When we find ourselves with few consolations, it may reveal that we've otherwise
been preoccupied with their counterfeit, comforts, dallying with inauthentic
loves and false religion rather than fully participating in the life of the Creator,
cooperating with the Spirit. This happens to all of us, although in varying
degrees. Not to worry, the fires of love will burn away such impurities through
suffering to the extent we don't otherwise travel love's road through an authentic
mysticism. Of course, we'll all experience some of both, although - again - in
Infatuations, maybe more so for women but most often true for men, too, are not
ordinarily overtly sexual realities, even though they clearly harness erotic
energies. They are measured in terms of priorities or, put simply, in terms of both
whose presence and which engagements one most finds their delight, revealed
by the amount of time dedicated, the amount of emotional energy set aside. And,
make no mistake, to dedicate or set aside means to consider sacred or holy.
Properly oriented, infatuations may rightfully enjoy a fleeting moment as an early
stage of an authentic love, whether conjugal or mystical. Improperly nurtured,
though, as mere dalliances, they constitute betrayals, whether an insidious form
of marital infidelity or a dangerous form of religious idolatry. They can leave
one stuck in first fervor and first naivete, missing out on second naivete (moving
beyond the literal or face value of our myths and concepts to deeper symbolic
reintepretations) and additional and transforming loves.
To devote oneself to every novel delight, whether persons, religiosities or even
self-important works, to not set aside time for or dedicate oneself to that which,
or especially whom, we consider ordinary, broken, incomplete or differently-
abled (whether through familiarity, disfigurement, underdevelopment or
senescence), reveals a missing of the mark of fidelity and holiness (wholiness),
an embrace of a false love, a practice of a false religion, because it constitutes a
failure to share God's delight in His unfinished business, which involves
everything and everyone in creation. It is not enough to draw a distinction
between those who cry out "Lord, Lord" and those who ostensibly practice
corporal and spiritual works of mercy; there is a further distinction, which
requires our discernment of whether or not we are at work on our own agenda or,
truly, at play in the fields of the Lord, a discernment measured via fruits of the
Spirit and lasting consolations rather than always frantic, anxiety-driven pursuits
of the comforts of false esteem and near desperate approval-seeking. The way I
receive Psalm 37: Rejoice in the Lord and the Spirit will give you your heart's
desires, in other words, what and whom you are to desire and not necessarily
what or whom you so happen to desire, the latter providing us comforts that will
inevitably be taken away, the former bringing us lasting consolations as we move
beyond the erotic, though not without it, to the agapic.
The following is Fr Richard Rohr's recent adaptation from his "The Shape of God:
Deepening the Mystery of the Trinity."
Our Franciscan Saint Bonaventure, who wrote a lot about the Trinity, was influenced
by a lesser-known figure called Richard of Saint Victor. Richard said, “For God to
be good, God can be one. For God to be loving, God has to be two because love is
always a relationship.” But his real breakthrough was saying that “For God to be
supreme joy and happiness, God has to be three.” Lovers do not know full
happiness until they both delight in the same thing, like new parents with the
ecstasy of their first child.
When I was first becoming “known,” people wanted to get close to me and be my
friend or have a special relationship with me. I asked myself how I would choose
between all these friends and I realized that the people I really found joy in were not
always people who loved me nearly as much as people who loved what I loved.
That helped me understand what I think Richard of St. Victor was trying to teach.
The Holy Spirit is the shared love of the Father and the Son, and shared love is
always happiness and joy. The Holy Spirit is whatever the Father and the Son are
excited about; She is that excitement—about everything in creation! end of quote
Father Rohr also wrote: You are part of something bigger than your thinking can
even hint at. Perhaps it’s easier for us to see this in our children with mental
handicaps or Down’s syndrome. We can see the divine image in them so easily,
almost because they’re not their minds.
As we ascend the Great Chain of Being, developmentally, emergent realities
increasing in complexity, we will more highly value what is more complex. We
could say that there is an increase in a thing’s value (axiological density) that
accompanies an increase in a thing’s complexity (ontological density). As we
cross the threshold from nonliving to living realities, we thus more highly value
incipient life over inorganic substances, sentient life over mere incipient life, and
sapient life (human persons) over sentient life. Perhaps this is why we often
mistakenly imagine that, or at least act as if, human development – intellectual,
emotional, moral, social and religious – similarly conveys increased value?
Once crossing the threshold to sapient life, the emergent reality known as a
human person, as an Imago Dei, is valued absolutely and the full spectrum of
human experience is thus intrinsically true, beautiful and good. And this is true
both across the categories of the pre-rational, non-rational, rational and trans-
rational and through time, developmentally. Our different levels and stages of
development get assimilated – but not subjugated – and carried forward. Neither
privation nor deficiency is implied for the early stages of human developmental
models, for that would entail the denial of their genuinely human character and
their absolute intrinsic worth.
Humanity is enriched by the plurality of these alternative forms of engagement;
sadly, though, this gift of diversity is too often harnessed in the service of
ideologies of domination. This doesn’t mean we do not recognize the normative
distinction between higher and lesser goods, the latter subject to the laws of
moderation. But a radically incarnational view, it seems, would not conflate this
normative distinction with an evaluative distinction, which, put more simply,
means we wouldn’t split body, soul and spirit, pitting one against the other,
devaluing one while esteeming the other, for they are integrally-related, each
necessary, none – alone – sufficient.
This needn’t be approached only abstractly. One need only gaze into the eyes of
a newborn to realize such truth, beauty and goodness.
I once employed Fr Keating’s paradigm in a related reflection:
It is precisely because human persons are so very complex that diagnostic
statistical manuals set forth manifold and multiform criteria to characterize
addiction, which as a bio-psycho-social reality has many INFLUENCES, which are
not the same as DETERMINANTS. The physiological criteria (such as tolerance &
withdrawal) need not be present for addiction to be diagnosed; when genetic
influences are present, they – alone – are not sufficient to cause addiction. Like so
many realities, addictions present in matters of degree and spiritual paradigms
are widely and successfully applied in conjunction with, not over against, disease
models, which remain controversial, especially among practicing medical
professionals (a majority, at that).
I resonate with and was deeply heartened by this post vis a vis Downs Syndrome,
etc. Thank you SO much!
IN RESPONSE TO:
The Ego’s Four Splits, Part III
Posted on June 4, 2012 by ceceshantzek
The Ego’s Four Splits, Part III
(This teaching anticipates a Conference on Franciscan Mysticism Fr. Richard will
offer in October 2012 in Santa Fe, NM.)
The Third Split: Body from Mind
The Third Split is that we separate our body from our mind. The mind is given
pre-eminence in almost all people. It might take different cultural forms, but this
little machine called the mind starts steering and judging, analyzing and fixing,
controlling and dominating. Most people think they are their thinking. That’s
what contemplation aims to resolve; to let you find the deeper self that exists
previous to your thinking about it. The self prior to the judgments you make, the
preferences you have. It doesn’t matter what you think; your thinking doesn’t
make it so. You are part of something bigger than your thinking can even hint at.
Perhaps it’s easier for us to see this in our children with mental handicaps or
Down’s syndrome. We can see the divine image in them so easily, almost
because they’re not their minds.
I’m sure that so many of the problems we have—addiction, obesity, anorexia—
they’re all this rejection of the body; a result of feeling the body is not good, not
holy. I’m sure sexual addiction also is just a body trying to compensate; feeling
so unloved, so disconnected, it tries to connect in False Self ways that don’t really
There’s no point in hating this—which Jesus never does. Jesus shows tremendous
compassion for what we later called “the sins of the flesh.” Jesus is only hard on
what we call “the sins of the spirit”: arrogance, pride, hypocrisy; these are the
sins that really destroy the soul. Jesus is not localizing sin in the material universe
(sins of the flesh or sins of weakness). Sins of the spirit and the mind—these are
the sins that really separate you from God. So the alternative orthodoxy that’s
emerging is orthopraxy instead of verbal orthodoxy: adopting an orthodox,
gospel-based way of life instead of just saying the right words and thinking the