Our Reversed Spiritual Vision

Even those of us firmly committed to the Christian path of sanctification often, or even usually, have a backwards vision of spiritual reality. We see ourselves as searching for God and in need of great personal effort towards purification before we can arrive at a place where we might merit great spiritual favors or experience an infused level of contemplative prayer like the saints did. The tendency in the western Church to see the spiritual path in a linear chronological manner feeds into this way of thinking and it has colored very many Catholic Christian writings and counsels even from some of the Saints. The impression is given of a regulated timeline of spiritual progress through the purgative illuminative and unitive ways, or from the first spiritual mansion to the 7th (Interior Castle of St Teresa of Avilla).

That's not to say that what was said is incorrect. Far be it from me to challenge the wisdom of the Saints. It's more in the manner and emphasis of delivery, and perhaps some misrepresentations of writings about the Saints by others who might want to whitewash their humanity and struggle with sin. A good example of this is the careful omission of Saint Therese of Liseux's struggle with temptations to suicide by those involved in the publishing of the "Story of a Soul". It wasn't deemed fitting material for the aura that should surround a Saint. In fact it was a great disservice to those who with similar struggles could relate to her humanity and plead for her intercession. Neither is it to say that the path of acesis in the spiritual life and the need for detachment is unimportant. This is a question of changing to the correct vantage point, one that is liberated from the reason clouding effects of original sin which sees everything from a center of gravity that is within the self.

Reversing the perspective from self to God is beautifully revealing and liberating. Suddenly I realize that it's not me that is searching for God but rather God who is on the quest me, (God loved us First (1 Jn 4:19)). A Copernican shift occurs in the realization that God is not a part of my world, it is I who am a part of His world. The Kingdom of heaven is not a far away place, neither up down or in any particular direction, but I am immersed in it. The saints and angels brush shoulders with me but the Mercy of God veils all from my sight to give me the time to convert, because I could not now live and see the face of God. Finally I realize that it is through the mystical action and baptism in the Holy Spirit that I am born again to a new life. I have merited nothing at all, the mystical experience happens first at the very beginning and all further growth comes as a consequence of having found that pearl of great price and wanting to treasure it and allow it to grow I fight against  any desire that is not for God alone.

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