Although they may be good in themselves (spiritual exercises), their proper use may only serve to confuse the mind, increase self-love and instability and thus open a way to the illusions of the devil.
Yesterday I find remarkably insightful, as I do the experiences of today. The disenchantment sweeping over my hell-bent, full-throttle to Missouri escape, a Trappist monastery excess, and then the telephone call informing there were no openings at the inn appeared heaven sent, a smack in the face of self-will, an affirming of the above words from ‘Spiritual Warfare’.
The gifted rental car is being utilized. I woke early to start my day with daily mass at St Stanislus in Cleveland. Staying within the Spirit, moving forward in life aligned with Divine Will, discovering, expanding in depth self-knowledge, who I am, I find it essential in maximizing contemplative efforts. I need depth in life. I must have depth in life. It is a part of my devoted personality type and my INTP personality; demanding order, structure, and a greater meaning within all activities; a profound awareness embracing life through love–everything focused back upon the contemplative life, the prayerful life aspiring for a greater love of God, therefore a more efficacious grace-providing servitude. Love and meaning must rule my unique life of surrender and concentration upon prayer–the Eucharist, or I collapse into self-destruction.
INTP personality type, the Logician. “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning”–Albert Einstein. The INTP personality type is fairly rare, making up only three percent of the population, which is definitely a good thing for them, as there’s nothing they’d be more unhappy about than being “common”. INTPs pride themselves on their inventiveness and creativity, their unique perspective and vigorous intellect. Usually known as the philosopher, the architect, or the dreamy professor, INTPs have been responsible for many scientific discoveries throughout history
I like how Dr Nichta stresses the importance of knowing my strengths and weakness within my unique individual personality. The above quote also possesses a negative side. For myself, the INTP is the self-destructive alcoholic who is willing to crash his life in order to induce the greatest drama and depth possible to the negative extreme. I will absolutely destroy myself in order to live a life of punishing meaning, despair, and dramatics—the exercising of a vigorous out-of-control intellect challenging life to the extreme. The existential writer/poet alcoholic who is unabashedly driven by the most insane intense inner-fear of the natural life, a man of God who will crush himself in the darkness of an absence of self-control, loneliness, insecurity, psychological knots, unGodly darkness, and the void of not knowing how to cope and deal with life.
My life must possess a greater meaning, depth mandatory, the opportunity to interact with life through love, to know and experience God intimately daily. That is the man I am. Shallow, superficial, hanging out having mindless fun, just being normal, absolutely does not work for me. I will destroy myself, or someone else, under such conditions. I will give an example of how my life must unfold. Today was an enlightening day, after an evening I almost pursued an avenue of excess, a superfluous Cistercian adventure, spiritual gluttony promoting self-love. The day after, starting with an early mass at St Stanislaus, things happened. At St Stanislus–a downtown Cleveland Polish parish, after mass, an elderly man accosted me. On the day of the celebration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, following upon the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a small intimate mass, the kissing of St Anthony of Padua relics after mass, a quaint was enjoyed. The old man followed me out of the church, uttering words desperate to be heard. I told him I would buy him breakfast at the Red Chimney, a local favorite diner just a block or so down 65th street if we met again, however today I was in a hurry to return to Toledo to visit my friend Janette. Janette, a Toledo friend, is a Polish first generation ninety-six year old woman. I told the man how pleased she would be by the St Stanislaus Shrine information brochure. I do not think the old man comprehended my words as he was so busy telling me about a chapel he restored on North Bass Island. His words were difficult to understand at times, and I was not quite sure why he was detailing to me his extensive effort to restore the Lake Erie island chapel, the incredible loss he took on the job. I do know he perfectly fit my personality type, and that every word from his mouth was a gift from God. Over and over, he assured me that he not only renovated the North Bass chapel, yet restored it to original grandeur, exactly what the church, architect, and builder intended. Though he complained extensively about losing over fifty thousand dollars on the job, and I am not sure he properly estimates his cost and labor, it is obvious he conducted a labor of love. He experienced something an old man could walk around after mass and badger others about. That is the depth and meaning I must be able to procure from life, the encountering of Divine Will.
The morning advanced into the afternoon with a Janette visit. I become nervous every time I visit. It has now been over three years of being bedridden. Ninety plus years of age, I fear for her condition upon approach, dreading the discovery of her name being removed from her door. Remarkably, I am always presented with a vibrant smile, a vivid mind full of memories, stories, and conversation. I see signs of the advanced state of being bedridden, an eye that no longer focuses, difficulty hearing, slow in motion, and a stench, yet overall the sight and conversation exercises the love I must have in order to bring meaning to life. Even now I thank God for allowing me the opportunity and insight to forego Missouri and pray the Rosary with Janette. Janette and I met through daily praying of the Rosary at St Adalbert’s in Toledo. I can remember the first time we met. Undergoing self-inflicted hell from a drinking binge, recovering, pulling my life together, I attended the mass in order to conduct a confession before Sunday mass. I knew St Adalbert’s held confession before the Sabbath celebration. After confession I prayed the Rosary with Janette. A stranger with a wonderful voice, she prayer one decade in English and the next in Polish. I found it profound to recite a decade and then hold silence during the foreign tongue. Praying the Rosary with Janette became habitual for a period in my life. Returning to St Adalbert’s in later years, the woman was missing. Exploring, searching for her identity, I learned she was placed in a nursing home. That is when I started visiting her. I credit her remarkable mental faculties and disposition at her age and condition upon her lifelong dedication to prayer. The woman is a testament to the power of prayer. The proper and most efficacious living of the spiritual life is through a vigorous prayer life. At times, I stare at Janette, pondering how can she be so peaceful, competent in thought and recollection, no touch of despair or depression, absolutely no self-pity, being bed-ridden for so long, facing death, knowing she will never leave that room. The boredom does not get to her. Despair does not touch her. This is a woman who watches no television. She still reads, loving mysteries and romances. She is such a treasure. Today during our Rosary she faltered a bit, stealing the lead from me during the third decade of the Glorious mysteries. Afterwards, we laughed about it. Before praying, I informed her I forgot to place a Rosary in my rental car. I knew she would have an extra. She handed me a beautiful blue lacy pouch containing a small feminine Rosary, one Ann made for her. I smiled, accepting the Rosary, registering her words that it is the one my friend made, listening to her comment how many people find the smaller Rosary unique and splendid. Her memory astounds me, and her consideration. Last Easter season I bought her an electronic candle Trinity arraignment. Over a year past, her first words upon seeing me today was an apology for not having my gift displayed. I chuckled, saying trust me no offense taken.
The Holy Spirit hovering, Divine Will tangible and caressing, I utilized the free rental car to move further north to visit my son in Ann Arbor. I have not been to Ann Arbor in over a decade or more. I was gratifyingly surprised. Ann Arbor has really prospered, the downtown vibrant and thriving. The restaurants, specialty stores, and ambiance present a cultured international cosmopolitan academic wonder. Ann Arbor is flourishing as a vivacious small Midwestern city. The people are a serious mix of ethnicity, culture, intellect and success, mixed with a proper amount of over-achieving artistically bent failure. A quick random greeting from a handsome physically fit oriental medical student can be appropriately followed by an older world-weary African American street gentleman sporting a crazy sparkly red clown hat sounding out a melodious Jazz tune upon his saxophone, his eyes imploring for a donation. My son’s home, his friend Emily the owner, startled me. Emily inherited the downtown home from her grandparents. She rents to a handful, exact number unknown, young adults, my son included. The home is huge and most impressively intelligently and efficiently cared for. I assisted with an electrical problem they were encountering, marveling at the recently updated electrical service feed, a precisely marked three hundred amp main electrical panel, feeding a smaller sub-panel for basement and outdoor usage. The basement was completely redone, hardwood floors installed and brick walls painted and waterproofed. Emily knows how to care for a turn of the century home. The house was mammoth, the layout millennial and brilliant. There is a vegetable greenhouse in the front yard, amidst flower beds. In the smaller, spaced utilized backyard, is clever chicken coop and fountain feeding a rock garden. Rhode Island Red chickens populate the idyllic environment. Beautiful. Inside the home, there are hydro gardens, an organized kitchen for gourmet cooking, fish aquariums, a sauna in the basement, books upon books, and other items and objects minds on fire for life need to possess. The young adults, millennials, I met were a bit intimidating with their intelligence, quick minds, education, and vibrancy to show themselves off. Crazy smart, highly educated, writers, a medical researcher, a historian, I found immense pleasure in conversation. Humbled, a bit sensitive regarding words, I felt self-conscious, on guard, not wanting to seem dumb. That is a pleasant change from my usual arrogant mindset. It is good to encounter highly intelligent minds exercising facilities to the highest degree. It properly places one in check. For myself, it provides the depth and meaning I must derive from life in order to stay sober and focused upon life. It was a maxim day of energizing contemplative efforts. I was pleased arriving in Temperance, Michigan, my mother’s home, to receive a text from Zack informing me his roommates, two attractive young ladies—pretty women are abundant in Ann Arbor—were fighting over the Michael Dibdin book detailing the adventures of Sherlock Holmes unmasking the murderous devilish corruptions of Jack the Ripper, a brilliant favorite writer taking on of the efforts of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I purchased the book for their home at a neat crime, detective, mystery used bookstore. The store owner engaging in conversation as she picked out mysteries set in the high middle ages for me. I responded to the text, informing him Dibdin only gets better in his Aurelio Zen series. A Michael Dibdin quote from the Ratking: “Criminals have the same aspirations as everyone else. That’s why they become criminals.”
The words mysticism and contemplation are essentially the same. Many mystical people are totally involved in affairs of the world. What makes them mystical is their great love of God and how their lives stem upward from the all-consumed love. We don’t have to grasp all the classic prescriptions on contemplation according to the master teachers, namely the saints known by their mysticism. It is not extraordinary that God is within and wants to speak to us, we need only to search within ourselves and discover that God may be calling us to a mystical life
There is an inordinate search for the mystical. Every bookstore has a section devoted to mysticism. The modern press moves us to conjure up strange images of weird psychics and phenomenal yogis performing feats that blow the mind. What I am discussing here is not the false mysticism of a fanatical movement that captivates a person and pulls them out of touch with reality. The mysticism that I will describe is not what drug enthusiasts call ‘tripping out’. It is more like ‘jumping in’. The contemporary hermit monk, William McNamara,OCD, author of numerous books on Christian mysticism, teaches;”The mystic is not an isolated thinker who simply loves to reflect, prowling around in the sanctuary of his own psyche. Most of the mystics I know are strong , robust and vibrant, almost fierce, obsessed with a Zorba-like, or better, Christ-like madness.”1
The authentic Christian mystic does not look for the extraordinary. A mystic has a direct intuition of ultimate reality and is convinced of his divine intimacy with God. The genuine mystic is known by joy, patience, trustfulness and peace.
Contemplation, although the highest form of prayer, is not an elite, lofty endeavor for special ‘holy’ people. It is for ordinary, happy, uncomplicated people who enjoy being with God.
Contemplation is a long, loving, listening, joyful look at the real God, at our real self,’at real people and at the real world. Down in the depths of contemplation, we play no games…. we are dealing there “in the sacred sanctuary of the core of our being,” says St. Augustine. Simply stated, it is a personal experience of God, a direct and immediate contact with the divine. It is as Moses experienced…seeing God face-to-face, not through a concept or an image but directly through faith. —Jacqueline Gallowy