Oh Lord, purify me, make me a chalice in which you dwell, offer your sacrifice in me and spread your love through me. Let me shine like gold, adorn me with the jewels of virtue that I may always be open to you. Fill me. Overflow me. Let me be like that most perfect vessel, the Singular Vessel of Devotion, She to whom I cry for protection against the Evil One. I ask this for your glory, for the vessel is nothing without the sustenance inside, the cup nothing unless it is filled. Oh Lord, purify me.

Give me a word, Abba

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Second Desolation

The normal way of the spiritual life is like a sine curve; equal amplitudes in both the positive and negative direction on a pretty frequent and regular basis. Now, this isn't always the case, for often the negatives outweigh the positive and sometimes it is the other way around. But whatever the case, there are times of desolation in the spiritual life, where it doesn't seem possible that God cares or that your life doesn't seem quite blessed, but also times of consolation where it seems (and it is) that God has a plan and wishes to create some great good out of our lives.

One wisdom of St. Ignatius is that when you experience this great consolation, immediately thank the Creator for His creation in your life, then offer the next moment of desolation and doubt into his hands to nail to the cross so that you might accept the pain and confusion as a participation in the Ultimate Sacrifice which takes away the sins of the world.

The Gospel for today was about the action of the devil. All pain and evil, desolation and sin makes the devil quite excited for it means that the pain of separation from God which he experiences eternally is shared by members of God's creation. We all long for communion and a common sharing of experiences, and the devil himself does, and thus puts roadblocks in our way. The Gospel, however, speaks of the casting out of demons and the "cleaning up" that occurs. Jesus says that the demon which is cast out then "goes and brings back seven other spirits more wicked than itself who move in and dwell there, and the last condition of that man is worse than the first." (Lk. 11:26)

We might experience a calming of our spirit, a relief from our pain, a ledge on which to rest on this Long Climb to perfect beatitude, but the devil returns in greater force when he realizes that we are advancing on the path to holiness, and the Second Deolation is "worse than the first." If we are not prepare, if we have not asked God to take the Second Desolation and the Third and the Fourth and so on, we will not be ready and we will slip back down past the ledges of grace which we have found to be such consolation.

One of the devil's strategies is to make us despair, and so when we see our consolations slipping by, we start to despair and see them as passing, as fleeting, as unimportant. But of course, they were not. They will always be in your memory and will always remind you that God grants us these moments even though we do not deserve them in our fallen state.

And if the devil wants communion in his pain of separation (which is just the fiery love of God wrongly considered for no one, not even the devil is truly separated from Him), we also desire communion in our pain, but this should never mean that we cause others pain so that they might join with our pain. Rather, we should join in the communion of the Cross, considering our pain as the greatest source of grace and together basking in that grace, that severe mercy, that soothing justice.

And if there is one defense against wrongly considering the love of God as pain, it is the defense of Our Lady's mantle. She experienced the Crucifixion and Death and as none other, but in the same way she also experienced the Resurrection and the fulfillment of the Sacrifice as no other. She understands pain and suffering and the redemptive quality it has, the source of grace that it is, and God has given her command over His grace, to dispense as she wills. If we are to prepare for the Next Desolation, we must allow her to wrap us in her mantle and hold us close to her heart which is united with the Heart of Christ, which constantly offers sacrifice to the Father and understands our suffering, that being the meaning behind the Incarnation.

Our suffering is never the final answer, and it is never done alone. Not only is Christ our mediator through suffering, but we always have the opportunity to suffer with those around us, not in a diabolical way of causing each other pain, but offering our suffering along with theirs into the hands of Christ so that his Sacrifice might be all the more present in our lives.

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