As a true Savior, as a Physician as firm as He is wise and discreet, He applies the fire and the iron now to this place, now to that, but particularly there where His practiced eye sees faults to be expiated, defects to be corrected or a weak point to be strengthened. In spite of the protests of nature, He will continue the treatment with a merciful severity, so long as He judges it necessary to complete our cure and to dispose us for the reception of His gifts…God wills to temper and to tame it (self-will)….There can be no greater or livelier faith than to believe that God is managing our affairs with admirable wisdom and love when He seems to be destroying and annihilating us, when He frustrates our holiest designs, when He exposes us to calumny, obscures all our lights in prayer, dries up our devotion and fervor with aridities, ruins our health with infirmities and languors, reduces us to incapacity for doing anything at all. –Abbot Vital Lehodey.
Within all that is created exist goodness, a Divinely intended purpose. Passion, a part of creation, possesses spiritually furthering attributes. Passion can be recognized in a twofold manner, a positive and negative affecting. Benefiting, Irascibilis, spirited resistance, fortitude, a passionate approach to life endures one to become a warrior for Christ, a fighter within the Church Militant. Plaguing, Concupisciblis, concupiscence, the furies, fiery emotion and lust, passion that devours, burning, torching, never quenching, demanding and then demanding more, never reposing into satisfaction, always needing more—a helpless addict. Passion, two-fold powerful, propelling progressing or regressing, freedom or enslavement, life or death, salvation or damnation. The determining factor tipping scales being adherence to Divine will.
Can I discern properly, utilizing the Divine will of good pleasure, the events and happenings of my life, nothing being a coincidence, to cultivate a love for God and my neighbor? The signified will: commandments, teachings of the Church, scripture, the writings of doctors, saints, and consecrated ones of the Church, ‘Stand in the assembly of the elders. Who is wise? Cleave to him’ (Sirach 6:34), the signified will, undoubtedly, undeniably, clearly, details the commandments and ways of God. It is easy to know for those who seek. A yes is an obvious yes, and a no is an obvious no. The Divine will of good pleasure presents complexities, a dangerous arena to release passions upon. Misfortune, lust, sensual pleasure, success, failure, skills and accomplishment all blind, detouring one away from the signified will of God. As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the delight in riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
All my efforts toward a scholarly knowing of God, practicing of prayer, either sweet or sour consolations, prove meaningless if I do not learn to harness my passions. The key is not to crush passion, yet to utilize the God given gift of a passionate nature to become strong in Christ. My passion must be tamed, steered toward the holy, given a mission rather than repressed. A passion for the passion of Christ ruling. My thoughts go to non-Catholic thought.
Plato, through Socrates in the dialog ‘Phaedrus’ offers ancient wisdom before the incarnation of Christ. First words from the Catechism.
843 The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved. Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as “a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life.”
844 In their religious behavior, however, men also display the limits and errors that disfigure the image of God in them:
867 The Church is holy: the Most Holy God is her author; Christ, her bridegroom, gave himself up to make her holy; the Spirit of holiness gives her life. Since she still includes sinners, she is “the sinless one made up of sinners.” Her holiness shines in the saints; in Mary she is already all-holy.
868 The Church is catholic: she proclaims the fullness of the faith. She bears in herself and administers the totality of the means of salvation. She is sent out to all peoples. She speaks to all men. She encompasses all times. She is “missionary of her very nature” (AG 2).
Now back to thoughts on the driving of the two forms of passion, mortification, and the taming of Concupisciblis. Plato’s ‘Phaedrus’:
Of the nature of the soul, though her true form be ever a theme of large and more than mortal discourse, let me speak briefly, and in a figure. And let the figure be composite—a pair of winged horses and a charioteer. Now the winged horses and the charioteers of the gods are all of them noble and of noble descent, but those of other races are mixed; the human charioteer drives his in a pair; and one of them is noble and of noble breed, and the other is ignoble and of ignoble breed; and the driving of them of necessity gives a great deal of trouble to him.
As I said at the beginning of this tale, I divided each soul into three—two horses and a charioteer; and one of the horses was good and the other bad: the division may remain, but I have not yet explained in what the goodness or badness of either consists, and to that I will now proceed. The right-hand horse is upright and cleanly made; he has a lofty neck and an aquiline nose; his colour is white, and his eyes dark; he is a lover of honour and modesty and temperance, and the follower of true glory; he needs no touch of the whip, but is guided by word and admonition only. The other is a crooked lumbering animal, put together anyhow; he has a short thick neck; he is flat-faced and of a dark colour, with grey eyes and blood-red complexion (Or with grey and blood-shot eyes.); the mate of insolence and pride, shag-eared and deaf, hardly yielding to whip and spur. Now when the charioteer beholds the vision of love, and has his whole soul warmed through sense, and is full of the prickings and ticklings of desire, the obedient steed, then as always under the government of shame, refrains from leaping on the beloved; but the other, heedless of the pricks and of the blows of the whip, plunges and runs away, giving all manner of trouble to his companion and the charioteer, whom he forces to approach the beloved and to remember the joys of love. They at first indignantly oppose him and will not be urged on to do terrible and unlawful deeds; but at last, when he persists in plaguing them, they yield and agree to do as he bids them. And now they are at the spot and behold the flashing beauty of the beloved; which when the charioteer sees, his memory is carried to the true beauty, whom he beholds in company with Modesty like an image placed upon a holy pedestal. He sees her, but he is afraid and falls backwards in adoration, and by his fall is compelled to pull back the reins with such violence as to bring both the steeds on their haunches, the one willing and unresisting, the unruly one very unwilling; and when they have gone back a little, the one is overcome with shame and wonder, and his whole soul is bathed in perspiration; the other, when the pain is over which the bridle and the fall had given him, having with difficulty taken breath, is full of wrath and reproaches, which he heaps upon the charioteer and his fellow-steed, for want of courage and manhood, declaring that they have been false to their agreement and guilty of desertion. Again they refuse, and again he urges them on, and will scarce yield to their prayer that he would wait until another time. When the appointed hour comes, they make as if they had forgotten, and he reminds them, fighting and neighing and dragging them on, until at length he on the same thoughts intent, forces them to draw near again. And when they are near he stoops his head and puts up his tail, and takes the bit in his teeth and pulls shamelessly. Then the charioteer is worse off than ever; he falls back like a racer at the barrier, and with a still more violent wrench drags the bit out of the teeth of the wild steed and covers his abusive tongue and jaws with blood, and forces his legs and haunches to the ground and punishes him sorely. And when this has happened several times and the villain has ceased from his wanton way, he is tamed and humbled, and follows the will of the charioteer, and when he sees the beautiful one he is ready to die of fear. And from that time forward the soul of the lover follows the beloved in modesty and holy fear.
Bitterness and vexation at what humbles us are simply the workings of pride, just as bitterness and vexation at what hurts us are the fruits of impatience. –Abbot Vital Lehodey
This quote is harsh, yet essential. It applies to myself, to all pursuing the contemplative path. It must not be applied to others, rather within myself the purging must center.
The pursuit of the good is not true charity when we pursue it with an unholy intention, or even when we pursue it for its own sake. Divine charity does undoubtedly will the good but only for God’s sake. What discouragements, what jealousies, what pettiness do we not witness among those who are more attached to the good than to the will of God! Their efforts in well-doing often miscarry and they are disappointed and depressed. They observe others participating in their enterprises and they grow jealous. In order to succeed in their undertakings, they do not scruple to discredit or to oppose their collaborators in the same grand work, the work of redemption of immortal souls. They just love themselves and prefer the human good to the divine. They pretend to be going towards Jesus Christ, but they make an easy and often devious detour which brings them back to themselves. They do not know how wide a difference there is between the man devoted to good and the man of God. How many workers, brilliant in outward show, remain barren in results, because the love of self, rather than the love of God, has had the chief influence in forming and inspiring them? –Abbot Vital Lehodey ‘The Way That Leads To God’.
Lay me bare, inflict the wound of preciseness,
Lord, You know me too well, understanding my pride,
Need. Cleverness too easy to appease,
Effortlessly extolling the spiritual, relishing the intellect denouncing,
The intellect. Know not the softer easier way.
The spiritual life too easy, escapism, problematic avoiding,
Lord what do You see?
Allow me not to become insane in Your eyes,
My glaring weaknesses, what is it that stops unification,
What is it that will not cease that You despise,
What stops me from loving you as deeply as You deserve?
There is something.
Many things there are.
Give me the strength Lord to focus,
Not to wallow in the glory, rather to reveal the ugly,
Now standing upon dirt, apply the fire,
Purge ugliness and unrepentant sin,
Purgatory here upon the earth!
Help me Lord to:
Purify the putrid, open festering wounds.
Cut loose that which weakens, scattering virtue to the wind,
Mortify appetite, reject the pronunciation of pretty words,
Alienate articulation, inflict fear upon the tongue,
Cut away the smallest traces, abandon idealism,
Stupefy the mind so I can concentrate.
The tiniest infraction magnify.
While time still exist, make the most of confessing.
The sacraments healing, the Church abiding,
Cast away reputation, interject humiliation,
Allow the eternal to dictate every ebb and flow.
Never let me forget the never ending.
In You Lord, I adore keenly criticizing myself.
Thy will be done. God determines my cross, my appropriate suffering. Self-imposed misery, self-induced suffering is not redemptive. Despair, hopelessness, are perversions, diverse from God’s order. Self-seeking and rationalization inflict personal elevation, spiritually devastating, blinding understanding. To ask God to forgive those who I perceive to have sinned against me, yet in truth have done me no harm, is an affront to God. To play the victim over and over is to be a spiritual coward. To be a martyr when God does not call for one is poor discernment. My faith is not a means of self-justification. My trust in God simplifies, inducing kindness, a disposition others are able to trust. If complexity, strangeness, and a vacillating nature are the results of my spiritual efforts, self-will rules. If people find me vague, incomprehensible, moody, difficult to deal with my spiritual life is out of balance. Do not create suffering. Allow God to provide proper suffering. He will oblige.
Doing research for Unlikely Wanderer, ideas were presented paralleling my thoughts on head, heart, and hand. The Jewish tradition of adorning oneself with the Shema powerfully connects the head, heart, and hand with the greatest commandment of God, Deuteronomy 6:4-9. In my fiction piece on Bogdan, the Dacian youth, the Old Israelite utilizes the tefillin. I thoroughly enjoy when my Catholic faith connects with the Jewish faith.
You have a brain. It is in one world. Your heart is in another. And your hands often end up involved in something completely foreign to both of them. Three diverse machines.
So you put on tefillin. First thing in the day, you connect your head, your heart and your hand with these leather cables—all to work as one, with one intent. And then, when you go out to meet the world, all your actions find harmony in a single coordinated purpose…
Link to website: Tefillin