Wednesday, February 3, 2010
I am not sure I have often mentioned "strings" in my posts here... but I assure you I will begin to as I get into some of the deeper concepts of a religious vocation. When I say strings, I mean anything that hinders me from jumping up and following Christ immediately if He happened to call. I've lived my life with many strings, but I've always taken great care to make sure that they are thin enough to be cut when necessary.
One of the first sets of strings one encounters is objects. Our possessions hold us to the ground like a balloon with roots. We must never be so jealous over an object so as to be unwilling to give it away. Anyone pursuing a religious vocation would do well to take an inventory of the objects he owns, and likes, and then give all those he is free to give to people he communicates with, whether they are close friends or not. He should give them even if, especially if he loses something in doing so... for he will notice in a short time that he is freed of a particularly thick string.
One of the strings most often encountered is personal pride. We build up compliments, reputations, acquaintances, and other things that feed our self-confidence. Each of these strings is attached to another boulder causing us to walk slower and slower towards the flower of humility. They, in themselves, may not be bad... but we must be willing to leave society where we are respected, dispose of compliments from our minds, and follow Christ if He so wishes.
Closely related to these are the strings of talents. It is good to grow and engage in the talents Our Lord gives us, for He expects us to do so. However, sometimes we become too wrapped up in our talents and refuse to drop them. One must be willing to give up everything he has learned and likes to do for God, so that it can be purified and possibly given back to him later. Especially someone who is entering a monastery... if you are a writer, can you give up your writing? If you play music, could you be satisfied to have someone else play the music while you listen? If you sing, would you be jealous if another soloist was preferred over you? If you are talented at tending to animals, would you spend the rest of your life without animals if God asked? These might seem like ridiculous questions... but until one says yes to these and like questions, they remain strings closing his heart from God's will for him.
At times, we wrongly mistake strings for responsibility. Joan of Arc is a perfect example of this. She felt her little life, her respectability and the regard of her family for her, her proper "place", and other things were responsibilities too great to drop, responsibilities more suited to her. But God called her to leave all of this... to do something greater. These things which must have been important to her at the time, no longer mattered at all. We must be able to identify what are God-given responsibilities and what are strings we can cut if necessary, then we must be ready to cut them.
We tend to see friendship as something that must remain a string. This is not so. Although some friendships keep us from following God's call, the good friendships should help us in following Him. Our motive for friendship should be one of lasting love in Christ, and not a love that only lasts as long as we "get along". If a friendship begins to weigh you down, it has become a string... it has come between you and God. NO friendships should be allowed to do this, because we are so very susceptible to it. In many cases it is necessary to take friendships to prayer when they reach this point. However, our love of our friends must be so unconditional as to remain alive in our heart forever.
Yet another string is the love of security. If we truly trust God we will do what He asks without insisting on knowing the outcome. This is one of the most persevering strings because several strings of "security" are held by the devil in white fleece. We begin to look at a house and necessities as something not only desirable, but a must for our life. This prevents us from willingly becoming missionaries or joining cloisters which stress poverty and obedience. It also prevents us from following our true vocations... because we want have the secure feeling of knowing and understanding what we are to do... for sure. We are afraid to answer God's call because we constantly say "is He really calling...? Will He really take care of me...?" We must cut this string by believing fully, and flying freely in God's wind through great faith, so that one day God will reward our trust with understanding.
The different kinds of strings are endless... as I say, anything that withholds us from flying to God at His Call is a string. He does not call us to dispose of things which it would hurt us or others to dispose of... but He does call us to be free of all attachment. We must allow strings to remain tied for His Sake alone.