obstacles, virtue overcomes obstacles

Obstacles and Stepping Stones

“Sometimes, the very activity which one self has rejected as an impediment becomes for another the channel of spiritual perception. I have mentioned the Cure D’Ars, who, among other inhibitions, refused to allow himself to smell a rose. Yet St. Francis preached to the flowers and ordered a plot to be set aside for their cultivation when the convent garden was made, ‘in order that all who saw them might remember the Eternal Sweetness.’ So, too, we are told, of his spiritual daughter, St. Douceline, that ‘out of doors one day with her sisters, she heard a bird’s note. What a lovely song!’ she said:and the song drew her straight way to God. … ‘To look on trees, water, and flowers,’ says St. Teresa of her own beginnings of contemplation, ‘helped her to recollect the presence of God’.” ~Evelyn Underhill

Steps or Obstacles

Ms. Underhill makes a good point. We are not all the same. What functions as an obstacle for one may be a stepping stone to awakening for another. He difference is in how you react to the thing. While St. Francis and Sat. Teresa could enjoy the beauty and sweet scent of flowers without becoming attached, Cure D’Ars felt he could not. And he may have been correct. We don’t all get attached to the same things. I’m sure if St. Francis found himself getting too attached to the flowers in his garden, he would have rejected them as well.

The point is, with a few exceptions, we can’t assume that the same thing is always an obstacle to spiritual growth, while another is an aid. We know, for example, that crystals can aid in spiritual growth. But some people can become so obsessed with collecting them, and locating rare ones, that they become an attachment and a hindrance. Continue reading “Obstacles and Stepping Stones”

helpful temptations

Helpful Temptations and Obstacles

“To men that are just and upright, temptations become helps. Job, a man of discernment, was victorious in temptations. Sickness came upon him, and he complained not; … his body failed and his strength departed, but his will was not weakened. … So Joseph from the house of bondage was made to rule as king of Egypt. They of the company of Ananias and Daniel delivered others from bondage.

“See then, O thou are wise, the power that freedom possesses; that noting can injure it unless the will is weakened. … Seek thou not here repose, for this is a world of toil. And if thou canst wisely discern, change thou not time for time that which abides for that which abides not; that which ceases not for that which ceases; nor truth for lying. … Collect thy mind, let it not wander among varieties which profit not.” ~St. Ephraim the Syrian

Helpful Temptations

An excellent runner who is used to running on a clear track will not do well if suddenly put into a hurdle race. Likewise, one who has always ran on flat ground, will get winded quickly running up a mountain. Even worse, the guy who sits on the sidelines watching the runners will not become a good runner at all. For that reason, some people need a wolf to chase them so they will start to run. Some need hurdles and mountains to climb to really build strength in their legs.

We usually think of temptations as something that seems to be good, but often isn’t. The ice cream that gets us off of our healthy diet. The movie of TV that gets us to skip our workout to watch it. But temptations can also be unpleasant things. An illness that makes us stay in bed, even when bed rest isn’t the best solution. A minor injury that gives us an excuse to quite exercising. Most of all, physical problems that cause us to skip our spiritual exercises. But resisting such temptations make us grow strong. That’s why they are helpful temptations.

Power of Freedom

The Power of Freedom has many aspects. The one of concern here is the freedom to choose what is right rather than what is easy. Sometimes, that choice can be painful. It may take us away from things we would rather be doing. But we have the freedom to ignore our own thoughts, or the dark ones whispering in our ears, when we know they are leading us astray. Continue reading “Helpful Temptations and Obstacles”