Thoughts of a Catholic convert

My Photo
Location: United States

Saturday, September 21, 2013

"How can I be happy?"

Reading The Gift of Spiritual Intimacy: Following the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius by Jesuit Monty Williams.

A Hindu friend once told me that one of the major reasons people get interested in God is because they're suffering. I thought of that as I read this (pp. 42-3) ...

A spiritual journey often begins when we can find no substitute for what we have lost. The Buddha's journey to enlightenment began when he encountered old age, sickness, and death. These realities led Prince Siddhartha to abandon a life of luxury and comfort in order to come to terms with the issue of human suffering. Significantly, it was the illness that confined Ignatius to his sickbed that prompted his journey to a spiritual life. Two centuries before Ignatius, in 1204, a serious illness was the beginning of another saint's journey to becoming Francis of Assisi. Illness, pain, loss, poverty, lack of social success, and deprivations are things the secular world does not value. But their presence -- and they are present in each of our lives -- reveals to us that neither we nor the world is in control. This leads us to ask the simple question that starts every spiritual journey: Given this very human situation, how can I be happy?

Often we try what the world offers. For many, the pursuit of those things is distracting enough to keep us engaged for some time. But their achievement is no substitute for what we truly desire, because at the root of our being we *are* desire. Nothing less than the fullness of life can satisfy that desire. Even when good things happen to us, affirming our sense of self-entitlement, we need to accept them as gift rather than as privilege. The blindness of illusion lets us confuse the two. This illusion prompts the observation that "Those whom the gods wish to destroy they give gifts to." We tend to equate ourselves with those gifts, living as if we were our gifts. We lose our integrity as creatures radically dependent on others and on God. When bad things happen to us, we discover what beggars we truly are. We cry out for help. And whatever is given to us then is given as gift. Bad things force us to question ourselves -- who we are, what we can do, what we must do. Most of us react against such self-examination in the normal circumstances of our lives. Yet only when we do so do we discover the path to spiritual intimacy and move towards the fullness of life.


Post a Comment

<< Home