Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Contemplative Study: Part I

Searching for and Maintaining Peace: A Small Treatise on Peace of Heart, by Fr. Jacques Philippe

Part one of this study covers the first small section of Part One (Interior Peace, The Road to Saintliness): Without Me, You Can Do Nothing.

Complete surrender to God. OY. Why is it so difficult to face complete surrender? Probably because I believe, at least partly--and partly is enough--the first lie of the devil. That first lie, which says, "God does not love you." I can say, all I want, that I trust the Lord, that I know He loves me--that He wants the best for me, and does not plan suffering for me maliciously. But if I am wholly honest, I know my heart does not fully believe it. I think, even before RG I still did not fully believe this. But especially now, now that RG is dead, and I have lived through the trauma that was his life, birth, and death all at once, that lie echoes in my heart. How easily I have allowed Satan to infiltrate my heart! For it was he, not my Lord, who introduced death into this existence. It was he that first spoke that lie, who first believed it himself. And I have allowed him to tell me that lie every single day since RG died. 

St. Michael the Archangel, come to my side! Defend me from this onslaught! Help me to cast Satan out!

Fr. Jacques suggests all the ways available to Christians to grow closer to God, including "prayer (specifically meditation, which [as Father also said] is so fundamental in this regard), of the sacraments, of the purification of our hearts, of docility to the Holy Spirit." But essential to all of these, and therefore, as a necessary prelude, is peace of heart: "it is of the greatest importance that we strive to acquire and maintain an interior peace, the peace of our hearts" (emphasis his). Oh, my peace has been disturbed. Not like a pebble thrown into a still lake, but like a catastrophic tsunami. And in order to bear fruit again (both literally and figuratively) I must return to this peace. And it is not something I can do alone. Fr. Jacques writes that the realization that "apart from God, you can do nothing" (NOTHING) is a necessary prerequisite to "all the great things that God will do in us by the power of His Grace." 

This task is daunting. It is overwhelming. It feels like too much. Thank you, Lord for giving me this desire to be close to You, even though I am anxious about the path to You. Please, Lord, send your angels to defend me in this task. Console me; I beg You to give me Your consolation, that I might know where next to step. Do not abandon me. Please remind me everyday that You alone can achieve this peace in my heart, if only I would soften my heart to You. Remind me that even though my children (and hopeful future children) are an objective good, they are not You who are my "only good." Help my heart to detach from RG enough to properly order him next to You, oh Lord, my superior good. For I know that You hold RG in your arms at every second, and that he is in no pain, nor danger. You said that anyone who loves his spouse or his children more than You is not worthy of you. Though I understand that intellectually, it is difficult for me to accept. Please soften my heart to you, and grant that I will recognize how You love me. Fiat.

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