Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I guess that makes this blog ...

... a little superfluous?

From yesterday's Magnificat meditation:

"It is better to advance towards God and virtue by the sentiments of the heart than by the thoughts of the mind, and it is important to feed the heart and starve the mind: i.e., to desire God, to sigh after him and aspire to his holy love, to an intimate union with him without the diversion of so many thoughts and mental reflections which often dry up the heart and become a sort of dissipation, a pure amusement of the intelligence, a series of vain complacencies in our own thoughts and speculations. It is far better to be occupied with the care to belong to God without reserve, with the desire of the interior life, of a profound humility, of fervor, of the gift of prayer, of the love of God, of the true spirit of Jesus Christ, and of the practice of the virtues that he taught by his virtues and his divine example, etc., than to make a thousand useless reflections on these very subjects. When one feels none of these desires, the sole desire to possess them, the affection of the heart alone suffices to keep a soul recollected and united to God.

"Once more: the simple tendency of the heart towards God, or towards certain virtues, in order to please him, causes us to advance more than all our grand thoughts and reflections."

~Father Jean-Pierre de Caussade, SJ

One of my favorite spiritual guides, Father Caussade has more on this in his sweet, little book, The Sacrament of the Present Moment. It's a very easy, but profound, read--perfect for the busy life that leaves little room for ponderous, "grand" thoughts.


gsk said...

I'm so glad you brought up that meditation, because it perplexed me. I trust the good Father so I must be careful not to misconstrue him, but it struck me as backwards (ok, I'm German). I've never counted on the heart because it's not very sentimental or emotional (perhaps that's not what he meant). The only "highs" I've ever felt in the faith have been academic "a ha!!" moments which almost transported me [somewhere] over the awesomeness of God.

It's not that life is dry duty -- but I try to join my will to God's will and hope my heart limps along. I'd never let my heart lead, because I'd be dead.


e2 said...

Hmm. I think the confusion here lies in definition of terms, for sure. Your hesitation exactly matches what my own was a few years ago: I was completely sold on CS Lewis's formulation that it's not about how you feel. Our relationship with God, our moral choices, cannot be reduced to a feeling. Mostly because I, too, am not a "high" person (in any sense!). I'm not emotional; if I let my emotions lead, my faith would be dead, too.

And I don't think that Father Caussade here intends to be backwards in the sense of sending us all back to our nursery faith and morals based on feelings of intimacy or affection. I think he means the "heart" in the sense Pascal meant the heart when he said, "The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing." (The most misquoted and oft-quoted Pascal out there!)

The heart in this sense refers primarily to the will (as in, you are joining your will to God's will). To "sigh after" God is to direct, to intend, His will for you and for the world even if you don't "feel it" that day. It is the act of submitting everything you are to Him; the heart is the seat of love. And love, of course, is not an emotional high (if it was, most of our marriages would be "dead")! It is the self-gift that we make because of who God is and who we are not.

So, we can only count on the heart in this, the Pascalian sense. Because, well, we saw where reason brought us post-Enlightenment. We saw where Hallmark mushiness brought us post-sexual revolution. It's all about the submission of our inmost self--the heart's reasons.

gsk said...

You rock -- thanks!

(We may have been separated at birth, but you definitely got the better education :-)

e2 said...

Haha! I always thought I had an unfortunate twin. :) (That's meant tongue-in-cheek!)