Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Christ is in our Midst XXIX(letter 39)

" 39

30 March 1949

You write that spiritually you are not getting on well, 'something is lacking, probably faith and love for the Lord'. The enemy of mankind is confusing you, child. Do not listen to him. You have faith and love for God and your fear is wrong, because it is from conceit. Live as you are living, and do not ponder too much. After all, you obviously do watch yourself and want to improve, and this desire is half of salvation. What more do you need?

You have been reading the books of the Holy Fathers and cannot understand them, and now you are confused. There is such a thing as reason; you should use it and adapt yourself to the conditions of life. There are three grades in the spiritual life: beginners, intermediates and the perfect. Realize that you are a beginner, yet you are trying to slip into the intermediates and the perfect. Be content, try to keep God in mind and the Lord will help you. "


Father John here advises his spiritual child to not rush into advancing in the spiritual life. He tells her to be content, in essence, "Easy does it".
Advancement in the spiritual life is attained in the mundane "grunt" work of day to day living. In the monotony of all the "things", if I may use that word, that make up my life, I may be saved. I take whatever God has placed into my hands and offer it and myself through its execution to Him. My life becomes a prayer this way and I "pray unceasingly"(1 Thessalonians 5:17). I inhabit my prayer in my action and like incense it is offered to the Lord.
I am told, therefore, "To occupy till He comes". Hold steadfast that which has been entrusted to my safekeeping as a faithful steward knowing that for all I will give account.
In all this there is the "shell" which I may describe as circumscribing my life; my home, my work, my family, my creditors, my hobbies, activities,etc. etc., all the outward stuff. Now, all these things must be "filled in" by God, subjugating them all to His dominion, offering them and myself through them to Him.
The subjugation of them is not merely an outward act, but is immensely inward and personal.
My work, for instance, is not simply the place I show up to, do my eight hours and leave and collect my paycheck on Friday night.
Here is where I also subjugate my bad temper in relation to my customers and my employees and my brothers(who are my equal partners).
Here is where I fight off a natural timidity and apathy that when the food delivery comes in I check it thoroughly. I learn to tell the driver that if some kind of problem occurred that must be dealt with, I am learning to firmly and unwaveringly say what needs to be said.
In other words, in the "filling in" of the shell of my life, there is of course that inward inner life that is interacting with the "shell" and this shaping of my inner life to adapt to these outward conditions is where I become "saved" or healed.
When I don't make enough money have I learned to thank God for this?
When I make more than enough have I learned to thank God for this?
This is a big subject and I offer these small examples from my own life as a beginning for a further and deeper subjugation of the totality of me to Him for after all, the result of this holding fast is not for me to determine but for Him for, "My life is hidden with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3).


Anonymous said...

I'm really enjoying this series especially. Thanks!

Sophocles said...


Always nice to have you stop by. I appreciate your kind words.

Anonymous said...

Sophocles, likewise, I'm sure!