Thursday, September 8, 2005

From my brain to my heart

"Liberty is a detachment of the Christian heart from all things to follow the known will of God."

-- St. Francis de Sales, [source unknown -- EBB]

"[I]f you would progress a long way on this road and ascend to the [Spiritual] Mansions of your desire, the important thing is not to think much, but to love much; do, then, whatever most arouses you to love. ... [L]ove consists, not in the extent of our happiness, but in the firmness of our determination to try to please God in everything, and to endeavour, in all possible ways, not to offend Him, and to pray Him ever to advance the honour and glory of His Son and the growth of the Catholic Church. Those are the signs of love; do not imagine that the important thing is never to be thinking of anything else and that if your mind becomes slightly distracted all is lost. "

-- St. Teresa of Avila, one of my new favorite siblings, The Interior Castle, Fourth Mansion, chap. 1, 8

"I abandoned myself and forgot myself
Laying my face on my beloved;
All things ceased; I went out from myself,
Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies."

-- St. John of the Cross, another of my new favorite siblings, Ascent of Mount Carmel, stanza 66

As regular FCA readers probably know, I have a great interest in and love for the Jesuits.[1] Reading a collection of St. Ignatius's personal writings (recollections, letters, etc.) while I was in Europe, I have come to love Ignatius himself all the more as one of my dearest (celestial) spiritual fathers. Interestingly, I also have recently discovered a connection between the Jesuits and my patron saint, St. Francis de Sales, namely, that St. Francis was educated by Jesuits! (But of course!) This makes perfect sense (to me), as his Ignatian background carried over quite markedly into St. Francis's loving, heroic call to holiness for all walks of life. Add to these discoveries a study by Fr. François Charmot, SJ, Ignatius Loyola and Francis de Sales: Two Masters, One Spirituality (see also my Amazon Wish List), and I have gained insight into what my "own" spirituality is: practical, common-sensical, apostolic, driven by an interdisciplinary (if I may put it that way) pursuit of excellence, all with a heavy ballast of "sensual" (i.e., imaginative-meditative) biblical prayer and an unflinching existential taste for the often very "ordinary" efforts of holiness. In a word, I am an Ignatian-Salesian type of Christian ... I think. (Of course, from what little I know of the spirituality, I may just as easily add "Carmelite" to my spiritual make-up, since I've grown in the last few years to have quite a Carmelite taste for the paradoxical desolation, darkness, dryness and stillness of living the divine life.)

All these insights are but a few of the *numerous* changes and steps of growth God has wrought in me -- to my own great surprise! -- in the wake of World Youth Day. The quotes above are meant to capture some of where God is guiding me: from my brain (i.e., from my highly self-conceptualized Self), to my heart, to the smallness of Myself-in-God. As I continue to "shrink", please pray for me. Your support does, and will, add to the adventurous joy that is sanctification, "the ascent" of theosis. An increase in Eucharistic Adoration, worshipping in the Mass, and Cnofession have, of course, played an already remarkable role in this growth.


[1] To any "Jesuitaphobes" out there, remember the next time you want to roll your eyes at "the latest Jesuit nonsense" that Mother Teresa's spiritual director was himself a Jesuit. ;)

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