Monday, November 1, 2010

Spiritual discernment? Or just restlessness?

Having recently lost two friends from my parish to another church, I can't help but wondering whether the attempt to pray, to determine what God is calling you to do, might not hide within it a great danger, the seduction of wanting God to call you away from where you are.

Let me give an example. Say I am an ordinary believer in a church. To go about the ordinary business of being a Christian is often very dry, requiring one to maintain faith even when it doesn't seem as if there are any concrete results. This is the usual state of life for most of us. But when confronted with the slow martyrdom of an ordinary life, we get bored. We lose heart. Here is where the temptation comes: What if God is calling me to change? To find a better church? Now I become important, someone who matters. Maybe God is not calling me to change, but to endure. But enduring is boring! It is seductive to consider oneself part of a grand plan that will bear visible earthly results.

The still small voice of God might be saying "Stay right where you are."


Anonymous said...

is that an acedia post i feel coming?

Throwback said...

We grow in the desert.

As C-3PO said, "We were made to suffer; it's our lot in life."

Doesn't fly very well with modernity, though.

Atticus said...

I don't believe in the concept of "ordinary believer." Allow me to illustrate my point quickly by juxtaposing two quotes:

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle."
- Philo of Alexandria

"Some day, in years to come, you will be wrestling with the great temptation, or trembling under the great sorrow of your life. But the real struggle is here, now, in these quiet weeks. Now it is being decided whether, in the day of your supreme sorrow or temptation, you shall miserably fail or gloriously conquer. Character cannot be made except by a steady, long continued process."
- Phillips Brooks

If we live in "occupied territory," as C.S. Lewis described the world, then a Church search, as my Evangelical friends call it, becomes an exercise in pride for the Catholic. (I am assuming your friends have left your parish for other parishes.) The task at hand is so dangerious, so exciting, and so unique every day that it seems silly if not prideful to be concerned about the particular guerilla cell, i.e., parish, we frequent.

I have seen this phenomenon in my parish where two friends refuse to worship at our parish because it is, at the same time, too liberal or too conservative to these two fellows of opposing views. Both try to convince me of the rectitude of their choices and get angry when I tell them "the Mass is the Mass." Oddly enough, they take this as a slight on the faith when I mean it in the very opposite way, i.e., the immensity of the Consecration pales all incidental issues.

Oh well, I trust I make myself obscure, as someone famous once said, but I just got home and am a bit tired.

Karl said...

Atticus, I understand completely.

My friends left for another church, namely the Orthodox Church.

Throwback said...

Wow. That stinks. Do you mind sharing the rationale? The Catholics I know who have gone that route did so for free reign in contraceptive matters.

Karl said...

As far as I can tell, they left for restlessness. They would probably put it as a dissatisfaction with our bishops. I don't know exactly, since they didn't talk to me about it at all. I would have been unsympathetic, which is probably why they didn't talk to me.

Throwback said...

If that was it, I'm not sure they'll find it any different in Orthodoxy. They don't seem to be any more pleased with their bishops right now than we are.