Monday, March 1, 2010

We are invited to walk in faith and to surrender

"[I]f we look deeper, we can realise how good Lent could be for us. The areas that need attention in our lives, the results of our annual check-up, are maters that damage us and hurt others. All sin is slavery; all weakness takes from our lives. It is only by changing our attitudes and lives to God’s way that we find a new peace, a fresh beauty in ourselves and others. The most accurate doctor of spiritual disease is probably St. John of the Cross, a Spanish Carmelite mystic who died in 1592.

He examined the human condition and realised that we have two sources of weakness and sin in our lives, failings that drag us down, so that we are less able to love God, to love others and to love ourselves. These boil down to the areas of feelings and the dispositions of our minds. Feelings are facts. They may be positive or negative. The main ones are fear, joy, anger and hope. When these are rightly aligned, then our lives can easily be in order. But whereas we need to pay attention to our feelings, they are not always reliable guides. Indeed emotional maturity is marked by the ability to act irrespective of feelings. Pupils need to study whether
they feel like it or not. We go to work irrespective of how we feel. John of the Cross teaches very clearly that our feelings must not determine how we live.

The other problems arise from the way we think, the way we desire, the way we remember. Each of us values being in control. But our thinking can so often be askew. We don’t get the whole picture; we make poor judgements; we are blind and prejudiced. The cure for our intellects is faith. God’s word leads us into areas of truth that are beyond our human capacity.

We are invited to walk in faith and to surrender our intellectual pride. Again, our willing and our desires are often selfish. The big me controls so much of what we think, say or do. St. John of the Cross offers us to the therapy of love. We need to set aside selfishness in order to love God and to love others."

-- The meaning of Lent with some Carmelite insights by Christopher O'Donnell, OCarm

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