Suzanne DeWitt Hall's blog highlighting the idea of a theology of desire, featuring the writing of great minds along with her own humble efforts at exploring the hunger for God.
(Note: Most of this blog was written under Suzanne's nom de couer "Eva Korban David".)
"It involves us in all kinds of difficulties in which human ingenuity, unable to discover or imagine a way out, realizes its own feebleness and finds itself at a loss and confounded. It is then that God's purpose is manifest in all its radiance, rescuing souls more miraculously than any writer of fantastic tales, who, straining every effort of his imagination in the seclusion of his study, unravels the intrigues and perils of his imaginary heroes and always brings their adventures to a happy conclusion. It leads souls far more ingeniously past mortal perils, past monster, hell-fire, demons and their snares and carries them up to heaven. All are the subject of mystical tales far more beautiful and amazing than any invented by the crude imagination of mortal man."
page 24 of "The Sacrament of the Present Moment" by Jean Pierre de Caussade
A formerly Baptist friend asked me about the Catholic practice of praying for the dead. I passed along some info on this ancient Jewish and Christian practice, but concluded with the following, describing the concept of being saved as by fire as St. Paul educates us.
I have a vision of this state of purification as being in his presence but at a distance because the heat and light are too great. And as my attachment to sin is burned away I am able to move closer and closer and closer until I can stand before him, face to face. That process of purgation, of being saved as by fire, is a stage of heaven, one of the rooms in his mansion. The heat of his light and love are the fire which purifies. And the pain of the purification process is the pain of the distance which remains, until that distance is no more.
I just adore the concept of purgatory; it is so very beautiful.
While driving into the city today I went past a large billboard right next to the inner loop. As usual, it displayed an ad for our area's most prosperous porn shop. As porn shop ads go, these are usually pretty tame. This time it said something about going red for valentines day, with a picture of a provocative red head.
And I thought to myself "ewww."
Then I wondered, why "ewww"?
And I realized that we -should- react to pornography the way we react to a plate full of rotten meat, crawling with maggots. Pornography takes something which is whole and beautiful and full of God's grace, and twists it and destroys it and turns it into something prurient.
A friend forwarded this to me today, from some sort of devotional email list. It connects to a discussion in my women's group this morning.
When your words came, I ate them; They were my joy and my heart's delight, For I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty. Jeremiah 15:16
"Mortimer J. Adler in his classic How to Read A Book makes this insightful observation. "The one time people read for all they are worth is when they are in love and are reading a letter from their beloved." Adler goes on to say that folks read love letters by analyzing every word. They even read between the lines and the margins. The whole is read in terms of the parts, and each part in terms of the whole. The reader becomes sensitive to context and ambiguity, to insinuation and implication. When reading a love letter there is an acute awareness of the color of the words, the order of phrases, and the weight of sentences. Punctuation is taken into account and the imagination is aroused. If never before, or after, each precious word of the letter is read carefully and in depth.
Drawing on Adler's comments, the New York Times published a review for How to Read A Book under the heading, "How to Read a Love Letter." The reviewer noted that when we read a letter from our beloved, it is read so thoroughly and with so many questions, that soon the reader can quote the content by heart. And, in fact, does so—to him- or herself—for weeks to come. The review ended with the conclusion that if people read books with anything approaching the same concentration and zeal, we'd be a race of mental giants!
Using Adler's words and the New York Times review, ponder for a moment what would happen if we read the Bible—God's perpetual love letter to His beloved—with the same zeal! We would indeed be a race of "spiritual giants," mature in our faith and able to withstand the wiles of the enemy. With God's Word hidden in our hearts and echoing in our mind, there would be no room left for Satan to inject doubts and fears! Answers to life's questions and perplexities would come easily. Our prayers would be powerful and effective. All of nature would become our classroom. We would walk in harmony with God and enjoy the intimate fellowship with Him for which we were created.
Now ask yourself another question: when was the last time you read the Bible as if it were a precious love letter? When reading Scripture do you hang on every word and read between the lines and margins? Have you seen the whole in terms of the parts and the parts in terms of the whole? Do the words take on colors and arouse your imagination? Or is Scripture reading just another obligation you must fulfill before you go about the busyness of your life, unaffected by the precious words you gulped down rather than savored and allowed to permeate every fiber of your being? Jeremiah tells us that God's words are to be our joy and our heart's delight.
Today I invite you to read God's word with the heart of a lover. Learn to delight in your beloved because He delights in you and invites you to enjoy Him forever."
In a moment of magic I was with you. You were in me, and I surrounded you. Music played and we danced as if time were a fiction. Now I am empty, and waiting carried from place to place in hope that the right door will be opened and you will be there to step into me; sole-deep companion of my heart.
The fountains mingle with the river, And the rivers with the ocean; The winds of heaven mix forever, With a sweet emotion; Nothing in the world is single; All things by a law divine In one another's being mingle;-- Why not I with thine?
See! the mountains kiss high heaven, And the waves clasp one another; No sister flower would be forgiven, If it disdained it's brother; And the sunlight clasps the earth, And the moonbeams kiss the sea;-- What are all these kissings worth, If thou kiss not me?
He is stark mad, whoever says, That he hath been in love an hour, Yet not that love so soon decays, But that it can ten in less space devour; Who will believe me, if I swear That I have had the plague a year? Who would not laugh at me, if I should say I saw a flash of powder burn a day?
Ah, what a trifle is a heart, If once into love's hands it come! All other griefs allow a part To other griefs, and ask themselves but some; They come to us, but us love draws; He swallows us and never chaws; By him, as by chain'd shot, whole ranks do die; He is the tyrant pike, our hearts the fry.
If 'twere not so, what did become Of my heart when I first saw thee? I brought a heart into the room, But from the room I carried none with me. If it had gone to thee, I know Mine would have taught thine heart to show More pity unto me; but Love, alas! At one first blow did shiver it as glass.
Yet nothing can to nothing fall, Nor any place be empty quite; Therefore I think my breast hath all Those pieces still, though they be not unite; And now, as broken glasses show A hundred lesser faces, so My rags of heart can like, wish, and adore, But after one such love, can love no more.
"I believe--and it has been my experience--that ongoing participation in the liturgy is ongoing participation in the life of God, and, as such, will lead, as C.S. Lewis envisions human transformation, to a life 'dazzling, radiant... pulsating all through with... energy, joy, and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine.'"
Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend; That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new. I, like an usurped town to another due, Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end; Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend, But is captived, and proves weak or untrue. Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain, But am betrothed unto your enemy; Divorce me, untie or break that knot again, Take me to you, imprison me, for I, Except you enthrall me, never shall be free, Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
"The beauty of the female is the root of joy to the female as well as to the male, and it is no accident that the goddess of love is older and stronger then the god. To desire the desiring of her own beauty is the vanity of Lilith, but to desire the enjoying of her beauty is the obedience of Eve, and to both it is in the lover that the beloved tastes her own delightfulness. As obedience is the stairway of pleasure, so humility is the..."
--C. S. Lewis
Ed: Interesting how this quote within a quote was interrupted...
There is so much contradiction in my soul.--Such deep longing for God--so deep that it is painful--a suffering continual--and yet not wanted by God--repulsed--empty--no faith--no love--no zeal.--Souls hold no attraction--Heaven means nothing--to me it looks like an empty place--the thought of it means nothing to me and yet this torturing longing for God.--Pray for me please that I keep smiling at Him in spite of everything. For I am only His--so he has every right over me. I am perfectly happy to be nobody even to God....
(Blessed Mother Teresa, Come Be My Light, pp 169-170)
I am not alone.--I have His darkness--I have His pain--I have the terrible longing for God--to love and not to be loved. I know I have Jesus--in that unbroken union--for my mind is fixed on Him and in Him alone, in my will.
When at last I cling to you with my whole being there will be no more anguish or labour for me, and my life will be alive indeed, alive because filled with you. But now it is very different. Anyone whom you fill you also uplift; but I am not full of you, and so I am a burden to myself. Joys over which I ought to weep do battle with sorrows that should be matter for joy, and I do not know which will be victorious. But I also see griefs that are evil at war in me with joys that are good, and I do not know which will win the day.