I know. It’s been a while. Mea Culpa.
There has been a need for me to distance for a bit from writing on my blog. Life gets busy, and new challenges have been thrown my way. I am currently not only working on my MDiv, but my MTh as well. Seminary commitments as well as parish commitments – not to mention attempting to stay in touch with friends both within and outside Edmonton: all of these contribute to a busyness of life that can be difficult to balance. But I love to blog and do want to do it more than I have, but I am trying to remain faithful to my most fundamental duties in seminary life. So if time allows, I blog. If not, then so be it.
This past weekend, we had our monthly recollection at the seminary. This is a monthly period of 24 hours in which we attempt to embrace silence, to be alone with the Lord, to pray, and, frankly, to sleep. This weekend we had the theme of discernment. On Friday night, one of the formation team members gave a very good talk on Ignatian discernment. He discussed the nature of discernment for St Ignatius, the concepts of desolation and consolation, and, unexpectedly, had a very good talk on how to deal with inordinate attachments. On Saturday, we had a talk by one of the other Deacons, giving a sort of testimony about how his discernment process worked, and we ended off the day with a holy hour and evening prayer.
I do not know why, but that recollection had a very positive effect on me. I do not recall anything from the talks striking my heart like a bolt of lightning, nor do I remember God moving me to embrace something new in my life. In short, there was no emotional thrust to my recollection. Yet, when I went to the Holy Hour that evening and picked up Mother Teresa’s: Come Be My Light which I have begun to read again. It is my fifth time reading it and every time I read it it gives me new insights that speak deeply to my heart.
In the part of the book I’m reading, it is speaking about Mother’s desire to make a vow to God in which, under the pain of mortal sin, she will refuse God nothing. This means, of course, that she is first seeking out God’s will in all she does and knows that God is always providential, is always looking out for her and caring for her in His loving guidance of her life.
Again, I do not know why – I do not find that anything that had happened that day lead up to this passage speaking to me – but that passage struck to the core of my heart. Perhaps it was not so much the day itself, but the entire year in the seminary. Do I refuse anything to Jesus? When He asks of me, what do I do? Do I accept it or do I run away? If I believe He is asking something of me, do I enter into discernment with it, or do I just depend on my own mind and skills to figure out if it is God asking something of me?
To refuse Jesus nothing is perhaps the most difficult thing for the Christian to do. Too many of us, and frankly, all of us, find a variety of occasions to refuse Him. We want to watch this TV show instead of praying in this instant when He is calling me, or we want to go on Facebook instead of the call to do our homework, or whatever else it is. That is the old man in us, the old man who is trying to persevere in his selfish pursuits. But what struck me in that time of prayer – and it became for me one of the more fruitful Holy Hours I have had in a long time – is that we are refusing the call of love. Christ’s call to us sometimes stings, and it stings to the core. Sometimes, for example, the call to prayer is a call for us to enter into a loving dialogue with Him. He is proposing to share His love with us, but it is in a moment when we would rather be doing something else. The call, in the moment, stings. It is the call of the Cross. But it is on the Cross that He reveals His love for us. To refuse the call thus becomes a refusal in that moment to embrace the Cross. What makes someone like Mother Teresa different than us is that she never refused the Cross because she knew in the depth of her heart it was always the call of divine love.
This became a challenge to me and it should become a challenge to us. There are those moments each day – if we are attune enough to God – in which He is calling us. But it will often be in those moments when the call stings. Why should I respond when it everything is comfortable? But He is calling precisely because we are comfortable. The Cross is the form of Christian life because it is the form of Christ’s life. This means that when things are at their most calm is often when Christ will propose His love to us. And we so often run away! But this is the thing that struck me: whatever it is – and Christ does not always call when we are comfortable – Christ’s call is an act of providential love. He is calling us to Himself in special ways at different moments because He wants to share His love with us. So if we are feeling a nudge to prayer, but our desire is to do it after we watch our TV show, we need to ask ourselves: what is my true attachment? Is it the love of Christ or the love of TV? When we begin to attune ourselves to Christ’s love, we will soon experience His special calls to intimacy with Him not as a Cross, but as a form of resurrected love that has been through the trials of self-denial in the Cross.
So let us find that one moment when He calls and respond. It is a call of love, it is a call of election. It is a call that favours us. So we should not run away. We should embrace it as a call of love that cares. We must simply pray over this fact: He is calling me because He loves ME, personally, intimately, and that He desires and, in a way, needs my response of love! What a gift! What a grace! Let us respond to love.