Sitting in the darkness

And my final excerpt from Fr. Marc Foley’s book, The Context of Holiness:

Acts of faith are expressed in two ways.  The first is our willingness to jump into the darkness, that is, choosing to trust in God’s guidance as we venture into the unknown.  The second is our willingness to sit in the darkness, which is continuing to do God’s will when our emotional resources are depleted and life seems hollow, meaningless and absurd.  . . .

These are the worst times in our life of faith when viewed from a psychological and emotional perspective.  But from a spiritual vantage point, they are potentially the best of times.  For when we continue to do God’s will without emotional support, our love for God and neighbor grows and is purified.

To look at Him who is looking at you

A fascinating way of looking at holiness, and not necessarily an easy one:

Holiness consists in enduring God’s glance.  It may appear mere passivity to withstand the look of an eye; but everyone knows how much exertion is required when this occurs in an essential encounter.  Our glances mostly brush by each other indirectly, or they turn quickly away, or they give themselves not personally but only socially.  So too do we constantly flee form God into a distance that is theoretical, rhetorical, sentimental, aesthetic, or most frequently, pious.  Or we flee from him to external works.  And yet, the best thing would be to surrender one’s naked heart to the fire of this all–penetrating glance.  The heart would then itself have to catch fire, if it were not always artificially dispersing the rays that come to it as through a magnifying glass.  Such father-sonenduring would be the opposite of a Stoic’s hardening his face: it would be yielding, declaring oneself beaten, capitulating, entrusting oneself, casting oneself into him.  It would be childlike loving, since for children the glance of the father is not painful: with wide-open eyes they look into his.  Little Thérèse–great little Thérèse–could do it.  Augustine’s formula on the essence of eternity: videntem videre–‘to look at him who is looking at you.’  (Hans Urs Von Balthasar, The Grain of Wheat)

True courage

I just finished reading a beautiful book on prayer, Hidden Mountain, Secret Garden, by Dr. Anthony Lilles.  I liked his take on the difference between bravery and courage:

True humility attracts God.  Humility regulates how we esteem ourselves.  The word humility itself derives from the Latin humus which means rich fertile soil.  This suggests the great primordial truth of our origins.

Man was fashioned from the dust of the earth, and at the end of his days, he returns to it.  God breathed his life into mud and made it capable of doing something divine.  Life is a very fragile gift lavished upon us when we have done nothing to deserve it.  We have only a very brief time to make of it something beautiful for God.  God is attracted to souls that ground their lives in this truth.  Such humility permits Him to accomplish great things.

A particular kind of courage needs to go with such humility: the courage to accept ourselves, including our weaknesses.  Romano Guardini distinguishes this sort of courage from bravery.  Bravery confronts things that threaten us from without.  Courage, from this perspective, helps us confront what is within us.  This is not the same as excusing our own sinfulness.  It is a matter of humbly accepting the truth about ourselves, courageously acknowledging we need God’s help.

(Anthony Lilles, Hidden Mountain, Secret Garden)