Wednesday, July 11, 2012
About Those Mansions...
Every so often I check the keywords that bring people to my site. Today, I looked at them and saw "i read ignatius and avila and fenelon and just get depressed".
Okay...I admit I smiled. Not because the words are funny but because these holy writers can seem rather daunting at times. When I read St. Teresa of Avila years ago my second reaction (you can read my first reaction here) was "Say what? You mean I've barely entered the castle? Mansions? Is that me over there standing in that cobwebbed corner paralyzed with fright?" Not that I could move right then anyway, mind you, because that hideous reptilian creature thingy was nipping at my heels every time I tried to take a step. Scrupulosity was his name and not much got past him. He had one serious flaw though - he kept looking at himself because he took himself too seriously and loved himself too much. (Be quiet, Sigmund! Down, Jung! ) I knew I had my work cut out for me.
This was right after my six months of "sainthood" I think. You know, right after the honeymoon period when I was booted off my "throne" for the first time. I had dust in my nose for years.
Depressed? Oh, you could say that. Overwhelmed? Hmmm...that would work too. Of course, curiosity got the best of me and I read the entire book anyway.
Then I tucked the book away in my "cellar". Gently of course. (You just don't offend your patron saint.)
As for Saint Ignatius (God bless his holy soul), I threw the book down in disgust (of myself) and didn't pick it back up for years. Talk about shining a light on one's soul! But there were a lot of things I wasn't willing to see yet so his "spiritual exercises" were left to languish on a shelf until my flabby soul had enough spiritual strength to pick it up again. You can't "exercise" when you are glued to your easy chair. (That darn throne!)
Fenelon I didn't read until recently and I immediately fell head over heels for him. His blunt writing style, his gift of exhortation - every word pierced my heart like an arrow. And it didn't hurt. It didn't depress me or overwhelm me. It gave me a clear picture of the work that still needed to be done and I appreciated it.
Why the big difference? Time, I think. Years later, I dragged my dusty copy of The Interior Castle out again and enjoyed reading it. I didn't feel depressed even though I "saw" that God still had His work cut out for Him.
He takes joy in doing it. I am not my work in progress...I am His work in progress. And that makes all the difference.