|I was violently attacked by tumbleweeds Monday driving through Arizona|
This is the third in a series of notes re a recent retreat, with Br. Joseph F. Schmidt, a devotee and student of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.
Thérèse's spirituality has come to be known as the "Little Way."
The first thing to note is that the "Little Way" does not refer, or does not refer exclusively, to the habit of doing "little" things for God. It refers instead to her realization that she was not strong enough, noble enough, or spiritually advanced enough to lift herself up to God. Using the metaphor of a "Divine Elevator," God would lift Him up to her.
Her genius lies in integrating the psychological and the spiritual. Because continuing the theme that the chief characteristic of God is non-violence, she realized that to try, to strain, to generate love for people, many of whom we don't remotely like, is a form of violence.
She began to realize that our love for God isn't something we manufacture on our own and "give" to God. She realized God first loves us, then we love Him. We love God by letting Him love us, not by "working" at love.
Thérèse died at the age of 24, with no pain medication, of complications from TB that included gangrene of the intestines. On her deathbed, she said, in so many words, "I'm not working at all: I'm just receiving God's love. "
BR. JOSEPH SCHMIDT'S SIX PSYCHOLOGICAL INDICATORS OF THE "LITTLE WAY":
1. Inner freedom: this freedom is unique to each individual. Co-dependency is a good thing taken too far. Pleasing people is a virtue; sensitivity is a virtue. The problem comes when we exercise these virtues out of compulsion. With inner freedom, we're no longer pushed around by our feelings, even our feelings of guilt and shame.
2. Creativity: for love to be authentic love, it has to be creative. We each get to show forth our love in a new way, unique to us. We get to be open and flexible.
3. Compassion: the emphasis is on empathy, i.e. doing things on other people's terms. It's not empathy to "dump" your love on people, to over-emote. Compassion is giving other people what they need, not what you need. We're able to do this because we've developed healthy boundaries.
4. Willingness: as opposed to willfulness. Will is vitality, desire, determination, energy, power. In the use of our will, we've been enormously influenced by the culture. The culture promotes PREdetermination, OVERpowering, DOMINATING energy. The culture equates will power with willfulness; i.e. if you're not willful, forceful, and/or violent, you're a chump; you're a doormat.
Thérèse tried using her willfulness, her will power, to correct herself for years. She found that it didn't work. She discovered that we have to respect our own weaknesses and limitations. She finally realized that all Jesus requires is good will, i.e. willingness, not willfulness.
5. Surrender: ego couches violence in such a way that the violence tells us it's for our own good. "Who am I going to be," we ask ourselves, "if I'm not successful, loved, admired, good?" Again, we have to be willing to be the saint God wants us to be, not necessarily the one we want to be.
6. Gratitude. Major. Always.
These characteristics are universally available. They do not require great intellect, money, worldly or spiritual achievement. They all point to self-acceptance: surrendering to the reality of who we are. And THEY CONSTITUTE THE SPIRIT OF THE GOSPELS.
|THE MOTEL 6 IN FLAGSTAFF|
I HAD ROOM 224
THE WIFI DIDN'T WORK SO I GOT MY $3.27 BACK
AND USED THE WIFI AT MACDONALD'S
The Little Way begins by freeing us from all lingering thoughts and excessive feelings of fear; and invites us to love God by being available to receive God's love and to love all God loves;
Then we walk away from all arithmetic and ledger-keeping in our spiritual life and abandon any tendency toward perfectionism or willfulness;...
Then we find it no longer necessary to be rude or self-seeking;
Then we stop brooding over injuries and end rejoicing in the wrongs of others;
Then we no longer put a time limit on our forbearance, trust or hope;
Then we cease doing violence to ourselves...to others or to any creature in our thoughts, feelings or behavior;
The the Little Way frees us from the need to delight in anything but truth and goodness and beauty.
From Br. Joseph Schmidt's conception of THE MOVEMENT FROM PERFECTION TO COMPASSION:
To be in a spirit of surrender, gratefulness and willingness is not a "project," an achievement, or an acquisition. It is not the result of our willfulness.
To be in a spirit of surrender and willingness is rather the result of our awareness of God's love and the awareness of our weakness...We die to "ourselves;", our willfulness, our agenda, our acquiring, our ambitions, even our spiritual ambitions.
We are not "achievers," who give our love to ourselves, to the world, to God.
We are mediators, allowing God's love and mercy to flow in us ("our" love for ourself), through us to the world ("our" love for the world), and return to God ("our" love for God).
We do not strive to love God and so have "love of God."
We allow God's love to find a home in us, and this is "our" love of God.
From St. Thérèse:
"Perfections seems simple to me; I see it is sufficient to recognize one's nothingness and to abandon oneself as a child into God's arms."
"Merit does not consist in doing or giving much, but rather in receiving, in loving much...When Jesus wills to take for Himself the sweetness of giving, it would not be gracious to refuse."
"What offends Jesus, what wounds him to the heart, is our lack of confidence. You can never have too much confidence in God, who is so powerful and so merciful. You receive from God as much as you hope for."
|The Cajon Pass from the San Bernadino to the San Gabriel Mountains in 1954|
This is now Interstate 15 and if you have made a LONG trip
and live in L.A.
coming through you know you're almost home