October 10, 2007

The Fire Of Dedication

To embrace this path [of spiritual growth] is to go from first fervor to true fervor, from sentimental, romantic love to self-giving love, from the fire of emotions to the fire of dedication, moving in a continuously upward spiral into the fullness of what we are meant to be. . . Our concern must be what we are responsible for: transforming our fervor, our behavior, our love. Throughout the spiritual journey we are required to let go of this preoccupation with “what we can get out of it.” To do this courageously is one of the principal efforts and effects of authentic and wholesome spiritual practice.

In The Spirit Of Happiness by the Monks of New Skete

For the basic question is: of what are we witnesses? What have we seen and touched with our hands? Of what have we partaken and been made communicants? Where do we call men? What can we offer them?

For The Life Of The World by Fr. Alexander Schmemann

In my reading this week these two passages gave me pause. What to do when the fire doesn't burn quite so bright? Are we what we say we are? Is my life a faithful witness? Why do I not fast and pray as I should? Why am I so stingy with money and affection?

I know the answers yet I do not act. I understand that after the thrill is gone (pardon the phrase) comes the day to day expression of faith through action or inaction, through the daily sloughing of self and seeking to conform to His will. Even when I don't feel like it. No, especially when I don't feel like it. I once asked one of my former pastors/friend how she could get up every Sunday and preach? There must be days when she just didn't feel like it. Her answer was, "Fake it until you make it." That seems harsh but I think her comment contains a nugget of truth. In the repetition of prayer, in the unfortunate rhythm of repentance, in the acting out of our faith we find wisdom and solace. In our day to day we find eternity.


Anonymous said...

Thank you.

I can but agree, from someone who is a most unfaithful witness. Lord, have mercy.

King of Peace said...

Discipline is rewarded and there is much to be gained in continuing to do tasks long after you feel like doing them. Then from time to time you may enjoy it again, but that won't be the point, not completely. This is not so different from cooking meals all the time. I enjoy to cook. I enjoy cooking most meals I make. But we need the nourishment of food more often than my wife or I feel like cooking.

One aside, I think For the Life of the World is probably the nest spiritual book of its size by anyone. It is a thoughtful and thought-provoking take on Christianity.