Thursday, November 6, 2008

Still grappling with that first Beatitude...

Still in the fog of thoughts and emotions around my mother's death, family health issues, the culture of death, the death of TEC, etc., I was challenged again by the Lord's words on All Saints' Sunday:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:3

I found some help in an old friend:

He then says that the way is narrow -- that is to say, the way of perfection -- in order to make it clear that, to travel upon the way of perfection, the soul has not only to enter by the strait gate, emptying itself of things of sense, but has also to straiten itself, freeing and disencumbering itself completely in that which pertains to the spirit. And thus we can apply what He says of the strait gate to the sensual part of man; and what He says of the narrow road we can understand of the spiritual or the rational part; and, when He says 'Few there are that find it,' the reason of this must be noted, which is that there are few who can enter, and desire to enter, into this complete detachment and emptiness of spirit. For this path ascending the high mountain of perfection leads upward, and is narrow, and therefore requires travellers that have no burden weighing upon them with respect to lower things, neither aught that embarrasses them with respect to higher things: and, as this is a matter wherein we must seek after and attain to God alone, God alone must be the object of our search and attainment.
St. John of the Cross, The Ascent of Mount Carmel II.VII.3


Anonymous said...

Rick H, says,

We are all spiritually impoverished. It is a great blessing to REALIZE we are spiritually impoverished. It is when we think we are spiritually wealthy that our souls are in peril.

We are all drowning. We are all threatened by the ruler of this world. We cannot save ourselves, but if we are deceived into thinking we can save ourselves we will inevitably turn away from the Only One who actually can save us. We must come to him in weakness, not pretended strength.

TLF+ said...

Thanks, Rick H -

I wonder if we really are spiritually impoverished. I wonder if so much of what we have via the church is like a house full of luxury items (including full pantry and wine cellar).

John of the Cross was treated shamefully by the church in his day. He discovered much about emptiness while confined to an especially disgusting cell. Much of his mystical insight came via this experience.

As a spiritual director, he advised people to regularly abandon favorite prayer chapels or devotional items - our favorite comfort items (including spiritual ones)can become the heavy baggage that hinders our ascent toward God.

But thinkin' out loud is all I'm doing here. Definitely in the fog right now.

Anonymous said...

Rick H:

It depends of course what you mean by "spiritually impoverished." To me it means being at the end of my "in my own strength" rope. Desperately needing to turn to Another. Because all my own devices have been exposed as so much dust and ashes.

Praying for you and with you.