My purpose in these posts is to bring a variety of Christian and other writers in a desire to share significant writings that in my estimation contribute to the common good and directly or indirectly give glory to God and extend the Lord's work of salvation to all of humanity. G.S.
Spiritual insight into God, or our own life, or the universe and God's creation, or into life itself is a gift from God... thanks be to God who is so great and yet so close to us and so kind and considerate as to care for each of us, though we are so many....
Life is awesome and it's normal for human beings to at times feel overwhelmed, especially when we are young because there is so much we have yet to discover and begin to understand, but even in middle age or old age, as the "scenery" of our life changes, we can feel disoriented and lost with the impression we may have to start all over again. This can appear as though we might be "losing our faith" but often it is simply that a more naive form of faith needs to "die" in order to make room for a more mature and robust faith that takes into account the complex realities of life and the many levels of our own inner complexity and human frailty....
I rejoice with all believers and fellow pilgrims and thank God for the way in which He let us know that He is there and loves us. The "withdrawal pains" or troubling doubts we may feel after having "religious experiences" or moments of "grace" when we felt "close to God" or as if all was "right with the world" or that "we were in the right place or exactly where we were meant to be"... all such experiences help us understand why God does not generally "show Himself" to us yet... we are not ready to experience the great intensity of his dynamic presence and love... so we have the gift of time and life on Earth as a time of preparation, and all of life - both the good and the bad - are used by God to help us grow, be stretched, deepen, and widen our spirit and bring our flesh to serve our spirit and of course God and our neighbor. Pope Francis talks much about all these things.
We have to be careful about what we see and hear on TV these days... there are so many programs and episodes that present themselves as scientific research and discovery when in fact they employ a "little science" in order to camouflage flagrant theories which fail to take into account overwhelming quantities of evidence that quite frankly shows their theories are unfounded.
Take for example St Paul. I have seen TV episodes claiming that St Paul exerted undue influence on the early Church and in effect started a new religion that was not and is not in accord with Jesus' intentions. This is the voice of those who set themselves up as critics and naysayers against the Roman Catholic Church and Tradition. There is nothing further from the truth. It is clear from the Acts of the Apostles that Jesus knew exactly what He was doing when He chose Saul and through the grace of conversion made him into Paul.
It does seem as though Paul exercised an overly predominant influence on the early Church and could seem "over represented" in the New Testament... take Paul away and you only have the Gospels, Acts, the other pastoral letters, and Revelation left. It is true that Paul formulated much of the theology that has allowed the Church to deepen her understanding of much of what Jesus said and did.
That is the whole point though, that Paul invented nothing but only reflected deeply on what Jesus said, did, was, and is, and Jesus used then and uses now Paul to bring us closer to Himself. No, the thought that Paul started his own religion is quite wrong, and you are wise to recognize this as a doubt, even a temptation.
Remember dear Reader when you consider your own doubts or confusion on these matters how Satan treated Jesus. First he tried to seduce his human instincts with appeals to our human appetites and wants. When that failed he left Him alone until a later time, which was in the Garden of Gethsemane, at which time he unleashed all the fury he could muster through the instruments of the authorities and soldiers and even bystanders, who all mocked Him....
We cannot expect better treatment from demons than Jesus got. First they appeal to our human weaknesses and passions. When that fails they try the use of power, either supernatural power or material power through natural disturbances or through people. The "storms" we experience in life and in our spirit are not likely the effect of God or his angels but rather the rebellious angels or demons. Why do I think this?
You have only to read the Book of Job to see how God has shown us the true nature of his love and the true nature of Satan and his followers. They are out to "get us" but God takes our part. The Word of God tells us that God never tempts us nor intimidates us nor accuses us. In Revelation 12:10 God makes it clear through John's words that those who accuse the children of God and denounce them before God are Satan and his demon rebellious angels.
God in his kindness, mercy, and respect for the freedom of his intelligent creatures continues to allow even the demons certain freedom, as we can see in the Book of Job, but He imposes limits on what they can do, and all of this just becomes part of God's plan to allow his children the opportunity to have the joy and satisfaction of sharing in Jesus' victory by choosing to resist and fight as Jesus did.
The battle line runs right down the middle of the human heart, which God says in Jeremiah 17:1 is very tortuous and convoluted... we cannot trust our own heart and must certainly not follow it. However, our heart is an important part of us and so we need to pay attention to it, to notice its movements and moods, and learn what our heart is telling us at any given moment about what is happening within us and outside us and in others and how we are reacting to that. Being aware of all these things helps us to understand the situation and to judge what to do in light of God's Word and will.
We need to verify our understanding against God's Word and guide our judgment and actions and words in accord with God's holy will, which means guiding our heart, not following it. We can see, often in retrospect looking back, how God has guided and protected us from following our heart... Even in the face of terrible dark times and awful temptations to go so far as to take our own life, we have not taken our life but are accepting to struggle through it all, to live as fully as we can, by God's grace and in accord with his love and will.
This is the human life of faith in God through Jesus about which St Paul spoke and wrote so eloquently and profoundly precisely because he accepted to live life fully, to follow Jesus with all his might, and to desire one thing alone, to allow Jesus to live in him and "reproduce" his life within Paul.
It is the greatest grace of God that He offers to do the same in each of us.... Peace to you dear Reader and to your family, colleagues, friends, enemies, and loved ones....
© 2004-2021 All rights reserved Fr. Gilles Surprenant, Associate Priest of Madonna House Apostolate & Poustinik, Montreal QC
© 2004-2021 Tous droits réservés Abbé Gilles Surprenant, Prêtre Associé de Madonna House Apostolate & Poustinik, Montréal QC
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