PARADOXICAL

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

 

Lenten retreat reflection: Day 12 - Celibacy, poverty, obedience

pp. 44-45: http://books.google.com.ph/books?id=EOg19fGyNyoC&pg=PA44&lpg=PP1&hl=tl&output=html_text

(These pages turn out to be just a continuation of the same section. My reflection will therefore be based on the specific subtopic tackled.)

Celibacy, poverty, obedience -- three three words weigh heavily on me, not because they are too ideal and only for contemplatives, but because I recognize that I too am called to this triumvirate, and I know, in all honesty, that these things are achievable, though it's always a mix of grace + nature, God's grace building up on my better nature.

I know I am not as consistent with chastity as I wish, especially since my mind is quite imaginative. In my best moments, though, I know how it is to have a chaste heart, to the point that "nothing can be considered impure." I know chastity is possible, because I've seen it happen.

Prayer:

Lord, continue to wash my heart clean. Excise anything that should not be there. Always remind me of your Biblical injunction on chastity (1 Timothy 5:1-2) that I may treat all older women are like my mother, all older men as my father, all fellow men my brothers and all women my sisters in Christ. This, I believe, is an effective shortcut for me or anyone else in keeping the heart pure. May I keep at it.


As for poverty, well, I came from a relatively poor family, and I know that growing up feeling deprived can possibly be a great enemy (at least, in my case before) because it can make you feel even more attached to things and persons and achievements precisely because of the preconceived notion that you've been deprived. This contradiction (the poor being lustful of things) fascinated me for long, until I noticed how some of my friends from well-to-do families puzzlingly didn't exhibit such an attachment as I did. I realized that poverty, spiritually speaking, is not about the 'lack-ness' of things but about contentment when you're economically poor and detachment when you're economically blessed.  I understood how St. Paul felt when he said (in his letter to the Philippians) how he is able to be content with whatever circumstances life throws at him, need, want, hunger, pain, excess, being full, comfort...

I am touched by how God sees through the heart, especially His ability to see through a 'poor' person's and 'rich' person's heart. True poverty and true wealth lies in the heart. In the end, as Fr. Suarez the healing priest once said, no one is rich or poor in the eyes of God, for everyone is poor in that everyone is needy, needful of God.

Prayer:

Lord, may my state of relative/perceived poverty always remind me that my true wealth is You. And even if I attain what I want, may I not be so rich as to forget my spiritual neediness. May I never be trapped into the folly of irrational acquisitiveness, to the point of thinking myself poor when in fact I have a lot to give away, especially so much invented 'unmet needs' I have accumulated and those that appear to me as trash that other people will consider treasure. May I always be mindful of that.

In connection, I wish to thank You Lord for showing me, in Your marvelous, secret way, your means of demonstrating generosity to me, a man of poor faith. I still remember the several instances you rewarded me unexpectedly for giving away some unneeded things to victims of fire, flood, and poverty with surprising rewards that only You know I will enjoy and love. You succeeded in amazing me. Truly, you are a sweet God who never allows Himself to be outdone in generosity. I've never seen a human being like that, not even the folks closest to me.


As for obedience, I am still of a somewhat divided heart. I know in my heart that I have always sought the Lord's will in all my major decisions in life -- no, even in the seemingly little things. My problem right now is questioning God's choice for me at this point, the lingering doubt of whether I should be where I am right now. I know God seems to be smiling at me in His gentle, understanding way -- that is unless He is not frustrated with my lack of trust. You see, I grew up being a consistent achiever, a fierce competitor, always aiming high, always chasing after higher and higher glory, be in in school or at work, so it is such a great letdown for me to be here: a seeming failure, a seeming loser, with almost nothing to boast of -- or at least that's how I see myself at this point (although the reader must beware of how much I exaggerate oftentimes) or how I project my fear of what others (especially my parents and peers) will think of me.

I question God on that regard, sometimes blaming Him for where I am, sometimes doubting if He really loves me as He says, sometimes suspecting He is punishing me for something I did in the past. I think this is the source of my major stressors, my depressive moments, and possibly even my illness. This is not, never, a stage I envisioned my life to be at this point.

Then again, maybe I am being worldly again in my thoughts, what with my preconceived notions on what God should do. Maybe God, in His wisdom, is up to something, something better, and certainly not out to harm me. Maybe God has a mysterious way that I still have not an inkling of. Maybe I have yet to plumb the nonlogical wisdom of God.

Maybe He is testing me for some future assignment. If that is the case, may I pass the test with flying colors.

Prayer:

Lord, continue to break my will, in case it is not broken yet. Forgive me for doubting You every so often, for being frustrated, for being sad to the point of being despondent for my perceived failings, envious of others for their perceived achievements and states in life. Help me submit to your wisdom. Help me learn to trust in Your love for me. I choose to hope against hope in You. I have no other recourse anyway but You. May you not leave me feeling all those negative feelings the great psalmist has listed down in the book of Psalms. I have become uncomfortably too familiar with all the psalmist's lamentations. May You also grant me some joy in this life, some reprieve that I may learn to obey You with joy, instead of much sulking.

Comments:
this is the third time i'm reading this post. your prayers are so heartfelt, and so helpful to me, Resty. thanks for sharing. praying with you and for you. :)
 
thanks. praying for your concerns too (those three serious health issues in the family I know). ako ang late this time because I was able to attend community without having a panic attack. your prayer seems to have worked! no, i claim it! praise God!
 
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