Trust in Him

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Spiritual Gluttony

The title of this post is ironic, no? Gluttony is when we sin by using the good things God has given us in excess, and it is not impossible to engage too heartily in the desires of the spirit. In fact, this very fault is one in which many of the saints must have struggled to be liberated from. It is true that our bodies lead us often to sin, but truly it is the deep desires of our spirits which lead us to a state of inner confusion that leads to Hell.

There is one desire, spiritual or temporal, that we may engage in without restraint... and this is loving Christ. Why? Because if we love Him, truly love Him, then we will always do what is right. There could not possibly be any constraint on the inclinations for good! This love constantly evaluates itself to make sure that it is giving to God the fullest gift possible, and is thus constantly checking any imperfect choices. In addition to this... love is the one great wish of God. He does not need us, He does not have need to want anything, and yet He longs for us. He puts a trust in us so that we can either make Him writhe in anguish at our lack of love or burn with great joy at our love. He suffered death and suffers the painful ungratefulness of sacrilege constantly... because He makes Himself vulnerable to our love, this is how much He loves us and desires us to return this love. If this is the one thing that Jesus wants... a perfect bond of love between us... then this can by no means be limited.

But, how can we become spiritual gluttons? Let me remind you of a piece of the story of Our Lady of Good Success. It was said of the nun in this story: Her heart was pierced as with a thousand swords, suddenly, while she knelt in prayer. Then the sisters, while preparing for her burial, begged that God would give her back to them. Mary looked at her in heaven and asked her to go back, and the nun gazed on the face of Christ... she agreed to leave the heavenly bliss to return and help those who needed her on earth. I'm writing this from memory, so that may not be exactly what happened... but the example is sufficient for me to make my point. She left heaven to return to earth! A world of pain and tribulation... and she returned to it when she could have remained embraced in the loving heart of her Beloved.

We are human, with souls and bodies, and we are given free will and life on earth so that we may know, love, and serve God. It is our privilege to be able to work and suffer for Him. I have often wished for martyrdom... but then I realized that it is the living martyrdom of loving Christ, and remaining separated from Him, by which my wish comes true. How wonderful it is that we can show our love and loyalty through painful perseverance! I would give anything EXCEPT my love for Christ to spend forever gazing upon Him in Adoration in the Chapel... but because I love Him, I must deny myself this great desire in order to live for Him in my work, and to show Him by my actions that I love Him.

I was reading a story about St. Collette in Mother Mary Francis' book "Walled In Light" and I realized that it closely coincides with this concept. It said something to the effect of: "St. Collette played with her friends and brought them delight in doing so, although she herself did not enjoy these games. This shows that St. Collette had overcome the desire to spend all her time in prayer, and realized that she must serve God in other ways as well, thus overcoming at a young age a thing which many aged religious struggle with daily." If we are not our own, and we are God's instead, then it makes sense that we would give to Him a harder and more perfect prayer.. a living prayer by which we show through our actions and not through our words that we live to serve and to love Him.

This does not mean that we should not pray... it means, rather, that we must pray always! We must let our focus be constantly on God, and ask Him at every unsure moment "My Jesus, I am yours, how can I serve you best right now?" St. Collette was also asked to leave her anchorage, an oasis of prayer and holiness, after nearly four years to go out and reform the Franciscan Order. God made it apparent to her that her life of intimacy with Him on earth was to be coupled with active service to others. All too often we wish to have our heaven on earth, some in temporal ways and others in spiritual ways, but Christ, who IS the focus of all heavenly joy, left this joy to come to earth and serve others, finally dying on the Cross utterly abandoned and crucified by those He loved. In doing this He set an example He wishes us to follow.

Spiritual gluttony is when we seek in excess those spiritual joys, but mislead ourselves in the meantime. We come to seek a feeling, a constancy of joy, a perpetual consideration of forgiveness that causes us to forget the deeper spirituality that comes from suffering, repentance, humility, and strong efforts to give to God all that we have neglected to give Him in the past. Ask Him daily what He wants of you... keep Him in mind all the day long, and live prayer. Show Him that you love Him through service to the poor, through the work of your hands, through your willingness to jump at His call.

Do not just love Him, and feel Him... give to Him everything you can. Do not just recognize His forgiveness and thank Him for it... show that you are grateful by actively seeking the positive opposites of the sins you have committed; by actively pursuing a life of virtue to counter-effect your sinfulness. Do not just tell Him that you desire Him in heaven... but follow in the paths of the saints by serving Him and constantly admit your own unworthiness of all His gifts. Do not just read His Word and bless Him for His goodness, allow it to grow in you and radiate in your example and love for others. Be a contemplative of the heart... pray always, offer all you do to Him, and allow your prayer to express itself in good works. Do not simply tell Jesus you will spend hours upon hours in prayer and fasting, and willingly suffer martyrdom... show Him rather that you are willing to deny yourself in all things and focus on Him alone, then ask Him to guide you in your work. In this way, you will find great peace and love!

4 comments:

  1. You are wise beyond your years Sophie!

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  2. And I am so sorry SADIE!!!! I was just listening to a story about Sophie's heart, and as soon as I entered that comment, I knew my mistake-mea culpa!

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  3. Thank you :). Haha... that's ok, Sophie is a nice name!

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  4. Thanks Sadie! Hope you don't mind me using your article as a source for a friend of mine who suffers precisely from this gluttony of the spirituality.

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