The Spiritual Edifice

The Three Ages of the Interior Life - Volume 2 - Reverend Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange O.P._html_57ca4d8eThe Three Ages of the Interior Life - Volume 2 - Reverend Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange O.P._html_m6d864de5Evil Root

Note: Drawings taken from the book, The Three Ages of the Interior Life by Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.

 

Humility is the “foundation of prayer” (CCC 2559) as well as the foundation of our own spiritual edifice. Since our spiritual life can only be as good as the foundation we build upon, the virtue of humility is essential. We start with a good foundation lain upon the Rock of Christ; for if we build our house on sand, it cannot stand. (see Mat. 7:24~7:27)

The virtue of humility is related to both the virtue of justice, which allows us to judge ourselves justly, and also the virtue of temperance, which serves to moderate the sense of our own worth. “Humility may be defined as a supernatural virtue, which, through the self-knowledge it imparts, inclines us to reckon ourselves at our true worth and to seek self-effacement (reserve in speech, behavior, or dress) and contempt (to be regarded as inferior or base).” (see A. Tanguerey, The Spiritual Life, 1127) Therefore, the basis of humility is Truth, which allows us to see ourselves as we really are, and Justice, which inclines us to act on that knowledge. Rightly understood, justice demands that we render to God all the honor and glory for that which we find as ‘good’ within us and to recognize that all ‘evil’ within us proceeds from ourselves. (see A. Tanguerey, The Spiritual Life, 1128 A.) As Christ Himself said: “No one is good but God alone.” (Mark 10:18).

We know well that though we have been washed clean of original sin by the waters of baptism, concupiscience (an inclination toward sin or evil) remains. Therefore, a true reckoning of ourselves, when viewed through the lens of God’s Goodness and Holiness, leaves us to see that we have nothing of our own which can be called Good but that which is of God Himself. Our will to abide by the Good, which God has worked in us, is then our cooperation with Him and His HolyWill. Our concupiscience remains but can be overcome by our willingness to cooperate with the Grace that God imparts to us.

Humility could simply be described as an attitude that takes responsibility for the wrongs we think, say or do while only rendering credit to God for that which is regarded as good and holy. Our demeanor might then become reserved and free of self-pride. A humble heart such as this is greatly loved by our Lord and He tends to incline His Ear to the whisperings of such a soul. It is this meekness and humility that becomes a solid foundation for our relationship with God.

The pillars of Faith, Hope and Charity sit squarely on the shoulders of this virtue, as does our prayer-life, which is the loving discourse between our souls and God. If you wish to increase your faith, hope and love and deepen your prayer-life it may pay great dividends to work on the virtue of humility. This requires vigilance in knowledge of God and in self-knowledge too (a daily examen of conscience and frequent confession aid in this regard). In order to accomplish this work within our souls, the virtues of temperance and justice might also stand in need of some strengthening.

As previously stated, our humility is to rest upon the Rock of Christ and therefore we need to conform to every projection and crevice of this Rock. There should be no voids between this foundation of humility and the Rock upon which it is poured, thus we ensure that our foundation conforms to Christ in every detail. Our humility then must begin in a liquid state, capable of being molded into the necessary shape. Once humility has allowed us to be molded by the Rock, it becomes an extension of Christ Himself, hardening into a Foundation that is unbreakable.

If we set out to build a spiritual edifice we must keep in mind that which any builder knows. The building is only as good as the foundation upon which it stands.

Women as witnesses: We are always wearing the veil

Angel, Bad, Choice, Cupid, Decisions, Devil, Evil, GoodThe tradition of women wearing a head covering during worship is nothing new. As a Jewish girl, I was drawn to this practice at a very young age, picking up the small piece of white lace and placing it over my head. I felt protected and separated for worship in a holy way. That practice was between me and God, a secret that I had inside of me. A longing to know God and be closer to him.

My search for God became more traditional. Wanting to celebrate the Sabbath, go back to the sanctuary on Saturdays and an exploration of becoming kosher. The harder I tried to conform to the Jewish law, the harder I fell, and Yom Kippur did not seem to help me at all. In fact, it was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement that led me away from me practicing my Jewish faith. I saw it as a great hypocrisy, that the Pharisees of my day would live ungodly lives 364 days a year yet on this day they were the most pious and reverent Jewish figures. I, as a pauper in synagogue, would be relegated to the nose bleed section, sometimes even in a different room from where the Rabbi was. I did not have the necessary funds to buy my seat. I had spent years under the notion that I had to pay to pray, and well, it drove me farther away from the God I loved.

In my search and quest for the truth, Christianity had never dawned on me. As a Jew, my understanding of Christianity was that all gentiles were Christians, that they were one and the same. But the concept of Jewish people alone being set apart by God haunted me, and even as a young teenager, I made it a point to invite several of my gentile friends to my bat-mitzvah, because I knew God loved them too. It was this idea of being set apart that drove me to leave the synagogue, along with its mercilessness attitude against women and their role in the religious life.

I did not come to Christ, Christ came to me. He had come to me several times before in my life, although I did not recognize him.  In my late teens and early 20’s, I was constantly invited to church, and many times I went. In my seat I would be crawling, waiting for God like in the Old Testament to strike me down. I was betraying Him just being there. And after many services I ran away like I was being chased, because well I was.

God tried to reveal himself to me, but I was not ready. I was not ready to lose my Jewish friends and community. I was not ready to be ostracized. I didn’t hear him because I was angry that he had taken my grandmother away from me. But when she died I took the Christian concept of death and incorporated it into her funeral. We celebrated her life, released butterflies and sat a short Shiva. I had been to enough Christian funerals to know that they were doing something right.

So when God led me to the Catholic church, a land I was unfamiliar with, He allowed me to see the fulfillment of the Jewish girl I was. Without knowing any doctrine apart from the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, I knew I was home. The altar, the tabernacle, the cups of wine, it was all familiar. The Torah was there but not in the form of scrolls, but instead in the form of Jesus. There was the singing of Psalms, and this time I understood them because they were not in Hebrew. But it was in kneeling before God that I felt something was missing. I later understood that call to be the call of the veil.

Wearing a veil for me completed who I had always wanted to be inside and memorialized my intimacy with God. My inner longing to be His bride was finally coming to be. I had long revered nuns even as a Jewish girl, and the mysticism their veils produced in me. I remembered the feeling of walking into that synagogue and reaching for a head covering. It was part of who I was and now am.

God calls all women to veil in special and set apart ways. Veiling is a spiritual reminder of our holiness before God. This veil we wear whether physically or spiritually is to be carried out in our Christian practice in the world, this is what sets us apart as Christian women, our holiness, our service to neighbor, our care for our families and to the sick, the poor and imprisoned. We are set apart not because of our ethnicity or religion, we are set apart because we are followers of Jesus Christ, and ALL are invited.

I am reminded by the veil that I am especially set apart by God because of my Jewish roots and conversion to Christ. I am reminded that I will always be Jewish which sets me apart for Christ. I am reminded that my thoughts on God having only the Jewish people set apart for himself were right, and that God wants all people to be his sons and daughters. And I am reminded that He has chosen me to accomplish this through wearing my veil at church and in the world.

“But you and your sons with you must take care to exercise your priesthood in whatever concerns the altar and the area within the veil.” Numbers 18: 7(a)

This is a wonderful video on veiling that I encourage all women of all backgrounds to watch. This is also the company I order all my veils from and have loved every veil I have ordered! And as I always mention with any company I support , I am not getting paid in any way to endorse Veils by Lily.

God reigned from the wood

Animal, Fight, Fighting, Lion, Mammal, PeopleOld prayer books and hymns, there is something to be said for them. We are more into HD tv’s and fancy apps then we are old, dusty books. I don’t know if things were better back then, but the years were certainly closer than we were to when Christ was on the earth, and I am moved by the depth of the words that I just can’t seem to find depth in these days.

Sometimes we have to go backwards to move forwards. Look at things and people who had insight into God. We forget that God speaks through His people, the prophets, the saints, the ones walking around. I think sometimes we miss Him because we are expecting an answer to come from somewhere else. God told me no less than 52 times through 52 people that it just wasn’t time to move yet, but I couldn’t accept that and I moved on to number 53. But yet I didn’t move. What kept me where I was? God reigning from that wood…

I have realized that even in my rebellion, even when I have not accepted, could not accept what God’s people have told me, I listened. Oftentimes we are too hard on ourselves. We are naturally unruly people which is why we need God so desperately, and God works on one thing at a time. If we are fighting to move in the direction we want to go and yet remain in the same place because God has not given us the go-ahead to move, we are still walking in obedience, and God is working on our wrestling skills…

We have no condemnation in Christ Jesus. Guilt is not conviction. If we are writhing and struggling we are showing signs that we are changing. Resisting God’s love maybe, but not straying or walking away. Sometimes an all night wrestling match may be what we need. Walking into our closets and not coming out until God has gotten what He wanted from us. Until we are free from ourselves…

I am still in the same place despite how I feel. I will not move until and unless He has said so. In the three years I have been praying the same prayer, my circumstances have not changed, but I have. He is preparing me for war…

And I cannot be a soldier if I cannot handle the ones here. I cannot run with horses if God does not prepare me for what is to come.

And although many times I cannot find the words to pray, God hears my conversations and my thoughts and my prayerful readings. He hears the beating of my heart, and my longing for more. He knows my anxieties and my fears and wants to quiet me. There is so much comfort in that. Knowing that even though I may not have the words, I do.

In order to explore His depth, the ones that came before us, the books that contain Him, the people who contain Him, we must be listening. The world must be placed behind us, underneath us, under our feet. We must live like monks in a world filled with noise. We must choose the narrow road.

Moses answered them, “Wait so that I can learn what the Lord will command in your regard.”

Numbers 9:8