Reordering a personal and spiritual life

You know that, though your spiritual center of gravity has been displaced, in your new circumstances you have the same solid foundation.  There is a way of fusing contemplation and action so that all becomes contemplation, an awareness of the presence of God, strengthened by a ceaseless prayer of oblation.  To be at the Lord’s disposal, to surrender to Him, ready to do whatever He wants, to give oneself over and over again, and to be accepted by Him often for unrewarding work with people, this is no small thing and it throws one still more completely into Our Lord’s arms.

What an incentive this is to reduce our ego in order to let Christ grow and work in us.  People have, as it were, an antenna to pick up the waves of Christ in us.  But to be picked up, the waves must be there.  Yes, I will pray a great deal for the new apostolate to which you are called by the Church, that is, by Christ. 

…at last you have found Christ.  It is in the darkness, in the darkness of our whole selves—the night of St John of the Cross—that He wants to be sought and found.  But often we do not look for Him there, because it is ourselves that we are seeking in Him.

“Where were you, O Christ, while I was desperately struggling to hold on to you?”  “I was near you, my child.  If I had not helped you, you would have lost me, I would no longer be yours…”  This is a dialogue between Jesus and St Catherine of Siena.  She had lived through a temptation in which she felt that no trace of Christ remained in her.

–Random words from two letters of Father Albert Peyriguere in his book ‘Voice From the Desert’

I was thinking about the lack of reading, writing and time I am being allowed to dedicate to the contemplative life.  It has been seriously reduced.  I decipher it as the will of God.  I went to Father Peyriguere’s letters in regards to the fact he went off to the desert to follow Charles de Foucauld, desiring to live the life of a desert hermit, only to experience the life of a missionary caregiver to the local Berbers.  Daily, he was inundated with the poor, sick, and needy demanding his time and attention.  He found no time for the life of a desert hermit.  The way he wanted to approach God–good, moral, and righteous–was not what God asked from him.  I laughed during today’s Gospel reading.  Father Roger’s foreign tongue accenting perfectly the question posed by the Sons of Thunder, the blessed apostle brothers James and John, two of my favorites, the saint of my mother’s country Spain and the contemplative mystic.   Hearing their words to Our Lord, the way Father Roger read it, I laughed, thinking they did not really say that did they?  Here is the demand: “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”  It still makes me laugh.  Ohh, how we must make God laugh, and frustrate Him.  My reflections, during mass, moved to my encounter with Father Reymann, one of his parishioners, and his bulldog in Wellington, Ohio.  It dawned on me what an enlightening moment God presented.  The elder priest, the oldest in the Cleveland diocese, came at me in such a friendly, welcoming comical manner he disarmed me, allowing me to be a small little man of no consequence.  He just kept talking.  I did not have to be anything.  I did not have to act like a Church scholar, a writer, a contemplative, a man discerning a religious vocation, the possibilities existing through the Hospice, nothing.  I did not have to be anything special at all.  The reality struck me as we talked, and I found myself playing a little with the situation.  He showed me the small hidden chapel he created behind the main sanctuary.  I asked him if he celebrated daily mass here.  He said yes.  I then asked awkwardly, due to the fact there was very limited seating, if the public was invited.  He looked at me as if I was mentally deranged, remarking: ‘You ask some really odd questions.  Of course the public is invited.  What do you think I lock the doors, celebrate mass by myself, not allowing anyone else to join me?’  I could only laugh which in reflection was just about the first moment his bulldog took a running start before throwing himself into my back with both of his front paws.  Throughout the splendid fellowship, I made a vow to remain simple, not to convey in the slightest regard a position of being knowledgeable about faith, hope, or charity.  The reason I brought up the Shrine was the fact he asked me what parish I belonged to.  The overall message I am presenting is the living of a hidden life of smallness, the true being of who I am in the eyes of God, is not a clever option amongst many options chosen by a man of brilliance.  I do not become small through my magnificence.  I do not educate my way into spiritual poverty.  It is a ‘becoming’ through purification, illumination, and on into unification.  Mass and adoration has become the centering point of my efforts, the time of transformation.  Must run off to work, my time is limited.  It will be even more limited once the Hospice calls.  I eagerly wait upon the challenge.

Father Reymann J


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