Friday, March 6, 2009

The First Step was a Doozy.. I Cought on Fire, There were Flames and Smoke

I took some steps forward two weeks ago and then crashed, burned and fell on my face.

Oh I should perhaps talk about my intent. My intent is to find my spiritual home at this point... to find perhaps where it is God is taking me.

In the last year, I sought God, I yelled at God, I gave up on him... and then he gave me the old spiritual wake up back hand.

God powdered up his grooming hand and sent my head spinning.

So now, I am seeking the questions that I want answers to. Yes you read the correctly... I am no longer looking for the answers. Now I am seeking the questions themselves. I have to start somewhere right?

Two weeks ago I needed to find something. So I stumbled upon a website that dealt with religion and the geek that is me. The site was meant for all sects, branches and denominations of Christianity. At least that is what they wrote on their site, however age old animosities between branches pop up here and there. Especially in the form of self righteous condemnations towards Catholics.

Oh call me funny, so far all the doctrine of the Catholic church has made sense to me and has been sound and there is the fact that the wife and the kids are Catholic so my disappointment towards that community was pretty heavy.

I am perhaps tackling this all wrong.

Perhaps, and this idea is literally hitting me as I write this... perhaps I should find my questions and then ask various religious leaders those questions. This should, in sound theory through past experiences, lead me to new questions. This is a fantastic idea.

Now to contemplate the questions.

8 comments:

Scott J said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scott J said...

Damien,

This is wild. I am Scott J who had been commenting here last summer before you stopped blogging. I just happened to check this blog yesterday, and, lo and behold, you just posted two days ago after a hiatus. I have not been checking your blog after you said you were finished. The reason I came back actually was to copy my posts from last summer's comments because I did not save them initially and I wanted to have a copy of what I wrote.

So, I come to your blog for my own purposes, and you just made a new entry. Wild.

How are your wife and kids?

I sounds to me like God permitted you a very special experience of His ability to reveal Himself through events in our lives and in other's lives. May I say, please let this experience go to waste. I assume you are not, but I say this because it is possible to do so.

We should not expect God to do these sorts of things often. They happen only rarely, at very particular times and circumstances, and when they do, usually this indicates a special period of grace for the person involved. I think God has bestowed you with a special grace which He now wants you to grab hold of and follow up on.

I lost an uncle about two years ago whom I had known quite well from early childhood. He died of pancreatic cancer.

About six months before my uncle died (after he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which is very lethal and quick) I prayed very specifically to God, to please let me be at my uncle's side when he died (whenever that would be). This is exactly what happened.

This was not a given because at the time I was in a different state and my situation did not necessarily permit my quickly traveling on short notice. But, when my uncle was hospitalized and things looked bad I was able to travel to the hospital. And not only was I indeed at his side as he passed--I was the only one with him. It was just he and I. (My mother--his sister--had been there as well, but she had just gotten a call from her other brother to go pick him up at the airport. My uncle died during the hour she was gone and only I was there with him.)

Personally I am certain that God answered my prayer to be with him in that moment. If it were not so, he would have died alone.

I don't mean to turn the subject to me, but I thought I would mention this because of your remarkable experience with your uncle.

Please, I'll offer just one small thought here as a general comment, not knowing where you are at at this time: God's ultimate purpose for giving us life here on this earth is not to preserve our bodily life at all costs, but, to give us the experience of this life so that, with our free cooperation, He may prepare us each for our true home which is life eternal with Him. Even if your uncle had died, it would not have meant that God was not real or does not care about you. We are all going to die--the only question is how and when. But, your sense that God intervened somehow and that this may have been meant in part to reveal to you God's reality and His concern for you, is probably on target.

I would like to repeat advice I think I gave before: I hope you are praying earnestly to God (so long as you believe he exists in some form, you don't have to have a fully Christian belief, just believe he exists and can hear your prayers) to lead you into the full truth about Him. Pray every day for His guidance to know what is true about Him and He will, somehow, answer your prayer. But don't give up! He has opened a door and He wants you to walk through it. God bless.

Scott J said...

Oops. I'm tired. I made a mistake above. When I wrote, "please let this experience go to waste," I certainly did not mean that. I meant to say, "please do not let this experience go to waste."

Damien said...

I have learned some very valuable lessons this last year. When I had given up on God... that is when he showed me that he had not given up on me.

I was humbled in that I realized that he does know me. That he is not some cold entity in a distant place.

I also learned that I need to stop looking for a season of bliss and happiness. It will never come if I do that. Instead I have been looking forward to something good each and every single day.

The wife and kids are fantastic thank you for asking... they are a daily reminder of good things.

I am looking forward with excitement and looking backwards only for wisdom and knowledge.

I never want to be in that deep pit of despair that I felt for most of last year. I did not like how I felt and I did not like how I thought.

Scott J said...

Damien, Awesome! This is all great to hear!

"I also learned that I need to stop looking for a season of bliss and happiness."

In your learning this, you have gained an extremely valuable key to how people of deep faith live their lives without going into despair or turning away from faith when they or those they love suffer.

It's not that we can't expect joy in this life. Certainly, there is joy in life. But, there is also suffering. And embracing and living the Christian faith does not take the suffering away. But, it does put it into a whole new context. A mysterious, awesome, incredibly meaningful context.

If you are up for reading a deep exploration of the meaning of suffering from a Catholic point of view, Pope John Paul II wrote an encyclical on this very subject. The English title is usually given as, "On the Christian Meaning of Suffering." You can read it on the net. Here is a link: http://tinyurl.com/brkbev

I would note, as a convert who did not embrace Christianity fully until age 28, that one of the most remarkable and distinctive elements of historic Christian faith (especially in the wisdom of Catholicism), is how suffering is approached.

Other religions (like Buddhism) try to eliminate it through a sort of quietism (an absence of deliberate engagement in the world and its problems) and a dissipation of the personal core of the individual. Christianity does not do this. It does not seek suffering--it does not like suffering--however, it does learn to take the suffering that will happen in life and transform it to a higher spiritual purpose in union with Christ. In this way, the pain that we encounter in life--our griefs, sorrows, and woes--we do not deny, do not run from, do not hide the tears, but rather, with the help God, we may allow our pain to become a unique and powerful form of prayer for the good of others. This is an especially beneficial subject for prayer and meditation in this season, seeing as how it is Lent.

This subject reminds me of, what to me, is one of the most intriguing things Jesus said: “My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you.” (Jn 14:7; emphasis mine).

This peace that Jesus offers to us is the sort of interior centeredness in Him that is not necessarily synonymous with what the world at large is more likely to think of as being at peace, which is merely a certain exterior contentment and absence of strife.

Christian Saints often had a strong devotion to praying with or in front of a Crucifix. Indeed, we have so much to learn in life. Especially, as the Saints say, in the "school of the cross."

God love you!

Scott J said...

Hello again!

I want to mention what a blessing it is to read above about the better perspective and deeper understanding God has helped you to acquire.

It is so true that God knows you personally and cares about you!

Figuratively speaking, his "face" is turned toward you; He is always ready to draw you nearer to Him so long as you do your small part in grasping His outstretched hand in yours and letting Him draw you, in His way, into His heart.


Please note that there is a better-formatted version of JPII's wonderful meditation on suffering than I gave above (eg. the endnotes are there and original italics are present) at this link:
http://www.ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2SALVI.HTM


I hope you don't mind, I mentioned you this evening to a group of excellent Catholic people I am involved with who are part of an endeavor called "The Personalist Project," so that they might pray for you (see the web site www.personalistproject.org). I am attending a course with them now on the philosophy of love.

And please I would like to offer another friendly suggestion (boy am I full of myself!): if there is a place somewhere near you where there is adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, please consider going some time. This can be a great opportunity to be still in God's peace and to pray. (Adoration would be at a Catholic parish where there is a special chapel or room where the Eucharist--what Catholics know to be the Body and Blood of Christ under the outward form of bread--is specially displayed for the sake of a blessed opportunity for prayer in the presence of God. In some places this may be known as "perpetual adoration"). Even if you don't at present have a belief in the Eucharist, as long as you are open to prayer, you may find praying in a Eucharistic adoration chapel a special time of grace to be with God and a great help in quieting your heart so as to make a spiritual space in which God may enter in more fully.

Ask Him to give you the questions that you most need to ask at this moment in your life!

Scott J said...

On a different note, do you like movies?

If so, (and you have time to watch one!) I would like to heartily recommend a great movie you have probably never heard of: Ushpizin For info see IMDB page at
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0426155/.

It's a wonderful film, filmed in Jerusalem, about life and faith (in this case, devout Jewish faith, which has many things in common with Catholicism). It's hard to describe, but it follows a husband and wife in their walk with God as they experience various challenges. It is wonderfully human and displays a life of faith in God (including praying to God in the midst of anger and sorrow) with an authenticity I haven't seen before in a film. It was made in Israel. It is available on Netflix. I love this film!

If you are curious, here is a review of it by a Catholic reviewer who also loved it:
http://tinyurl.com/bnyykq

Blessings

Damien said...

lol now I feel guilty... cause I do not have much to say at this point besides... I am starting to read the links you sent me.

as to the following

"if there is a place somewhere near you where there is adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, please consider going some time."

I am certain I need to do this... because... I have been thinking about doing this. Was not sure what it was called... but it had been sitting with me. That I just need to go, perhaps on the way home from work.

Interesting, that your most direct advice for me is something I have been contemplating.

I knew about the open... place to go and sit. I had no idea what it was called and I had not bothered to ask the wife.