Friday, August 24, 2012

Living the Spiritual Life

The world is a noisy place, says a columnist of the Catholic Times in his column on spirituality. By simply hearing the news or watching TV, we can readily come to appreciate how much noise surrounds us every day of our lives. It's not the kind of noise we can distance ourselves from easily and examine as a spectator might, he says. It's always there, hovering around us. Some of this noise is obviously 'out there,' but the noise coming from inside us, he maintains, is even more troubling.

In fact, we have a tendency to fear quiet, welcoming the noise, which explains to some extent why we like  celebrities and sports stars, following what they say and do with enthusiasm. Among the causes for the inner noise, he includes the desire for money and honor, and beckoning city streets that entice the strollers with their culture of pleasure. Much of what we see and hear is intended to titillate the senses, making it difficult for many of us to pass it by.

However, when the time is right, all that disturbs our inner peace can disappear, the columnist tells us. Often we do not allow ourselves to resonate with God's will. In an instant, moved by faith, we can be pushed into the cloud of unknowing. No matter how complicated life becomes, it can still resonate with God's will.

When we are overcome with the noise, however, and feel trapped, not knowing what to do or where to go, the situation may be similar to putting on a garment and, when not paying attention, placing the first button in the wrong button hole. When overcome with the noise, and its disabling distractions, it may be because we are not attending to the reservoir of hope and faith that is available to us. From birth on, being alert is the way we grow into mature adulthood.  We have to turn this tendency to become as fully conscious as possible in the direction of God. To loosen up somewhat is all that is necessary. When we are uptight, the danger of suffering a breakdown is always a possibility. Not setting our sights on the results of victory or failure, but directing our awareness to God is the path we want to take.

It's a path that requires faith and hope, mellowness and firmness. For a Catholic understanding of spirituality, the words that come to mind--vulnerability, openness, becoming clay in God's hands--allow us to be moved by his love for us. The initiative belongs to God. We simply rest in a humble receptivity of his gift. 

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