Saturday, February 18, 2012

Holy Desire

Ah... my poor abandoned blog!  I last posted during my travels at World Youth Day ... and with good intentions of blogging the whole trip.  But my plans were soon dashed when wi-fi could not be found!  ...Anyhow, we begin ANEW again and again.  This is the gist of the spiritual life, isn't it?

Yesterday's second reading from the Office of Readings (Friday, 6th wk in Ordinary Time) was a precious jewel from St. Augustine.  In number 4 of his "Tractates on the First Letter of John" Augustine comments upon the Scripture verse: we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2).  Augustine's passage merits being quoted in length... he tells us, "The entire life of a good Christian is in fact an exercise of holy desire."
"Suppose you are going to fill some holder or container, and you know you will be given a large amount.  Then you set about stretching your sack or wineskin or whatever it is.  Why?  Because you know the quantity you will have to put in it and your eyes tell you there is not enough room.  By stretching it, therefore, you increase the capacity of the sack, and this is how God deals with us.  Simply by making us wait he increases our desire, which in turn enlarges the capacity of the soul, making it able to receive what is to be given to us."
I am reminded of something Fr. Conrad DeMeester (a Belgian Discalced Carmelite friar and arguably the world's expert on the writings of St. Thérèse), wrote in his book, With Empty Hands, the magnificent, popular redaction of his doctoral thesis regarding Thérèse's teaching on "confidence."  He says simply: "Hope is love in the state of becoming."  What does this mean except that the merciful God readies us and transforms us within the "arena" of our life's particular circumstances?  If each moment of life would bring us closer to "seeing Him as He is," the Lord must test and "excite" our desire, purifying it of its false idols--those ends which are less than God by Whom and for Whom we've been created.

I recently shared with someone my realization that so much of my own disappointment and discontent in life comes from placing all my chips on things that CAN'T deliver. Hidden in that disappointment is an invitation to refocus my desires, to properly center my HOPE in God alone.  The theological virtue of hope readies our hearts for the love to which we are called.  And God loves us too much to let us wallow in lesser hopes.  In the fact of disappointment the evil one prompts us to despair, to lose ourselves in the misery of dashed hopes.  But the Holy Spirit, on the other hand, prompts us instead to "hope again" and to hope BEYOND our poor expectations ... to place our HOPES in God alone. Whoever loves God knows intimately the ache of "love in the state of becoming."  We are being readied to look upon the Face of the Beloved, our hearts are being hollowed out and hallowed for God's glory.