Monastic Notes (Pt.21—July 13th 2011)
(Pecos: Day 24—July 13th 2011)
A second great day of lectures with Fr. Meninger today with continued conversation in the Stages of Spiritual Development. We picked up where we left off yesterday after talking about the progressions and levels of a relationship. Today we discussed the “Levels of Love” described by St. William of Thiery.
- Attraction—given to men by God; God gives men desire for Himself; it is a grace and it is gifted.
- Clinging—a deeper level of love; we “cling” to God through distractions, disturbances, etc. (I especially loved the example used for this level by Fr. Meninger when he was questioned about disturbances and distractions drawing us closer to God. He described the way a child, who is in the arms of a parent, tightens their grip when someone tries to pull them from the arms of the parent).
- Enjoyment—”faith with feeling,” aka ecstasies; a type of joy experienced even in pleasure or pain.
- Union of Wills—the highest level/experience of love; when we cannot love any more, but to only experience the will or do the will of the other (in this case, God).
One concept that is unique to the Christian experience is the way God communicates with and reveals Himself to humanity; He communicates Himself primarily through the virtues of faith, hope, and love. The experience of relationship with God is made available through these virtues and proves the ultimate goal, union with God, both possible and worth pursuing.
Personal Reflections and Recollections:
I’ve been reading a book by Ronald Rolheiser, The Restless Heart, one I’ve really enjoyed. There are great thoughts in it that help to shed light on the restlessness of our souls and why it exists. Additionally, I have gleaned inspiration from the book to develop a retreat program that is centered around this “restless and lonely” heart dilemma. A quote from the book triggered the following thoughts:
“The pain of stopping our pursuit of activity and entering alone and in silence to ourselves is the very experience of purgatory.” -Ronald Rolheiser; The Restless Heart
It is in this silence that God begins to reveal the false self(s) we have created for ourselves or the false self(s) we have been given and attempted to “live into.” It is in this silence that God reveals to us the places which need healing, surrendered, and matured… In all these revelations there is deep and difficult work; there is necessity for discipline and commitment. With this realization there is understanding for the fear that rises up in us when we approach or enter into this holy silence, but there is also infinite and divine hope; for it is God that draws us into this silence and it is God that embraces us in it. It is in this silence that the Master Creator-Healer-Restorer gently and lovingly restores His prized and cherished child—you and me. Trust and surrender to Him moves us ever closer to the ultimate fulfillment every human being desires, the rest and restored fellowship…eternal fellowship, with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—eternal reconciliation with our Triune Creator.
A Prayer of Psalms—
I call with my whole heart; answer me, O LORD, that I may keep your statutes. Hosanna, LORD, hosanna! LORD, send us now success. For He Himself knows whereof we are made; He remembers that we are but dust. Remember your word to your servant, because you have given me hope. This is my comfort in my trouble, that your promise gives me life. I remember your Name in the night, O LORD, and dwell upon your law. You only are my portion, O LORD, I have promised to keep your words. I have considered my ways and turned my feet toward your decrees. Teach me discernment and knowledge, for I have believed in your commandments. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word. The law of your mouth is dearer to me than thousands in gold and silver. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be; world without end. Amen. (Psalm 119:45; Psalm 118:25; Psalm 103:14; Psalm 119:49-50, 55, 57, 59, 66, 67, 72).