"Are we prepared to promote conditions in which the living contact with God can be reestablished? For our lives today have become godless to the point of complete vacuity. God is no longer with us in the conscious sense of the word. He is denied, ignored, excluded from every claim to have a part in our daily life." - Alfred Delp, S.J.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Water quenches a flaming fire.
Tears of repentance, loving tears born of love.
Today's first reading on humility from the Book of Sirach read at Mass today, concludes with the verse, "Water quenches a flaming fire, and alms atone for sins." - Sirach 3:29 I can't recall where I read it, but I think the desert fathers may have interpreted "water quenches a flaming fire" as tears of repentance or compunction which in turn extinguish the flames of our passions. And since the solitary is "too poor to help the poor" with material alms, I think charity expressed through prayer becomes his alms - thus atoning for sins by that means. As the last monk in the video on my former post stated, "nothing can purify one more than prayer" - although I think suffering does so just as well, if not better for some of us. "Prayer is good, but suffering is better" as Mother Mary Electa of Christ, OCD once said.
"I had prayer of the heart, but I lost it."
At the end of the video, the holy father told the interviewer he had once attained prayer of the heart but lost it, "due to my unworthiness." The monk would of course tell us that this prayer, like all the contemplative stages of prayer we in the West identify as infused prayer, is sheer grace - it is a gift from God. As we hear in today's Gospel, it would seem all are invited, but not all are given the ultimate or highest stage of prayer - whether one defines it as prayer of the heart or the prayer of union. Like the monk in the video, some have tasted or experienced this prayer, but for some reason or another - often through self exultation and pride or even serious sin - end up losing it. In that case, but for the grace of God we can once again find ourselves back in the lowest place - like the unfortunate fellow in the Gospel.
All is not lost of course, since it is good to be humbled, to be found amongst the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind and those "too little to make their own living", as St. Therese would say; "because everyone who humbles himself will be exalted." - Luke: 14: 7-14
There is great consolation in religion, provided one is content with a sufficiency.