We shall never succeed in knowing ourselves unless we seek to know God: let us think of his greatness and then come back to our own baseness; by looking at his purity we shall see our foulness; by meditating upon his humility, we shall see how far we are from being humble.
If we turn from self towards God, our understanding and our will become nobler and readier to embrace all that is good: if we never rise above the slough of our own miseries we do ourselves a great disservice. –Teresa of Avila ‘Interior Castle’
Getting to know myself, it is good to return to routine and schedule, allowing my focus to effectively return to God. Yesterday marvelous, extending myself socially exhausts me. A wonderful day, it is good to return to that which brings the greatest depth to life: the Eucharist, prayer and meditation, mass with the Poor Clares. Routine: morning coffee and today a cinnamon roll gifted from Carter’s girlfriend upon visiting a Toledo bakery we discussed; reflection upon my life, avoiding self-absorption, exercise—walk/jog in Cain Park and onto St Paul’s for mass and adoration. It is good to return to that which provides structure, the establishing of closure. Dr. Nichta defines my effective mode of living…primary mode of living is focused internally, where you take things in via your five senses in a literal, concrete fashion. Your secondary mode is external, where you deal with things rationally and logically.
The negative aspect of my personality must be realized. I am not naturally in tune with my feelings, nor the feelings of others. Too much social activity reinforces unconstructive tendencies. I lose a bit of focus upon propriety if I spend too much time with others. At St Paul’s, a celebration of baptism occurred after mass. There was a group of attractive proper young women attending, all in fine dresses, appearing exquisite. I was overwhelmed by the experience, distracted, uncomfortable, made weary by the women. Later at the Cathedral, a woman wearing yoga pants assisted the young man selling olive wood finery from Bethlehem. It took a serious effort not to stare at the assistant. For all the spiritual progress I make, concentrating my Lady Undoer of Knots novena upon loneliness and lust, a warfare still takes place. I should add these struggles occurred while thoroughly enjoying the companionship of Carol, whose trust, admiration, support and friendship grows with every encounter. Prayer, quiet time, reading, writing allows my natural tendencies to center myself upon God. There is a delicate balance establishing healthy mental effectiveness. I feel blessed to have discovered the retreat, a week focused upon reflection and prayer—religious pursuits; study, writing and prayer, while centered amidst a structured Catholic environment: scheduled meals, daily activities, mass with the sisters, overall a healthy large social gathering, including group meals. My expectations are low, demanding only seclusion and Catholic structure: a balancing between isolation and community. Anything beyond and above, I am considering a bonus.
The title Our Lady of the Pines originates from a fifteenth century Mary apparition on the Canary Islands, located between Morocco and Spain. A link to the Basilica del Pino official website.