Saturday, October 08, 2011

If you now yearn to know how that happens (mystical communion with God), ask grace, not doctrine...

“Tax collectors and sinners are entering the Kingdom of God before you.”
Today's Gospel is very important for ordinary Christians living ordinary lives in the world.  I liken it to "let the dead bury their dead" and Christ's words to Peter when he was so concerned about what would happen to John and our Lord literally commanded him, "what is it to you?  You - follow me."  In today's reading a pious woman from the crowd raises her voice to praise Our Lady for having given birth to Christ, and for having nursed him.  She was perhaps in awe of the mystic relationship, the intimacy between the Son and his Mother.  Yet in his reply Christ exalted the ordinary followers who "hear the word of God and keep it."  Not so much teach it, or define it, or explain it, or wear it on their sleeves - but those who "keep it" - in other words, live it... and oftentimes, not without difficulty.
Lord, I am in this world to show Your mercy to others. Other people will glorify You by making visible the power of Your grace by their fidelity and constancy to You. For my part I will glorify You by making known how good You are to sinners, that Your mercy is boundless and that no sinner no matter how great his offences should have reason to despair of pardon. If I have grievously offended You, My Redeemer, let me not offend You even more by thinking that You are not kind enough to pardon Me. Amen. - St. Claude de la Colombiere
'If you now yearn to know how that happens,ask grace, not doctrine; desire, not the intellect; the groaning of prayer, not the study of the letter...'
"During his General Audience on March 10, 2010, dedicated to Bonaventure, Benedict made the following comments about the stigmata of St. Francis and St. Bonaventure:

"Of his writings, I would like to mention only one, his masterwork, the Itinerarium mentis in Deum, a 'manual' of mystical contemplation," Benedict said.

"This book was conceived in a place of profound spirituality: the hill of La Verna, where St. Francis had received the stigmata. In the introduction, Bonaventure illustrates the circumstances that gave origin to his writing:

"'While I meditated on the possibility of the soul ascending to God, presented to me, among others, was that wondrous event that occurred in that place to Blessed Francis, namely, the vision of the winged seraphim in the form of a crucifix. And meditating on this, immediately I realized that such a vision offered me the contemplative ecstasy of Father Francis himself and at the same time the way that leads to it' (Journey of the Mind in God, Prologue, 2, in Opere di San Bonaventura. Opuscoli Teologici / 1, Rome, 1993, p. 499).

Benedict continued:
"The six wings of the seraphim thus became the symbol of six stages that lead man progressively to the knowledge of God through observation of the world and of creatures and through the exploration of the soul itself with its faculties, up to the satisfying union with the Trinity through Christ, in imitation of St. Francis of Assisi.

"The last words of St. Bonaventure's Itinerarium, which respond to the question of how one can reach this mystical communion with God, would make one descend to the depth of the heart:

"'If you now yearn to know how that happens (mystical communion with God), ask grace, not doctrine; desire, not the intellect; the groaning of prayer, not the study of the letter; the spouse, not the teacher; God, not man; darkness not clarity; not light but the fire that inflames everything and transport to God with strong unctions and ardent affections. ... We enter therefore into darkness, we silence worries, the passions and illusions; we pass with Christ Crucified from this world to the Father, so that, after having seen him, we say with Philip: that is enough for me' (Ibid., VII, 6).

"Dear friends," Benedict concluded, "let us take up the invitation addressed to us by St. Bonaventure, the Seraphic Doctor, and let us enter the school of the divine Teacher: We listen to his Word of life and truth, which resounds in the depth of our soul. Let us purify our thoughts and actions, so that he can dwell in us, and we can hear his divine voice, which draws us toward true happiness."
If we would seek God, then, and if we are to imitate Christ, and Francis, and pass through the apocalyptic events unfolding around us -- always unfolding, until the end of the world -- we must "ask grace, not doctrine, desire, not the intellect; the groaning of prayer, not the study of the letter."
This is the path of poverty which is indicated to us on this great feast day." - Dr. Robert

h/t Paula


  1. Good stuff.

    I was at Adoration this morning and it occurred to me I might have ADD cuz I just can't seem to get my mind to quiet down. I willed a quiet in my head (asking for our Lord's help) and distractions just did not seem to matter. Before I knew it, I was alone in the chapel and the top-of-the-hour replacement did not show and I enjoyed an extra hour w/our Lord. Two hours passed that seemed nothing. I was not in any mystical contemplation, but just enjoyed the company of my Lord and Friend. And here's my point as it relates to your post: I'm always asking for clarity (which I did again today) but darkness was alright, too, if that's what the Lord wants. A line of Jimmy Stewart's from the movie "Philadelphia Story" comes to mind as he's complimenting Hepburn's character, Tracy Lord, and says (paraphrasing), "'re lit from within with hearth fires and holocausts." Consolation with love, not knowledge.

    I'm babbling ... blah blah blah...

  2. Hi - that's the way love goes...


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