The intention of this effort is to further define an individual life of obedience, suffering the collapse of waywardness, enduring the path of perfection toward unification with God–an embracing of virtue through an expansion of the Theological Virtues: Faith, Hope, and Charity. Moving deeper into anonymity, I make an effort of individuality, holding up the concept He must increase, but I must decrease.
Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Thoughts are central to the psychic change necessary to bring about the natural life that will allow the spiritual life to flourish. All things in balance I seek to put my house in order before I can work toward the stilling.
Catechism of the Catholic Church. “A virtue is a habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself. The virtuous person tends toward the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and chooses it in concrete actions. The goal of a virtuous life is to become like God. (St Gregory of Nyssa)”
Authentic in nature, to the best of abilities; imperfections, appetites, original sin impeding, I am. Benefitting from a profound love of God, immersed within the grace of Mary, struggling to recognize the essence of Christ, enamored within an existential nature, attached to intelligence, admiring a creative slant, I attempt to know myself. Who are You Lord and who am I? Jesus said…“Will you also go away?” …Peter answered…“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life”…
Personal deficiencies, startling inadequacies, I crushed my life, snuffing, practically crashing my life. Destitution and homelessness bottoms willing to be fallen through even further downward spiraling until self-will rioting is identified as a means to a brutal and senseless end, an ignorant perversion forced upon a blessing. Broken and lonely, breath continues—inhalation and exhalation, desiring to love anew. Existing, joy remained submerged. A fleshly angel, a caring soul, Ann Marie emerges, driving home a new abode. A complex woman of God, in her own way through the Church, she presents a new path, one of psychological healing, brokenness mending–grace building upon nature, methods shunning the supernatural. Accepting God’s immense love upon proper terms, not illicitly asking for more than intended, ceasing unsatisfied demands.
Catechism of the Catholic Church. “Human virtues are firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of intellect and will that govern our actions, order our passions, and guide our conduct according to reason and faith. They make possible ease, self-mastery, and joy in leading a morally good life. The virtuous man is he who freely practices the good.
The moral virtues are acquired by human effort. They are the fruit and seed of morally good acts; they dispose all the powers of the human being for communion with divine love. Ann Marie, taking me under her wing, sternly presented the idea of absolute failure, negating all delusion, providing confidence in individual skill and the mercy of God. Rigorously demanding honesty, she provided companionship while hacking away at the wreckage blocking the path of recovery. My natural life had become a mess. Step one: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol— that our lives had become unmanageable.” The underground man rending asunder anew the life lived by many, I could make no claims upon a design for living that really worked. Loving God, gifted with unquenchable belief, eternally hoping, my life digressed into severe alcoholism, a conviction of hopelessness, a destiny of misery, settling upon consciousness—the line of demarcation between sanity and madness fading with moments. Living the most absurd of lives, a contradiction in a serious sense, I smashed my head into walls, the whole time fiercely flailing about in abhorrent attempts to intellectually and spiritually conquer, to establish a mystical bond through excess and debauchery.
All we ever wanted was everything
All we ever got was cold
Get up, eat jelly
Sandwich bars, and barbed wire
Squash every week into a day
The sound of the drum is calling
The sound of the drum has called
Flash of youth shoot out of darkness
Oh to be the cream—Bauhaus
He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, “You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed? …And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.”
Ann Marie confronted a shattered perspective, bringing new ideas, forcing forward ideas of psychological mending, demanding the establishment of a path to recovery. Mary the Undoer of Knots hovered untying, gifted by Pope Francis as a worthy devotion. …Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; if it is, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved. I had to become a new man in order to fully allow God to enter. No longer would fantasy, a life of imagination, escapism, a life lived unseen, an underground man, a misunderstood artist, accessible as a foundational reality. A grounding of the natural had to take place. I must elevate my life to normalcy if I were to advance spiritually. I must become a vessel worthy of filling. First, I had to return to being normal. Extremes now only wearied. The prodigal son no longer cared to dine with swine.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
“This is the trait of a humble person; he does not dare deal with God independently, nor can he be completely satisfied without human counsel and direction”. (Ascent p. 183). A humble man is able to place himself in obedience, foregoing a combative, obstinate mind, the mind of a mule. “Your way is perverse and contrary to Me.” (Nm. 22:32). St Francis placed himself in obedience to every soul he encountered, lowering himself to the salvific demands and needs of those he encountered. To put the needs of others first deflates the demands of self-absorption and self -delusion. “Take away my difficulties so that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of thy power, thy love, and thy way of life”. Graces are granted not solely for the receiver. We do not venture toward heaven alone.
Humility, the quality of being humble, had to become an overwhelming state of mind. Brokenness, pride in reverse, defensive reactions to rejection, fears of abandonment–nothing justified arrogance. Subtler yet obtuse, unseen, hidden spiritual pride arising from supernatural communications wielded a fatal blow to manageable modesty. The example of St Francis of Assisi having the religious order he founded removed from his command had to serve properly. However, forlornly and for one, matters out of the ordinary proved crippling, raising above the specter of belligerence to a God radiating love. Removing myself from the mainstream, stepping aside from individuality, identity, cleverly rejecting the redundancy if comparing and contrasting, holding to the attachment to isolated moments of wonder, I prospered in furthering appetites, unable to advance forward in loving God, while falling deeper and deeper into depravity. It did no good to remain detached from images attached to identities while being ravaged by the passions of sensual excess. A lack of discipline was a paltry offering from one assuming prestige as a gifted man of prayer. To be able to quiet one’s self in meditation meant nothing when wedded with moments of extreme drunkenness. Celibacy existed not for one lacking partners when thoughts and stimulation blinded the soul. The Cardinal Virtues, four in number, denied. Prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance forsaken. Fellowship non-existent. Prudence usurped by an inferiority complex birthing extreme egotism; arrogantly and humbly self-righteous while overly-sensitive. Justice rejected through religious manipulation, irresponsible social interaction, and an overall living as a gifted one superiorly removed from community-accountability sidestepped via self-delusion. Fortitude, constancy and strength in the pursuit of good, never established as immaturity, childishness, thrashed about through indiscipline and the fury of passions, a fiery appetite making insane impetuous and vain demands. “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. So faith, hope, love abide…”. Temperance, the will’s mastery over instincts, it’s lacking, raped my life, physically and mentally punishing beyond childish conceptions. Rigorous honesty was needed to rewire anxiety driven compulsions, to correct perverted fantasies, to untie the knots of habitual behavior. To say ‘I was not that bad, especially compared to others’ was the softer easier way leading to damnation. St Liguroui astutely declares the necessity of keeping death as a constant companion. I must live my life as if I were dying. Christ is a savior providing life and death. Life must honor death in order for death to provide new life. I desire a happy profound death for all living
Catechism of the Catholic Church. To live well is nothing other than to love God with all one’s heart, with all one’s soul and with all one’s efforts; from this it comes about that love is kept whole and uncorrupted (through temperance). No misfortune can disturb it (and this is fortitude). It obeys only [God] (and this is justice), and is careful in discerning things, so as not to be surprised by deceit or trickery (and this is prudence).75
It is not easy for man, wounded by sin, to maintain moral balance. Christ’s gift of salvation offers us the grace necessary to persevere in the pursuit of the virtues. Everyone should always ask for this grace of light and strength, frequent the sacraments, cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and follow his calls to love what is good and shun evil.
The human virtues are rooted in the theological virtues…They (theological virtues) are infused by God into the souls of the faithful to make them capable of acting as his children and of meriting eternal… There are three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity.
“….leading the three faculties (intellect, memory, and will) into this spiritual night, the means to divine union….the theological virtues (faith, hope, and charity, related…as proper supernatural objects, and through which the soul is united with God) cause the same emptiness and darkness…faith in the intellect, hope in the memory, and charity in the will….to journey to God the intellect must be perfected in the darkness of faith, the memory in the emptiness of hope, and the will in the nakedness and absence of every affection….the soul is not united with God in this life through understanding, or through enjoyment, or through imagination, or through any other sense; but only faith, hope, and charity (according to the intellect, memory, and will) can unite the soul with God in this life.” (Ascent p. 119)