A Bit More About My Italy Trip

Dear Friends

You may have remembered that I had asked you to pray for me in Arnoga.  I had a strong encounter not only with my sinfulness, but I was proposed something thre that caused great unease in my heart; not in the proposition, but, in the end, by the attachments ofmy heart.

As I said – I think! – I was quite unsettled there initially.  I attempted to even run away!  I tried to sneak out quietly: I had it all planned!  I got out without anyone noticing, got to the hotel across the street and asked for directions to the bus.  As I turned around to leave, there was Fr Servais!  It was a sort of Quo Vadis moment, except instead of Peter saying it to Jesus, it was the other way around.  Fr. Servais invited me to talk to him later and to not leave under distress.

I went to talk to him and it was there that I was made a proposition.  He saw in me a desire to live the counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience and saw that my time with them revealed to me what the extreme dedication to the Lord looks like concretely.  He advised me to pray about perhaps joining the Casa for a bit of time to help those desires to live for the Lord more intimately to grow.

I had known about the Casa for a while, and I had contemplated on joining it at one point.  It is a house of spiritual and intellectual formation in the life of the counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience.  The Casa Balthasar was founded in 1990 by then Cardinal Ratzinger, then Fr. Christoph Schonborn, Fr. Fessio, and Fr. Servais.

I began to pray about whether or not I should take some time off from seminary to go there.  Initially, I had no desire to go!  I was missing Canada, familiar food, friends, family, and English!

I began, though, to really devote my time to prayer and discernment.  I could not allow my attachments to be the determining factor between whether or not I should.  The only thing I needed to base my decision on was the Lord.

I prayed and then I prayed some more!  On the Friday I had a sudden urge come over me to follow Jesus through Mary, to say yes to God like Mary did: to leave all and follow Him.  I mistook that desire for going to Rome (where the Casa is located), and thought my answer must be yes, that I would go to Rome.  This caused a huge emotional stir within me and was a bit of an emotional wreck that night.

The next day, though, I was really depressed!  I thought “what a crazy and stupid thing that was to do!”In essence, on both days I didn’t really have the necessary indifference.  I was attached to myself in extreme ways on both sides.

It was once I realized this that the Lord began to do His work on me.  He began to talk to me about abandonment and gratitude (something I spoke up in an earlier post).  It was not untile the evening before I left that I began to become indifferent in the Ignatian sense of the term.  I finally came to a place where I could give everything to the Lord.

I left on Sunday and then the time of solitude I had on the trains I devoted to now building on that indifference that began to work on me on the Saturday night, to see what the Lord wanted.

Before I continue, I must quickly say that the reason this discernment had to be done in such a hurried way was because Fr. Servais wanted an answer from me once my time in Lourdes had ended.

In the end, the Lord didn’t give me a direct answer.  I could only make a decision based on the inclination of my heart.  My inclination was that I should not go.  I am pretty sure there was no attachment in that decision, and so the Lord knows I made that decision in good faith.

I came to the decision and that decision was made in good faith with a clear conscience.  Because of that I am beginning to see, more and more, how it seems that the Lord used all this to begin a lot of purifying in me.  The work is always “in progress”, but it was an intense push more closely to the Lord.

I pray that, as I come down from the mountaintop, that I will be faithful to the resolutions the Lord put in my heart.  I ask for your prayers too as I attempt to be more devoted to the Lord.

in Christ

-Harrison

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