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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Disfigured Bride

I'm completely at odds with myself, and even with God right now, and all evening I've been completely unsettled.

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 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.

"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."

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. 


Joe @ Defend Us In Battle said...

Oh how your posts make me ponder my own faith. Not that it shakes my faith in a way that I fear its collapse, but instead in the way that I ponder whether I have spent the effort to create a secure foundation.

I think that the questioning you do in your mind and heart shows your committment to ensure that your faith is true. Many can walk around in seeming security, but in reality they are walking around with a mask on.

You are in my prayers.

Abbey's Road said...

I have a feeling that you are being much too hard on yourself. The fact that you struggle with this let's our Loving Father know how very, very much you love Him. We should always keep our eye on Him in all things; however, we are all human, secular or not. You are so good, Adoro, and I pray for your peace of heart.

Thank you for your Lenten wishes and I pray for your Lenten Journey as well. You ARE a beautiful child.


Adoro said...

Abbey ~ In the words of Jesus himself, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone."

I am not good. I am a sinner, with a fallen nature. Sin disfigures us in ways we can't imagine. If that is true, and if I am not a disfigured sinner, then why did Christ die?

I quoted St. Catherine of Siena, and in that book, God the Father revealed the disfigured face of the Church, which includes each and every member of the Mystical Body.

Please don't tell me I'm "beautiful". I am better able to comment on the state of my own soul than you are, and I'm pretty certain you probably know the state of your own soul as well and probably don't need my own commentary on yours. I wouldn't even attempt such a thing.

I don't want "peace of heart" when I've been spending Lent praying for my own interior conversion....and perhaps it is happening. I hope you can understand that.

Please don't be fooled by what I write on my blog; just because many things are pious-sounding doesn't mean that I am living up to them. I often write as a way to preach to myself, to hold myself to a standard I hope to meet....even if I fail in every moment.

That's what "disfigured" means, and that's why Christ died for us. He himself became disfigured in His Passion so that we could gaze upon Him and recognize the reflection of our own souls upon His Sacred Body.

Rae said...

I don't know that I have anything to offer, other than prayers, as I myself am fairly lost. One thing that I thought of, however, when you said how afraid you are that you will be unable to put your education into action as you ought, is how afraid I have been during periods of training in my life. True, they were small tasks compared to yours, but what I have found is that it gets easier with time and practice. As you say, we can never pay our debt to God, but that is why Christ came. We just have to maintain the hope that if we do our best, it will be accepted. Was it St. Therese who said that we can't all be roses, but God made the simple flowers of the field as well? A mother gets more joy from the dandelions picked by a loving son than all the roses in the world given only for appearances.

Adoro said...

Rae ~ I'm sorry, I obviously can't seem to be clear on this in my posts, but everyone seems to want to focus, every time I bring up "eduction" that I'm "afraid I can't put it into practice as I want." That's not it at all.

The focus of THIS post is about the recognition of who I am both as a member of the Mystical Body of Christ and as an individual alone before God, along with the gifts I have been given....and the weight of responsibility that goes with that.

It is not a request for prayer or a cry for help. It is musing on the realities of life with an eye to eternity.

On St. Therese' of Lisieux, yes that was her, and she said she was a thistle. For myself, I once wrote a very long post on how I am a dandelion in God's garden, the virtues of the dandelion, and in fact, lol, how much my mom and dad loved getting dandelions as gifts from us! ROFL!