Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Desert, Sin, and the Death of the Senses

One analogy that can be used to facilitate this meditation on our continued journey in the desert, is our experience of having spent a number of hours, or days on a boat. Once we get back to dry land, we will still "experience" the motions of the boat while on land for a number of hours, or even days depending on how long we spent in it.

Another analogy that can be used is a long trip via car. After spending 8 or 10 hours on the road, when one finally comes to their destination, one still "experiences" being in motion even though we are no longer in the car.

We in the West live in a society where certain factions go to great efforts to over stimulate us. Our spirits and senses are forever being bombarded by the many forms of media with one message or another. We have become so accustomed to this stimulation, that we now take that stimulation with us in the form of personal music players, personal DVD players, DVD players in the car, televisions in every room - even in the car! Ear buds in the ears, little view screens before the eyes, big view screens and surround sound at home, PDAs, cell phones, and constant contact devices, all provide to maintain our level of ongoing stimulation. Neither our personal or our professional lives are exempt from over stimulation.

All of this stimulation can be a very subtle seduction of our heart, mind, and spirit. The seductive intent is purely to draw us away from ever allowing us to enter into the desert, thus into a deeper relationship with Jesus, to provide a vehicle for us to run away from the desert, or in some way be our "Mirage".

Much like that ongoing motion that we experience after a long trip on the road, when we enter into the desert our perpetual stimulation has a "momentum" all to itself. The absence of the sources of our over stimulation will perhaps go unnoticed due to the fact that we still experience that stimulation within our heart, mind, and spirit. All of the visual, auditory, sensual elements are there for us at our imagination's "fingertips".

From the introduction to St. John of the Cross' Dark Night of the Soul:
What is really at stake in the spiritual journey to union with God is an ongoing work of purification, a cleansing of all that is repugnant to God's holiness. Collected Works p. 355 (Kavanaugh & Rodriguez)
The very specific Desert Call that we are focusing on here is one that requires a form of brutal honesty with ourselves. It is realizing how we have allowed ourselves to be immersed in all of the over stimulation, the "noise" if you will, in our daily lives thus leaving no room for God.

While in the desert, if we are attentive, the Holy Spirit will give us gentle inspirations to guide us towards the elements that make up our environment of over stimulation. We will be given insight into the methods that we can use to gain control over our heart, mind, and spirit.

When we speak of the senses, here are the traditional 5:
  1. Sight
  2. Hearing
  3. Touch
  4. Smell
  5. Taste
We must remember, that everything we see, hear, touch, smell, and taste will also have spiritual consequences. It is for this reason, that when we have journeyed deeper into the desert and received the call of the Holy Spirit to purify our senses, we must find ourselves a spiritual director (SD).

With the help of an unbiased mind and heart in our SD, we will be able to work our way through the various sources of stimulation and begin to put limits on their place in our lives. These limits will help to clear a way for us to give time to our relationship with God. A neat benefit of this process is the discovery of more time for those around us! Our SD and the limits we set together will also help us to deal with the effects of the "momentum" the sources of over stimulation have.

From The Three Ages of the Interior Life by Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange O.P. (Volume 1 p.285):
The mortification of all that is inordinate in us is necessary:
  1. because of the consequences of original sin;
  2. because of the results of our personal sins;
  3. because of the infinite elevation of our supernatural end;
  4. because we must imitate our crucified Lord.
Everything has its time and place (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). In a marital relationship, one must live a life of service to their partner. One must make great efforts to build and maintain that relationship. If not, the marriage would surely die in divorce.

Just like a marital relationship, if we do not spend the time that the Holy Spirit is calling us to on letting go of all of the over stimulation of our senses, our relationship with God will die. We will experience the spiritual divorce of mortal sin.

Prayer: Father, thank You for the grace You have given us to enter deeper into our desert journey. Thank You for calling our attention to the things in our life that distract us from spending time with You and those that we love.

Thank You Jesus for giving us Your example. Thank You for first journeying into the desert to show us the way to be purified from those things that take us away from You. Jesus, help us to give over our wills one hundred percent to this purification process. Help us to discover the gifts that You have in store for us as we journey in the desert.

Jesus, in Your Divine Merciful Love, purify us of all that is not of You.
Jesus, in Your Divine Merciful Love, purify us of all that is not of You.
Jesus, in Your Divine Merciful Love, purify us of all that is not of You.

Holy Spirit, please keep inspiring us with the Light of Christ! Illuminate in us all that needs to be purged in order for us to be perfect vessels of Your Love! Grant us the grace to embrace this purgation!


Pax vobis,


Further Lenten Desert meditations:
The Desert, Sin, and the Tangible Loss of Grace
The Desert, Sin, and the PPP Temptations
The Desert, Sin, and the "Great Mirage"

No comments: