Tuesday, November 3, 2015

something to share

I know I've vanished.  I may end up taking a hiatus from the blog, or going private - drop me a line if you'd like a password in the event that I do.  I did finish that project, and it turned out well - computers are not playing nice with blogger, but I'll post a picture some time.  For now, I've just dropped in to share a passage from In the School of the Holy Spirit, which the book discussion group at my parish is reading:

God's will, and the inspirations of his grace, obviously often go in the opposite direction from our immediate tendencies, in the sense that our tendency is often toward the desire for selfish comfort, ease, laziness, and so on.  St. John of the Cross tells us, in a celebrated passage: 

"Let the soul apply itself ceaselessly not to what is easiest, but to what is most difficult . . . , not to what pleases, but to what displeases."  

He is not wrong to say this, in that context.  But we should not interpret his maxims wrongly, or take as a systematic rule for discerning God's will the principle that in any given situation what he asks of us will always be what is most difficult.  That would make us fall into an exaggerated ascetical voluntarism that had nothing to do with the freedom of the Holy Spirit.  We might even add that the idea that God is always asking us for what we find most difficult is the kind of thought that the devil typically suggests in order to discourage people and turn them away from God.  

God is a Father, and he is certainly a demanding one because he loves us and invites us to give him everything; but he is not an executioner.  He very often leaves us to our free choice.  When he requires something of us, it is to help us grow in love.  The only commandment is to love.  We can suffer for love, but we can also rejoice in love and rest in love.  It is a trap of our imagination or of the devil to picture a life spent following God as something imprisoning, in complete, constant contradiction with all our own desires, even the most legitimate ones.  

Five years ago, I wasn't ready to read this.  I am frustrated that I've spent so much of my life at idle speed, running in circles, even headed straight backward.  But God knows I'm made of pretty poor stuff, and is there to draw me along the path at the halting speed I'm capable of.  Today, this year, I needed to read this.  Maybe you did, too.


  1. This is great. As we are going through some family struggles and being asked very difficult things I needed to read this. If you go private I would still like to read. Thank you for the beautiful insight today!

  2. Yes, I needed to read this as well. Amazing. God is love and al who live in love live in God. I know He loves us even when there is suffering.

  3. Beautiful. Thank you.

  4. I don't really comment (I think maybe I have twice anonymously) -- I can't seem to comment successfully on blogger blogs anymore but trying a diff browser so fingers crossed. If you're comfortable with me following if you go private then I'd very much like to. I have always found your posts to be thoughtful and raw ... it is difficult to find unfiltered blog posts, that really explain a person's thought process without glossing over things or making it seem pretty. I check all the time for a new post from you because your posts always resonate with me (and your research for new house projects makes me smile because I also tend to pour myself into researching all the options for things).

    All the best either way and thank you.

  5. Regardless of what direction you choose. Thank you for all you have written.

  6. This goes along with all my thoughts on joy as a grace lately. Months later, but I still appreciate it.

  7. Just found you blog because I was searching for anything about transplanting lilacs. Then I clicked the header to see the most recent post, and now I am here. A couple years ago, I wasn't ready for that excerpt. A year and a half ago, I would have thought I was. Three months I would have thought I was. Two weeks ago I would have thought I was. I think I am now. I guess I should just get the book and keep coming back to it. Thanks for sharing.