Saturday, January 09, 2016

Why do we feel close to God and then feel like it's all gone?

In our lives our days are full of experiences at one level and on another level there is what we think and feel about those experiences and about ourselves within those experiences and what is left after we leave those experiences behind. 

Whatever we live, think, feel, do, say or experience... our true motives are often concealed from our own conscience when we are flooded with emotions. Simple example, when I care for a family member or neighbor and receive back from them love and gratitude, perhaps even remuneration, then it is more difficult to know how pure my motivation is. 

I may truly be doing it out of selfless and perfect love, but even then, my earthly reward at the very least clouds or shadows my perfect love. I would then need to be accepting the rewards simply out of consideration for the other, glad to provide the other with an opportunity to experience and to show gratitude. However, when to do or say a thing motivated out of love for others is difficult to do, tiring, stressful, or painful, and I still do it and persevere over time in doing it, those difficulties and absence of pleasure purify my motives and clarify my heart, mind, and soul, and the Holy Trinity can more easily bring me into sync with them, into perfect love and communion. 

It is for this reason that various saints came to know this and to value times of pain and suffering and actually went out of their way to embrace such difficulties in the exercise of loving service of those most in need of experiencing the selfless love of another in order to come to really believe in the love of God for them. 

I believe what our Church teaches as Jesus did that God in Jesus is a Good Shepherd who knows his sheep and gently leads us in the way we most need to be led and cared for. We do well to grow in trust of Him regardless of what may be happening in our thoughts and feelings, which tell us something about what is going on but they cannot tell us everything. We can perceive much more in our soul deep down beneath the sensations of our flesh and where the Holy Trinity dwells with us and infuses us with their divine life. This is how St Paul came to say "It is no longer I who live, but Jesus who lives in me."

Our life in the "flesh" - what the Sacred Scriptures understand as our human life with all its facets as mortal and weakened by the original sin - serves as a wonderful image or icon of our spirit or soul, our life as immortal that will live on after the death of our mortal flesh and will then await the resurrection of the dead and entry into eternal life. 
 
From this point of view we can understand how it is that in the course of our life journey we go through stages, just as we do in the flesh. We began in the womb, were born through birth pains into this world through this great act of love of our parents - especially our mom - then were coddled at the breast, wanted to go down on the floor where we crawled around exploring, then got up and walked like everyone else, got into everything, began to learn not to touch certain things which hurt us, learned how to go potty and how "we do things in this family", how to use our hands, tell colors and count and read and write, make friends and learn how to deal with aggressive angry kids, went out of home for the first time on our own to go to school, how to follow discipline, how to learn in a group and on our own, how to study and do homework, and we progressed rapidly through many stages, got to become very skillful at play and many things, then came crashing down to some degree through the upheavals of puberty, with or without skillful or kind or wise guidance from our elders, and somehow found our way, and on and on through all the stages and seasons of life we have the great privilege of experiencing and receiving as a gift from our Creator.... 
 
Through all these and all the other stages and landscapes of our lives God was there, hovering over us like a loving parent, at times touching, cajoling, disciplining, but mostly leaving us free to go about our lives. As we may have gotten attached to our parents and their comfort, so too we can get attached to God and his consolations or certain forms of his consolations. 
 
We can only grow in love as we accept to put aside these desires of ours in order to give all our attention to the other, to the beloved, in order to grow in selfless love, in complete and undivided attention and devotion to the other. We can only do this by free choice renewed countless times each day and day after day... and we do well to grow in trust and eager obedience of the three wonderful Persons of the Holy Trinity, who have planned for all of us to enjoy their company and the company of each other for all eternity, which is no trifling thing....