before on this blog. In ourselves, as one approachs God in the Dark Night, one begins to realize that for a long time, fear has blocked one's openness to the love of God and the love of other people.

When I wrote about this phenomenon before, I was thinking of particular people I knew in the past who never became intimate with another person. I thought of one beautiful young woman who was hurt several times in love affairs and finally decided never to love or be loved again.

She decided to live in the shadows of what it means to be human.

Like a grey ghost, her life was circumscribed to choosing death rather than life, because the soul curls up and dies without love. She decided that the suffering of love was not worth the joy of love. She decided that it was too painful to both love a person who was imperfect and to love herself as imperfect.

Thanks to Wiki for Teresa in Ecstasy 

I thought of three men I knew who closed their lives to the adventure of love for three completely different reasons. The first only wanted to give and not take. He was too afraid to take, which meant that his emotional life was stunted by pain from his past.

The second could only take and not give. He was incapable of breaking through defensiveness and pain, moving into a forgiveness, and letting go of his past so that he could love those in his present life. Again, his life remained ghostly and on the edges of human potential. Although he wanted love, he did not learn how to give and get out of himself.

The third person was too afraid to engage at all in either giving or taking love. The traumas of his life caused to live in a safe world, not taking any chances to love or be loved. Of all these three men, this one remained the most haunted and circumscribed, again, like a familiar ghost, stuck in his small surroundings and highly organized world, not letting anyone break down the walls of fear and self-hatred.

How sad.

In the Dark Night, one faces the real fear of both losing God's love through sin and self-will, and gaining God's love in humility and truth.

Real love demands that one see one's gross failings and yet remains open to love, not hiding, not saying no out of a false pride or false self-loathing.

The balance is all.

In the Dark Night, God comes again and again into the shadow world of the loss of memory, understanding and will to meet one in a completely new way.

A wise priest who understands the way of perfection told me three things today I would like to share with you. I have added ideals from the myth of Psyche and Eros, one of my favorite myths, to help clarify these words.

The first is not to give up on the slow process of perfection, paying attention as one goes along and even finding joy in the painful stages. But, one must pray for all blocks to God to be removed. One of these blocks can be the fear of being loved by a God...remember the myth of Psyche. She did not know she was being loved by God and was tricked into trying to see who it was who was loving her. She should have waited and trusted in the darkness of the night and not lit the candle to see Love. She was rushing illumination and infused knowledge, which the god would have given her if she would have waited. She thought that the most beautiful god in the heavens was a beast who was deceiving her. So, too, one must learn to trust God in the Dark Night.

This joy is part of the knowledge that one is truly following God to the best of one's ability and that God is faithful in His pursuit of His beloved. One must wait for God but also wait for one's self and not do damage to the natural process of the growth to perfection, which leads to the second point.

The second is that the process is faster for some and slower for others totally depending on God's Will and plan for that person. One cannot push the process to go faster, or to slow it down without doing great harm to the soul. Psyche had to perform tasks in order for her to be reunited with Eros. She could not rush these, and several things aided her in these tasks because she was open and humble. So too, one must do the work, but in humility, not always knowing the way. One is afraid that if the other person who loves really knows one, that the love would end. The tasks given to each one of us strengthen one's trust in God. The tasks demand that one learns to be humble enough to accept love even though one is imperfect and still sinning those little venial sins.

The third wise thing the priest said was that God wants to give each one of us more than one can imagine. He desire to reveal Himself to us and to be one with us. So, too, with Pysche, who not only ended up marrying her beloved god, Eros, but having a child with him, named Joy. Sometimes people are afraid of what God will ask of them if they accept God's Love. This fear of responsibility fades away in the Face of Divine Providence.

What the ancients tell us is also what the mystics tell us in that joy only comes through trials and trust and loving God. Joy comes eventually, after fear and false pride die. One must not be afraid. One must trust.

Such are hints for those in the Dark Night of the Spirit....

Re-post from Bloy

Saturday, 8 December 2012

More from Bloy on Sanctity or Perfection........

We are created that we may become saints. 

If anything is written, this surely is. Sanctity is so required of us, it is so inherent in human nature, that God presumes its existence, so to speak, in each of us, by means of the sacraments of His Church, that is, by means of mystical signs invisibly making operative in souls the beginning of Glory. Sacramentum nihil aliud nisi rem sacram, abditam atque occultam significat. (A Sacrament is nothing other than a sacred, withdrawn and mysterious thing.) This sacred and mysterious thing thus alluded to by the Council of Trent has the effect of uniting souls to God. The most transcendent theology contains nothing stronger than this affirmation.

There are even three sacraments that imprint a character, and whose mark cannot be effaced. Thus we are virtually saints, pillars of eternal Glory. A Christian may disown his baptism, debar the Holy Spirit from his thought, and, if he is a spoiled priest, reject the succession of the Apostles conferred upon him by holy orders; in short, he may damn himself forever; nothing will be able to disunite him, to separate him from God, and what an unfathomable mystery of terror is this persistence of the sacred Sign even into the infinite pangs of perdition. Hence it must be said that hell is peopled with fearsome saints become the companions of the hideous angels!

However evil such saints or angels may be, they have God in them. Otherwise they would not be able to subsist, even in the state of nothingness, since nothingness, also inconceivable without God, is the eternal reservoir of Creation.

All that God has made is sacred after a fashion which only He could explain.Water is holy, stones are holy, plants and animals are holy, fire is the devouring likeness of His Holy Spirit. His entire work is holy. Man alone, who is more holy than other creatures, will have none of sanctity.e considers it ridiculous and even insulting to his dignity. Such is, in the twentieth century of the Redemption, the visible and perceptible result of the unfaithfulness of so many shepherds, of the monstrous blindness brought about by those who should have been the light of the world, and who extinguished all light.

It is certain indeed that never, at no age of the world’s history, were men as far from God, as contemptuous of the Sanctity which He demands, and yet never has the necessity for being saints been so manifest. In these apocalyptic days it truly seems as though only a film of nothingness separates us from the eternal gulfs.

“Not all men are called to saintliness,” says a Satanic cant phrase. To what then are you called, O wretch? and above all in our day and age? The Master said you must be perfect. He said it in an imperative, absolute way, giving to be understood that there is no alternative, and those whose duty it is to teach His word, by themselves presenting an example of perfection, ceaselessly assert that it is not necessary, that a reasonably trifling average of love is more than enough for salvation, and that the desire for the supernatural way of life is rash, when it is not culpable presumption.
Aliquam partem, “a certain portion,” they argue, debasing an expression in the Liturgy, a tiny little corner in Paradise, that is what we need. To this base retreat, to this formal denial of the divine Promise, they give a color of humility, cunningly omitting the heroic sequel to the two liturgical words, in which is specified that the “portion” in case is nothing less than “the company of the Apostles and the Martyrs.”

But cowardly minds and mediocre hearts can avail nothing against the Word of God, and the Estote perfecti (Be ye perfect) of the Sermon on the Mount continues to weigh upon us infinitely more than all the globes in the firmament.

Sanctity has always been required of us. In older days, it was possible to believe that sanctity was demanded from afar, like a debt due on a vague date, which might possibly lapse. Today sanctity is laid on our doorstep by a wild-eyed, blood-smeared messenger. Behind him, a few steps behind him, are panic, fire, pillage, torture, despair, the most frightful death ..

And we have not even a moment in which to choose!

I began 2012 writing about the pursuit of love and perfection without any idea this would lead to almost the entire them of this blog.

The journey continues, moving from the specific to the general and back to the specific.

Be a saint, through love, wherever you may be.

Statistics on English Catholics

White British74.6%
White Eastern European9.5%
White Irish4.4%
White Other3.9%
Black African2.5%
Mixed other1.9%

Does this list surprise you? It did surprise me. From 2008 statistics on Catholics in England, which make up only 4.2 million of the entire population. We are a minority Church.  And dropping. There are less Catholics in England now than a hundred years ago by some statistics. 

In the 2001 UK census, there were 4.2 million Catholics in England and Wales, some 8 per cent of the population. One hundred years earlier, in 1901, they had represented only 4.8 per cent of the population. The percentage of Catholics was at its highest in the 1981 census, with 8.7 per cent.[7] In 2009 an Ipsos Mori poll found 9.6 percent, or 5.2 million, Catholics in England and Wales.[8] Sizeable Catholic populations include North West England where one in five is Catholic.[9] This includes Liverpool which has the highest proportion of any city in Great Britain at 46 per cent; historically, this is due both to a large influx of Irish migrantsafter the 1800 Act of Union, in which Ireland became part of the United Kingdom,[10][11] as well as a high concentration of English recusants living in Lancashire.

To Our Father in Heaven

Pater noster qui es in coelis,
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum,
fiat voluntas tua, 
sicut in coelo et in terra.
Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie,
et dimitte nobis debita nostra, 
sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris.
et ne nos inducas in tentationem
sed libera nos a malo.

The Unknown God vs. The Known God

We do not worship the Unknown God, as St. Paul reminded the Athenians. We worship a God Who came to earth and made Himself vulnerable to the very creatures He had created.

This vulnerable God is Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Son of God and Son of Man. His vulnerability is met by us daily in the Holy Eucharist.

This God comes to us in abject humility. Can we do less than meet Him in humility? God has already endured a Dark Night which none of us could endure. He let Himself be killed on the Cross and experience all the sins, depressions, abandonments, failings of every human being who was ever created.

This God is Pure Love. And, He calls each one of us daily to find Him, as He wants to be found.

He calls and calls and calls. Only fear and pride keep one from responding.

Do not be afraid.

God desires that we know Him and love Him. This is a call to freedom.

Love is only given freely, and is only responded to freely if it is real love.

Manipulation, greed, self-will stop love, both the giving and the taking.

Do not be afraid. From Acts 17...

22 But Paul standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are too superstitious.
23 For passing by, and seeing your idols, I found an altar also, on which was written: To the unknown God. What therefore you worship, without knowing it, that I preach to you:
24 God, who made the world, and all things therein; he, being Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
25 Neither is he served with men's hands, as though he needed any thing; seeing it is he who giveth to all life, and breath, and all things:
26 And hath made of one, all mankind, to dwell upon the whole face of the earth, determining appointed times, and the limits of their habitation.
27 That they should seek God, if happily they may feel after him or find him, although he be not far from every one of us:
28 For in him we live, and move, and are; as some also of your own poets said: For we are also his offspring.
29 Being therefore the offspring of God, we must not suppose the divinity to be like unto gold, or silver, or stone, the graving of art, and device of man.
30 And God indeed having winked at the times of this ignorance, now declareth unto men, that all should everywhere do penance.
31 Because he hath appointed a day wherein he will judge the world in equity, by the man whom he hath appointed; giving faith to all, by raising him up from the dead.
32 And when they had heard of the resurrection of the dead, some indeed mocked, but others said: We will hear thee again concerning this matter.
33 So Paul went out from among them.
34 But certain men adhering to him, did believe; among whom was also Dionysius, the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.