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Sep. 6, 2012, at 1:07pm
Just a week or two ago we heard at Sunday Mass the stirring exhortation from Joshua 24:25
But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.
Personalist that I am, this set me reflecting on a mysterious fact of our being: Service is an ineradicable exigency of our contingent nature. We cannot decide whether we will serve, only whom we will serve. We are not God. We have no way of explaining our existence, nor any power to set its terms. We are "handed …continue reading
I have the same tendency, Katie. Willing oneself to be joyful backfires, as you say, yet there is a lot of pressure, I find, within certain Christian circles to be joyful. There is, of course, a way of burdening the rest of the world with one's bad mood, which is wrong. Yet putting on an act and faking it is wrong as well. If the smile is not simply a "grimacing", merely a lifting of one's facial muscles, but a response to another person, an expression of love, even if one isn't feeling joyful, then, it seems to me, it is genuine. My smile then is a loving reaching out to another. St Therese of Lisieux was saying how she would smile to a nun each time she saw her though the latter had a difficult character. She probably wasn't feeling joyful inside, but could still radiate real love by deciding to be welcoming to the other, and real joy, because of God's presence in her soul.
Apr. 23 at 5:29am | See in context
This is new to me:
The dark night, after all, is not the result of sin, an absence of grace, but rather a presence of God so overwhelming that the soul is blinded. She experiences as darkness what is really an abundance of light and love. God allows this for the good of the soul, even though it is excruciatingly painful. While she may not feel His presence, it can be felt by the persons surrounding her, sensing God’s presence in her.
I've never come across so clear a distinction between this sense of dark night and mere suffering, or so clear an explanation for how Christian joy can coincide with inner anguish.
Reading it, I realize how much my tendency is to feel guilty about not being joyful, and then to "will myself" to be joyful, which of course backfires.
Apr. 23 at 2:11am | See in context
M.C., I've found the book Co-dependant No More very helpful and illuminating. There were "recovering alcoholics" in my life growing up, so I'd heard the term. But it it's only recently that I've begun to really look into what it is, and try to understand what it means for personal and interpersonal life. Now lights are going on.
Another great book on the same theme (which I read at Kate's recommendation) is Boundaries.
I know I'm going to spend years working out the relation between the nature of a person as a being "made for her own sake and called to make a sincere gift of herself in love" and the problem of dysfunctional relations, wherein the master/slave dynamic disguises itself as Christian community.
The "master" figure in that situation typically (and unwittingly) teaches those around him to regard their attempts to be a self as "selfish" and otherwise morally and religiously defective. He imagines that by imposing his will on others, he is being a leader and an example. The "slave" figure disguises to herself her lack of courage and strength as humility and service. She imagines that she is being loving and giving.
Apr. 23 at 2:05am | See in context
Thank you very much! i appreciate that, Kate Whittaker
Apr. 22 at 10:39pm | See in context
I've read this and the comments- its given me real food for thought. I thank you! I find I'm still drawn to relationship with persons who tend to replay these dynamics for me. Its difficult to disentangle myself from the desire to be "managed." This in particular rings very true: "the underlying characteristic of most addicts is the deep seated desire to play the 'director' of life's dramas...and continual angst and resentment that others won't learn their lines." I'd add that both recipient and deliverer of this treatment play a role in sinning against the other. I would love a specific reference. This post was written long ago, so maybe, not possible to provide. I shall have to do some research. Lots to read from here, and thanks.
Apr. 22 at 5:18pm | See in context
Thanks for your practical insights, Derva. I have been re-searching Maritain's Education at the Crossroads for a maxim that is most relevant to your sharing: "The unbending quality of the the simplest natural truth" . I think it was in the context of manual work.
I once worked with a cabinet maker of sorts and my measurements were off only slightly but it still ruined the work. Despite the fact that I'm a good person there was no pity! It had to be done over!
Despite the fact that Thomas Merton was a man of God, his gentlest touch on an exposed electric wire electrocuted him.
Such, from one perspective, is the way of truth!
Apr. 17 at 11:55am | See in context
Patrick, I read Brian's article, with great interest. I've heard some responses to it, the gist being that many of the gnostic elements he identifies are not exclusive to gnositicism, and are motifs used by the Church, espeically early on. I found the responses quite convincing, though not entirely. I thought the movie was very thought-provoking, but I do think it's a mistake to let ourselves get sidetracked by lining up as pro- or anti-Noah, or any other movie. Even with something like Passion of the Christ, about which there was a lot more unanimity among Christians, I didn't like the way people were sometimes pressured into seeing it, or the way it was treated as a litmus test.
Apr. 10 at 4:49pm | See in context
Yet St. Paul has counseled: "Test everything; retain what is good."
As to the movie itself, or the Catholic 'approach' to it,
"The scandal is this: of all the Christian leaders who went to great lengths to endorse this movie (for whatever reasons: “it’s a conversation starter,” “at least Hollywood is doing something on the Bible,” etc.), and all of the Christian leaders who panned it for “not following the Bible”…
Not one of them could identify a blatantly Gnostic subversion of the biblical story when it was right in front of their faces."
To me, the matter is simple: why do we even need to bother with something like Noah? If it is as described above, and it comes down to entertainment vs. no entertainment (of this variety), I would rather suffer with none. It is just clutter in my soul at that point. Noise.
Apr. 8 at 10:15am | See in context
Kate, thank you! If you do change your mind and see Noah, you'll enjoy it a lot more if you read Fr. Ed Fride's take on it, and Patrick Coffin's, to head off possible misunderstandings. But of course nobody has to see it--I'm even having second thoughts about writing about it, not being someone who thrives on conflict!
Apr. 6 at 4:41pm | See in context
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