Sunday, December 18, 2011

Three Words of Wisdom


Our Lady's "self-knowledge:"
"I am the handmaid of the Lord."
Recently, while in the waiting room of a doctor's office I picked up a flyer and was immediately captivated by the first line:  "In today's busy world, self-understanding is often neglected." I went on to read the short paragraph that highlighted the benefits of a total body massage from "the tips of your toes, to the tips of your eyelashes." Well, as a Secular Carmelite, of course I could see the spiritual symbolism in this statement.  It certainly reflects a twisted spirituality in light of our Christian faith.

"The path of self-knowledge
must never be abandoned."
The Life Chap. 13, No.15
 Self-understanding? Where have we heard this before in our Carmelite studies?  St. Teresa of Jesus (Avila), of course!  She teaches us the great benefits of self-knowledge. A knowledge about ourselves that is realized through quiet prayer and submission to the work and grace of the Holy Spirit.  This holy enlightenment, however, is not as relaxing and physically enjoyable as the total body massage. It is much, much different. It can be very painful, in fact, even for those who are given to prayer and contemplation.   Sometimes, it takes great courage to pray, for we  know that we will stand before the Lord...he may bring to our mind and our attention where we have failed: our ugly faults in all their glory!

The person who submits to a total body massage in the secular world makes a decision to have a stranger manipulate his muscles and joints.  They place themselves in a vulnerable position with this stranger.  Let us take this example as food for meditation. Let us ask the Holy Spirit for courage to come before him in prayer ready to have him reveal to us who we really are before him.  This may not be a pleasant sight or revelation in our eyes, but it is necessary for spiritual growth. 

While the world tells us not to neglect our "selves," to pamper the body and to embrace all the pleasures the world has to offer, let us remain faithful to our call to holiness through true self-knowledge  wrought in us by the Holy Spirit.

Our holy parents, St. John and St. Teresa, clearly teach us to be detached from the senses and worldly pleasures, let us also be detached from spiritual consolations, where we would like to remain in consolation and be pampered by the Holy Spirit. St. Teresa and St. John tell us that consolations are given for service to God and neighbor. God will console us when we need it, let us not put service aside to seek these spiritual favors.

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

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