Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Out of the Swamp of Darkness: 3

It came as a real surprise!

A mountain trip!

It truly refreshed me physically, emotionally, spiritually.

I have Lucille to thank [ their blog is:    ]
for allowing John take the time to bring me into the mountains.

The mountains are a few hours away from my urban hermitage. The drive itself  was healing as we drove through ever changing beauty of farmland, villages, and this far north, even between cities on busy routes, we are still spared the plethora of roadside signage and countless gas station-restaurant-rest stops, so common elsewhere in the country.

Thus even from a great distance first the foothills, then the mountains themselves, come into clear view in all their majestic reflection of His glorious creation.

Among the many adventures was our hike 7,000 feet up one mountain, with a stroll out onto a glacier where we picked up and chewed refreshing pieces of ice which sparkled in the sunlight, even though it was past 10 in the evening.

That is another wonder of living this far north! At this time of year, just below the actual land of the midnight sun, sunset comes around 11 in the evening, while the sky never goes fully dark in the couple of hours before the first hint of dawn appears.

I mention the above because there is a gap between the struggle described in these recent posts and now actually emerging out of the swamp of darkness – granted just emerging  now,  yet far enough that I, especially after the hike 7, 000 feet up, know the grace of ascent has been granted.

So while I continued therapy I also needed to, and did, re-avail myself of all the resources the Spirit offers us through the ministry of Holy Mother the Church, in the Sacraments and sacramentals.

Thus, in the struggle out of the swamp of darkness, frequent reception of Divine Mercy through sacramental confession, daily fidelity to the celebration of Holy Mass, with Christ communicating Himself to me in the Holy Eucharist,  receiving from time to time over the months the Sacrament of Healing of the Sick, the blessing each day of my hermitage with Holy Water, are among the various resources of which I take full use.

Because he is such a coward the evil one, no matter how he might package it, has only one thing to offer: rupture of our relationship with the Giver of all good gifts.

Satan prefers to hound those wounded, exhausted, ill, weakened in some way, for he avoids those strong in Christ, only assaulting them when they let their guard down.

His preferred mode of assault is primarily with his deceptions and discouragement, then when the soul becomes exhausted by these he switches to various temptations of ill-temper, lust, self-comforting, etc., etc.

Now the great illusion herein is that satan somehow pays primary attention to us, even cares somehow. In truth, because he is anti-love, he is incapable of caring for anyone. He can only hate. Indeed  his one and only obsession is his spiritually insane hatred of Christ.

Satan attacks us in a vain attempt to reach Christ within us – Christ already victorious.  However unless we cling to Christ who has already overcome the evil one and death, we will be vulnerable to the wiles of the evil one.

As the first pope teaches, and in the intensity of 21st century spiritual warfare we should all heed: Stay sober and alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion seeking for someone to devour. Resist him, solid in your faith. [ 1 Pt. 5:8-9 ]

It is especially, then, when we are already weakened by some other factor, such as being deeply mired in the swamp of darkness, emotional or physical ill health, grief, stress of various kinds, loneliness etc., etc., that we must beg for the grace of prudent discernment to avoid two serious misjudgements.

The first is to presume something which requires proper medical/therapeutic intervention is ‘merely’ a spiritual struggle and the second is the mirror image of the former, namely, to assume something is ‘merely’ a physical/emotional issue and negate its spiritual dimension.

For every immortal soul everything in our lives has a spiritual dimension to it, from the work of our hands to the work of the Holy Spirit within us.

Indeed the ultimate purpose of work is worship. The ultimate purpose of our worship, especially in the summit event of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, is union, spiritual marriage, with the Word.

Such completeness in love with love Himself is truly to receive the fullness of life’s breath!

We need therefore, since anti-love satan does everything possible to interfere with this pilgrimage of work to worship to union, always to be aware that greater than any attempt by the evil one to disconcert, deceive or discourage us – and unless we surrender our wills to him the evil one is only able to attack from outside our being – is the  reality, the truth, that the Holy Spirit Himself dwells within we the baptized, His living temple.  

Without ever diminishing our free-will freedom, the Holy Spirit is unceasingly at work within us: If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through His Spirit that dwells in you. [ Rm.8:11 ]

This gift of life’s breath is not only the promise of resurrection but is the gift of true life, fullness of life, in time and history.

Christ’s life within us.

So we should not be surprised, nor stressed out by the fact that everything we experience in this life is ultimately an occasion for grace, can be a dimension of spiritual warfare, of the cross, but always is a matter of love.

Love involves often times pain, struggle, but also mostly joy.

True,  when deep in the swamp of darkness we can forget this and become engulfed in a ‘woe-is-me’ attitude which lies to self that we are the ONLY one all sorts of bad stuff happens to, when in truth struggle, battle, suffering are part of being a real witness of Christ: The dragon grew angry…and went…to wage war with…[those]…who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus. [Rv. 12:17 ]

So when we are in the swamp of darkness it is critical to be sure we discern what requires proper medical/therapeutic assistance, and get such help, without ever forgetting the spiritual aspects of life, availing ourselves of all the instruments of grace: especially staying close to Our Blessed Mother, being always in her school, for it is she who reminds us constantly, in the depths of suffering: We know everything works for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose. [ Rm. 8.28 ]

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