The Sarabite: Towards an Aesthetic Christianity

There is a continuous attraction, beginning with God, going to the world, and ending at last with God, an attraction which returns to the same place where it began as though in a kind of circle. -Marsilio Ficino

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

"Dios no se compra"

On the life and death of a vocation

Why we do things in life is often not something we can know too much about. Often, even the most altruistic goals can have very base and selfish motives. We would like to think that we are always in control, that we are fully aware of what we are doing and why we are doing it. We would like to think.....

There are excuses: modern life is centered in selfishness. No one wants to give themselves over unconditionally to Christ. So someone has to do it. And if not me, then who?

I have been through it all. You name it, I did it. I like to brag that in religious life, I did everything from bake a cake to dig a grave. Vigils? Did that. Exile? Try South America for two years. Hunger? Yep. Loneliness. All of the time. I jumped through the hoops. I endured the insults. I slept on the ground. But it availed me nothing, because I did not do it out of love. This I say to my own shame.

Many in the Church would like to think that if we just returned to the "ancient ways", the Church would be rejuvenated. They speak of returning to tradition, of reviving practices that have long since been forgotten. If only we suffered more, if only we fasted more, if only our services were longer. If only..... If only......

I am beginning to think, however, that we have lost the language that was at the center of this ascetical literature. We have lost the language of unconditional surrender to God. Maybe this language was never really mastered by man; more often than not, we have wanted to restrict the actions of the Holy Spirit to formulas, in order to control where He blows and where He doesn't. But this is doomed to failure. Traditionalism will turn to atrophy, and in its worse form, become a totalitarianism that is merely a mimicry of real Christianity.

As I have said, there is no more "golden chain" of elders than can teach us these things but God has not abandoned us. A friend of mine once said that it can be a bit disappointing to realize that the only reason you have lived is to be a cautionary tale to others. Well, let this be mine to you: as a person I met told me: "Dios no se compra" - God is not bought off. There is no running from yourself, and religious life can be a great place to hide from God. By this, I do not mean to discourage vocations, only to help them to approach the way of perfection with eyes wide open.

I now go forth in my own Christian life without the shield of a monastic habit. I have no regrets: I am a much stronger person for having five years of my youth serving the Lord. I feel that I needed to do that just to believe the way "normal" people do. However, never again, I pray, may I try to bargain with God. I now accept His will whatever it may be, even if it means being "normal".


At 2:16 PM, Blogger Sean Roberts said...

You are in my prayers, Arturo... welcome back to the world of grillz, VH1 and 'da Club'!

At 7:48 PM, Blogger thirsty scribe said...

"I am beginning to think, however, that we have lost the language that was at the center of this ascetical literature."

That line really hit me.

This might not be central to your post, but your line reminds me of the way some Catholic traditionalists are too afraid to talk about love. As if love is too much of a 'left' idea.

True, the Christian hippies have cheapened love in all its dimensions. But if we give up on 'love' than we also dispense with biblical spirituality itself (John, Paul, etc.).

Whatever you are reading sounds very insightful.

At 7:48 PM, Blogger thirsty scribe said...

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