In hopes of finding SOMETHING to focus me, maybe in helping me to figure out some sort of "direction", I went to visit a particular blog, and to my surprise found that author had liked one of my comments and highlighted it in a post. I can't link to the post, as it's a "protected" blog, but here is what I said that day:
St. Catherine of Siena, in "Dialogue" wept about this very problem, and others, to God, and He responded, "It is by thy tears and thy sweat that the face of my Bride will be cleansed and restored."
I keep trying to remember that, and then from moment to moment, I don't know if I'm the Disfigured one or the one weeping and sweating and bleeding...and find that it is all the same thing.
If I stop to ponder this too long, like Hamlet, I lose the name of action.
As I looked at my own forgotten words, I was stricken to my very soul. I often meditate on that image from St. Catherine of Siena, and in fact, am using that quote (although the ACTUAL words!) in one of my papers.
As I've gotten closer and closer to the end of my studies, as I've considered the change in my own attitudes over the years, the people I've met online and and in real life, the internet assumptions of what's going on in the Church versus the lived reality in the trenches, the reality not witnessed by the vast majority of the blogosphere....I have quite literally wept for the Church.
No, I haven't wept out of holy charity like St. Catherine of Siena, but out of frustration at the growing chasm between Faith and secular "life" and the indifference of those who are the most educated and yet...still the least willing to put knowledge into practice.
I have felt overwhelmed not just by reality, but but the formal realization that if I am called to obtain this education, then I am required to place it into use...and I'm terrified. In Jesus' own words, "To whom much is given, much is expected."
I've been given so much, and while the financial debt of my education over the years has grown to impossibility, it's the spiritual debt that terrifies me the most. It's the spiritual debt I know I can never pay, and am not sure I can shoulder, that perhaps is part of this "wall" I'm hitting in my studies right now.
When I look at my paraphrase of St. Catherine of Siena's words, knowing the context of it, I realize that I am at an impasse; critical juncture transcending both my spiritual life and my physical life and all the details that follow along.
Oh, the great and unending irony! The more I consider the very deep wounds of the Mystical Body of Christ, how they reflect upon the wounds suffered by Our Lord Jesus, the more my studies force me to step back and take in the vast expanse that is the Church...and the more I see, both in the "big picture" and in the individual members...the more I recognize how great is the need for workers in the vineyard...including me.
It's like trying to focus my eyes on a subject both near and far...and even as the observer, I am the subject.
I can't even mention the harvest, for sometimes there don't seem to be enough workers who want to bother with planting....so never mind the harvest.
The more I recognize regarding the state of the Mystical Body as a whole and the individual state of souls, the more I realize that I am one of them, too, in just as much, if not more, need of grace and forgiveness.
Truly, I am at odds. I don't know how it's possible for me, as fallen and Disfigured as I am, to be able to offer any tears and sweat to cleanse the face of the Bride.
It is in this seeming dichotomy that I am lost, and so, like Hamlet, in my studies and in my spiritual life I hit a wall and default to inaction.
The Lessons of Lent: Survival and Dependence on God are the Same Thing
If we come to the end of Lent and don't realize that we need a Savior, we have missed the point.
I've known for many years that when I am overwhelmed, in a sense I "shut down." It can be a good thing in survival in certain cases, but it can also be deadly.
Perhaps what God is trying to reveal to me is to lean on Him more, to recognize in a very real way that I CAN'T do any of it....but He can. I still don't know how to "let go." I still don't know how to let Him take the load. I can "pray things away" to Him all the time, but if I don't open my own deathgrip so that He can take the burden, it is as if I chain Him in the prison of His Passion, refusing to allow the Resurrection.
I can't figure out in my own actual practice, the line between the heresy of Quietism and the grace Contemplative Action. It's not something that can be taught, but rather, a swamp we must all find our way through at some point in our lives. Maybe several times. It is in this muck that we finally find our way, if only we can focus on the Cross and Resurrection.
I think that what I said that night in my comment is true, but I'm going to have to really stop and consider my own words, knowing even though I once "spoke" them, I've never had the courage to face them. Maybe now it's time.
Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.
I pray you are all having a blessed Lent. If you find that you are both the Bride and the Disfigured, you are not alone, but I leave it to you to decide whether you are in good company or not.
*** Theological Note: As human beings, we are ALL disfigured by sin. The word "disfigured" is used by God the Father in St. Catherine of Siena's "Dialogue" and speaks not just of the Mystical Body as a whole, but of individuals in need of conversion. That's all of us. We are ALL the "Disfigured Bride". Only The Blessed Mother never matched that description.