Monday, February 07, 2005

Today's Map "includes" (6Feb)

They say it is all about the journey and what we learn and who we meet along the way. It is no different for me. This evening I was talking to my friend Barbara and she asked me about my journey. She offered this thought after i gave her my answer. She said that along the way the road changes and at times we get to climb a hill that affords us a view of the road behind us. At this point she said to me, these are the moments where we can look back and see just how far we have traveled. I looked back and saw, that I have walked a long way. But still have a ways to go as well.

I had talked about going to lunch with Donald a few weeks ago. And he said this to me and I remember it now, he said that I would work out my demons in this assignment. That the way I chose to address Jerome would teach me something. Well, it did.

Here is my answer to Jerome's words. Note the voice I am speaking with and the position of authority I took to get my point across, in the hopes for some spiritual awakening in my pupil. From my persepective, it was the easiest route to take. I had no idea that when I finished writing it that it would have affected me the way it did.

Dear Jerome,

As Your Spiritual Advisor I am led to believe as a man of faith, that I must remove all of the obstacles that lie between me and the attainment of God’s heavenly grace. I am also led to believe that the attainment of grace will only come when I am “right” with God, and when I have purged the “sinful” attributes from my life.

In reading your critique of women, I am puzzled by your position. The first question that comes to mind is this. What is it that you want from your community of faithful? Ministry calls us to renounce the “trappings” of the world, to renounce the sexual urges and desires of the flesh. Ministry calls us to be beacons of light to the community to which we serve and the community in which we live. And I believe if I can state it in one sentence, we are to live and walk humbly in the light of our God.

I was given a text of your writing and in that text you write “The love of a woman is accursed; it is always insatiable…It makes a manly soul effeminate and allows him to think of nothing but his obsession…Woman is classed among the greatest of evils.”

It is my observation and has been my experience that if you give a name to a problem that preoccupies you, you can make one of two choices. One, you can either work to end the problem and find a solution to that problem, or two, you can continually dwell on that problem and thereby give it unnecessary power over you.

It seems to me that you cannot put the problem of “women” and their accursed insatiability behind you.

From my perspective, it seems that you are walking a fine line between God’s grace and the insanity of the flesh. In one hand you have God asking you to be faithful to your ministry and to keep focused on his work. And in the other hand, you carry the sin and preoccupation of women that keep you from your work at hand, that of building and maintaining your community where you can be useful. I fear that your focus on the sins of the world keep you from the attainment of the Glory of God.

If I was to share with you one single piece of wisdom I have learned in my lifetime it is this: “A man who embraces both his feminine and masculine sides, becomes a well rounded person.” This “rounded” person has attained the grace and wisdom to minister to all peoples and not just some. I feel that if you understood this thought, it might help you become a better minister to the faithful and I believe this is the key to your finally dealing with this sinful preoccupation that I fear will one day, take your soul. As I see it Jerome, ascetic women have a mystical and godly power about them. This realization could help you in your personal life as well your ministry to the community. I encourage you to explore that power. Every person is born with opposing powers, the light and the dark, the masculine and the feminine, good and evil. It is how we approach and deal with these opposing forces that make us who we are Jerome.

In your text that I have read, you say that the love of a woman makes a manly soul effeminate. So be it. If that is something you fear would you not try to understand what that fear of the effeminate is? Or are you so paralyzed by your fear of the unknown that you cannot even look at it. Fear and pain are great motivators for change. I think the truth stands that “fear” has permeated every fibre of your being and clouded your judgement. And I pray that you are able to see this, before it overcomes you totally.

I think you believe that if you embrace the feminine attributes that they will cloud your ability to be a spiritual man and thereby diminishing your respect and trust amongst your peers. And I counter with this, as one of the most learned men of the west; I wonder why this would worry you. Your reputation precedes you as a scholar.

Only you can focus your vision on a single point of light. And it seems your vision is blinded by too much darkness, this darkness is blinding you from seeing that true single point of light of God before you. This I fear could be your own undoing.

As for obsession, this problem seems to be based on your perception. Life is all about perception. If you, Jerome, have false perceptions, then how can you do the true work that is before you? What you perceive to be a problematic obsession that of the insatiable love of a woman, can in a moment be turned into strength for your ministry to the faithful?

What you fear about the “women” you speak of, could, in the end be your greatest asset.

If you close your heart and mind to changing your perceptions, then spiritual growth is unattainable. This issue is not about “THEM” and what you perceive, but YOU and what you do not perceive. This is about you Jerome.

Truly knowing what the greatest of evils are, and there are many, can give you power to overcome them. I believe as a minister of the faith and you as a Doctor of the church you should not be passing such damning judgements on Gods creations. Have you forgotten Jerome, that we are not God? Maybe I should remind you of that truth.

You must begin to understand why you react the way you do to this kind of temptation.

The greatest evil I see for you is not the woman who distracts you, but the “obsession” that preoccupies you.

If this preoccupation is not brought to an end, it will be your undoing Jerome. If your dilemma lies in the obsession of women, then turning your face from temptation and sin is your first necessary action. My dear Jerome, your insane preoccupation with the flesh and women trouble me as your spiritual advisor. If you think of nothing but the love of a woman, then I must guide you to pray that this obsession leaves you before it permanently renders you powerless in your ministry to God and to your church.

I do believe your judgement and critical eye for the female person has clouded your ability to effectively see the divine plan that has presented itself to you. “To question”

Is the cornerstone of faith! That question is the energy we need to pursue our faith.

I have been told that to be critical about some things is good. It keeps us focused on God and his grace. If we are not critical, our gaze upon the church will be clouded with romanticism and hagiographic zeal.

I understand your critical take on renunciation and prayer. I do think that you have been “too critical” for my sensible palate. Critique without the temperance of prayer and reflection can be harmful to you as a man in this world. You have befriended some women in your social circle, ascetics I am told. You seem to desire their counsel, support and company. This was an admission by your lips. Do you believe that the sweeping generalization you make of all women, include those to whom you seem to be attracted to?

I do question your motives as to why you seem to need to be close to them, when your ministry asks you to renounce the relationship with “one” in opt for a “community of many.” As a young seminarian, I too had problems with “community” and I desired to be “alone with my God.” But I encourage you to explore your community and not remain separated from it by your “preoccupations.” Asceticism is good for both men and women, for it brings us into closer communion with the mystical being of Christ and the mystical body of the church. Are your motives clear here Jerome? Or do they need to be reassessed.

As was reported to me from others, your passionate pleas to people to renounce them selves, that in their sexuality and their “attachment to things” that tie them to the earth and community are admirable. My question to you is this, does that not go for you as well. I find it troubling that you preach one message and you live another! That does not follow in the ways of Christ that I have tried to instil in you as a man and a religious scholar.

In closing, my faithful servant of God, I encourage you to explore that which you fear in prayer. I ask you to try and identify that which you cannot make peace with. I look forward to meeting with you to discuss your progress. And I pray that your “overly critical” obsession and judgement of women and their accursedness is abated by a daily ritual of prayer, self mortification and penance.

Listen well to my counsel Jerome, and see if your critical gaze does not soften over time. Change is good my son. I will tell you that “to step out of your comfort zone will tell you exactly where you are on your spiritual journey.”

I am aware that your reputation stands on the words you speak. I offer that you should consider first your words and how they will effect your life and your community as well your scholarly reputation here in Rome. I must ask you to curtail your openly verbal judgements about the Roman Clergy around you. Everyone lives according to their own mandates from God. And you must learn to live and let live, my son. You may not like everyone you come in contact with and I encourage you to explore the differences in others. That difference you see might be the grace you need to continue your journey of faith. Everyone is filled with the divine light and love of God. And it is when you realize that divinity in others, that divinity will have already manifested itself in you. We are all branches of the one “True Vine” my son. Do not prune yourself too sharply or you may not grow as God sees fit. And one final though, one cannot attain the kingdom of God by doing good things with a motive behind them.

Peace be upon you my son.


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