Tuesday, July 13, 2010

PS 26 - My Foot Stands on Level Ground

Dear xxxxxxx,

Your prayer for judgment, asking God to take a look at your heart and mind, underlines the courage which you have been given, by Grace, to walk openly before God. (If I did not know you, I would have taken this as a 'dare' to God.) In it I hear the desire to walk the path of perfection, and the plea to resist the temptations that often can take us off that path. The fruits of your journey of discipline and love are, as you so wonderfully expressed, that 'God's love is before your eyes'.

I wonder though whether you have truly arrived at that place where your 'foot stands on level ground'? I understand that you may desire to avoid the places where liars and hypocrites and the wicked may go, but can anyone truly walk the path of perfection and avoid those places? There is a difference between avoiding those places and their temptations, and walking through them with the freedom that comes from loving God.

I would just like to hear more about those temptations, and perhaps together we can listen to God's call for us among the sinners and bloodthirsty men. What if God's desire wasn't to sweep away sinners, but to call you and I to attend to them, listen to them, and help them stand on level ground as well? What then would be your prayer?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ps 18- He brought me out into an open place

Dear xxxxx,

You speak in your letter titled Psalm 18 of a vision that you had- a vision with disaster, with enemies, with the breakers of death and cords of hell.
And then of God as "mounted on cherubim and swooping down on the wings of the wind, bringing you into an open place because he delighted in you".

Can you tell me more about what you think that these breakers of death and cords of hell represent for you?
Who are these enemies and what makes them so?

I wonder whether you have insight into the place that God brought you to- a place that was open? Can you tell me more about what that place looked like?

Perhaps, as an exercise, you could imagine a different kind of rescue where God does not come hurling thunderbolts and rocking the earth with his anger. Is there possibly a different kind of rescue from these enemies? Why do you think that the vision at this time called for such an angry and violent God?

Most of all I want to help you notice that God delighted in you, and this was the reason for your rescue. Perhaps the vision itself was just a vehicle for conveying that simple message.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Ecce eris tacens: Behold, thou shalt be silent.

SSM 2v

Dear Thomas,

I hope you are beginning to see the invitations that surround you like dust that appears in sunlight as it beams into a room. As you stood on that corner in Louisville, you recalled "..how strange it was to see people walking around as if they had something important to do, running after buses, reading the newspapers, lighting cigarettes." And then "How futile all their haste and anxiety seemed."

Then you say your "heart sank within me" and recognized that you too had been pretending to do something important all of your life.

What is it that you are discovering there? What have you gotten a glimpse of there? Do you really need further guidance about vocation?

I understand your fear about asking for advice, one 'last time' about a vocation as a monk. It is usually true that once one has been told that they are not called to ordained ministry, it is not likely that they will hear a different answer later on. Not a hard and fast rule, but the discernment process is reliable when it is done correctly AND when the desire is not so limited as to rule out other options.
In your case, your fear that you will be rejected one last time and the dream will be over has frozen you into inaction, despite the fact that you are clearly experiencing the pull to some sort of monastic life.

Have you considered that a 'no' to monastic life with the Franciscans is not a 'no' to the Trappists, or Carthusians?

And so, you ask my thoughts on your experience (Augustinian as you point out) in opening the Bible and randomly pointing to scripture to designate the answer to your question of what you should do. Is this hocus pocus? Is this the Holy Spirit?
"I looked, and the answer practically floored me. The words were 'Ecce eris tacens'. Behold, thou shalt be silent.'
Not silent about your question, as if God would direct you to stop bothering him.
Silent as in the opposite of haste and anxiety.
Silent as in the space between musical notes that make up a wind quartet.

Follow your heart Thomas. Ask the question again, but this time open the question up a bit. Recall the first principle of Ignatius. Is it really about which order to join because you are looking to escape from the anxiety and haste? Or is it about the community that will hold you and lighten the path to serve and reverence and praise this God who is poking you with silence, this tacens.

Do not tarry.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Excellence, in proportion to obscurity

SSM 2iv

Dear Thomas,

You must free yourself of all dependence on the perceptions of others, or you will not be able to discern even the slightest whisper of what God calls you to. Are you able to hear the full mathematical set of answers, or will you only hear what you perceive to be your destiny as your desire drowns out the rest?

What does God desire for the world? Can you predict this, and then shape your own desire to fit it, like a dovetail joint?

You must identify each and every reason that you wish to become a monk. Then you must place it on a cloud, and watch it, ask it to let you go, and then silently thank it as it washes away. Exhaust them all.
Can you free yourself from the imagination of every other person who might know of your desire to become a monk. Are you a monk in someone else's imagination still? Yes? Then you are not ready.