Tuesday, May 20, 2008

On Soul Ties

My priest is exploring the idea of soul ties, particularly those that create bondage. I am vaguely familiar with the charismatic view of this, which seems to simplify such connections down to some sort of spiritual strand that can be snipped, thereby spiritually freeing both individuals. This viewpoint focuses especially on ties between sexual partners which makes sense, given that "the two shall become one body."

I'd guess in most cases our spiritual connection with others is not quite so clear cut. I think about Lewis' description of holy things in Till We Have Faces, which says that they are not thin and clear like water, but thick and dark like blood.

Our God is a God of relationship. In His trinitarian form He exists as a relationship between three. As spiritual beings made in that image, we are eternal creatures which must also exist in relationship.

Some soul connections may indeed be clear and thin like water, needing only a quick spiritual snipping to enable freedom. Other connections are thick and rich, multi-stranded, multi-dimensional. More web than thread, more blood than water.

And eternal.

The role of priest with his parishioners is one of these complex connections. Your priest baptizes you, confirms you, marries you, and absolves you of sin. He opens the gates for God's revelation to flow in through His holy word. If you are lucky, he annoints you as you are dying, and gives you food for the journey. He does all these things while acting in persona Christi; he -is- Christ for you in this time and place.

Most soul-connecting of all, the priest becomes Christ to present His body and blood in consummation of His covenant with you.

If he is also your friend, bonds of shared experience, struggle, intellectual exploration, laughter, tears, and all the rest are added.

I once had a vision of God binding my arms together in front of me by winding a thin gold cord around and around from elbows to wrists. The strands that weave us together with our priests are like that; golden and abundant, shining and decorative, connecting but not enslaving.

Do soul ties exist? I would argue that they do indeed, in many shapes and sizes. We are relational, and relationships are connections. We are both physical and spiritual, both of time and outside of time. Our spiritual connections will endure beyond this sojourn within time. The challenge in most cases is not to sever them, but to ensure that these ties are properly ordered, balanced, and healthy.

PS: As if to confirm my thoughts, the following quote just came through my email:

"Behind every saint stands another saint. -- Friedrich von Hügel"


Pranayama mama said...

so why does my priest have to absolve me of sin? didn't Jesus do that on the cross?

Suzanne Marie DeWitt said...

As with any sacrament, we don't -have- to avail ourselves of it. But Christ instituted the sacrament of confession because He knows how much we need spiritual healing. He knows how prone we are to falling, and that we need all the spiritual weapons we can get.

Here's how I best understand the sacrament. Let's say you have an area of emotional and spiritual struggle such as infidelity. You can talk to a friend about it, and in doing so may feel a bit better. You can talk to a counselor about it, feel a bit better, understand your motives better, and (hopefully) get good advice. If depression is involved, you can see a psychiatrist who will also counsel you and might prescribe medication. Each of these things provides a different level of "treatment" of the condition. Confession takes it a level further, and provides healing for the soul.

The other critical piece in understanding the sacraments is that the priest operates "in persona Christi"; in the person of Christ. It is Christ himself who absolves you, the priest is merely His hands, feet, and mouth.

I wrote an article on confession which provides Biblical and early church context for the sacrament. Check it out here: http://theologyofdesire.blogspot.com/search/label/Confession

I can provide other reference materials as well if it would be useful.

Pax Christi,


Pranayama mama said...

Hey, Pax Christi to you too! (Pretty sure I've never written that before.)