In my occupation as an industrial maintenance technician, I often have days of nothing to do. Today is one. I will utilize the time to expand upon my thoughts on love as opposed to indifference. First, I would like to stress how I view myself. I am not a theologian, nor a scholar. I base my blogging efforts upon a friend requesting I undertake the task. I do view myself as a writer, although this is in regards to my extensive reading background, mostly fiction, storytelling—film cherished. I feel I possess a unique insight, sentimentality and empathy, into my characters. That insight is based absolutely upon love. I love my characters, desiring to bring them to life and expression. The reason I feel qualified to write about the contemplative life, I am not as confident about. I am not an academic expert, or even the best read on the doctors of the Church. I even thought of changing the blog title or ceasing my effort. Once I did determine to focus the title of my page on Faith, Hope, and Charity, the contemplative life as a layperson, I came across the blog ‘Contemplative in the Mud’. The young man putting the blog together, I sensed is much better read and more intelligent than myself. I feel God guided me to the blog, a proper humbling. Yet I was not discouraged. I prayed over matters, feeling confident to precede, authentic in motivation. I will note that the fore mentioned blog, I read daily. It has become, and will be, a part of my daily religious practice. My friary days, my short lived postulancy as a Franciscan friar, established my confidence in God blessing me with an exceptional prayer life. All glory goes to God. I am most secure, joyous, and confident during mass, and then during pray before the Eucharist. The Rosary and Meditation are sheer delights. Our daily life in the friary intensely combined an introverted and extroverted spirituality.
I will take a side note and comment on an injustice I perceive. Jungian thought on introversion and extroversion is immaturely perverted by the majority of people using the terms. It is not an either or situation. I am not either an introvert, or an extrovert. Both the active and contemplative approach to life are a part of every person’s personality. It was presented to me that a good example of proper balancing of both approaches to life is John Paull II. John Paul, an introvert, accomplished phenomenal things as an extrovert. To even go above and beyond John Paul, Our Lord and Savior demonstrates the ultimate embracing of introversion and extroversion. Within a crowd, Our Lord was open and present for every individual. Supernaturally aware and tuned to hearts, He healed, taught, cajoled, and shared with the entirety of His being. Yet Our Lord mastered introversion on a level none can ever comprehend. Receiving the Holy Spirit through John the Baptist, Our Lord immediately went off to the desert for forty days of intense fasting, prayer, and meditation. Throughout his ministry, Our Lord found it necessary to recede from the crowd in order to communicate with His Father. Preparing for his ultimate test in the Garden of Gethsemane, His prayer efforts were so intense He sweat blood, providing for all the mightiest of wisdom: ‘Thy will be done’.
Back to friary days. As friars, we evangelized to the extreme, knocking on neighborhood doors, visiting elementary, high schools and colleges speaking, holding court with the Knight of Columbus and other groups, mingling at dinner parties, watching the Super Bowl with benefactors in their home. There were prayer excursions to abortion clinics, homeless missions—all in all, a total effort of socializing. It was why I left. I could not take it. Recovering from alcoholism, I was not that psychologically sound in crowds, fear still dominating amongst others. In regards to the contemplative life, I prospered, flourishing during the two holy hours conducted daily and the communal Rosary before night prayers: Compline. The Holy Hours were conducted in the morning before mass, and one before evening prayers: Vespers. It was interesting to take note of the friars during the Holy Hours. The ones who grew excited during the evangelizing, playing in the musical band, well versed with people, skilled and loving with men, women, and children, struggled mightily during the Holy Hour, or read and/or wrote throughout the sacred time. The worst was a jovial chubby Philippine young man who played guitar, sang with delight, and was adored by all. There was no one who could say a bad thing about the brother. He was a blessed soul. Yet I would chuckle when I watched him walking apprehensively into the Holy Hour. He did not like them. He had such a difficult time sitting still, squirming all the time, just having a terrible time sitting still for such a long period of time. I say all that lovingly. That coincides with my idea that within the vastness of the Church we find our individual way—St Paul’s elaborations on the body of the Church. Back to the Holy Hour, I realized that was my time of strength. There was another brother who also shared my prayer tendency. The academic type read voraciously during the Holy Hour, others prayed the Rosary. There were only two of us who went into meditation. I would do nothing, concentrating upon my breath, mentally focusing upon the Eucharist. The priest in charge disdained the writing of Basil Pennington, Thomas Merton, and Thomas Keating, while loving John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila. To him, the idea of emptying ourselves was absurd. We filled with the Eucharist during the Holy Hour. Through practice, I was able to go deep during the hours. It is difficult to explain. We would end the sessions with the ringing of a bell. Often when the bell rang, I felt as if I was being ripped back to a false life. During my best sessions, it was a struggle to cease the meditation. I did not want to return. I felt exhausted opening my eyes. That leads perfectly into the idea of indifference. That is the proper indifference. Being absorbed into the Eucharist through stillness and a holy environment the presence of God became an enveloping reality. It usurped all else, forcing indifference and abandonment into consciousness. However the key is that the Theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity expanded through the effort. I relate it to my love for my family. During these intense times of prayer, a profound love for my family developed. They were centered in my heart, their salvation and worldly concerns vital to my life. I tried to explain this amidst my family only to have my sister-in-law comment that absence makes the heart grow fonder. In my normal manner of clamming up when a know-it-all who does not know-it-all takes command of a conversation, I thought strongly ‘NO that is not it. It is not about them being distant. They were in truth closer to me the deeper my prayer advanced’. Back to proper indifference, I state that if infused virtues are not made greater through my religious efforts, than the indifference to worldly things is false, an error in effort, most likely, for whatever reason, an inability to love. I want to go back to a quote from the other day, where oddly enough, I touched upon the idea of indifference. The soul therefore, requires at least indifference of judgment and of will. Then, penetrated with the conviction that God is all and the creature nothing, one will desire to see and embrace in all things only the God whom one loves and yearns for and his holy will which alone can conduct one to one’s end. Happy the person, if one has also acquired what may be called indifference of taste, so that the world and its pleasures, the goods and honors of earth, everything, in short, that might estrange one from God, now inspires one with disgust, and on the contrary, whatsoever brings one closer to him, even suffering, delights one. So has it been with the saints who hungered and thirsted after God. Oh, how such indifference facilitates the practice of holy abandonment! Within the paragraph indifference is stressed, yet it is toward the things that take us away from God. If the bold text is not grasped the indifference becomes useless, 1 Corinthians 13 the obvious reference. The things that bring us closer to God must not be met with indifference, in regards to creatures they must be met with love, a sign of serous spiritual advancement would expand this to blissful love. We must love or we know nothing about God.