The great Carmelite practice of charity…… August 12, 2014Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, disconcerting, episcopate, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, Papa, sanctity, Tradition, Virtue.
Jesus has said “He that loveth father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me” (Matt X:27); hence, the precept of charity commands us to love God above all things. However, this precept can be interpreted in two ways. To love God more than any creature to the point of being ready to give up everything rather than offend God gravely is the first degree of charity. It is indispensable for all who desire to be friends of God and to possess His Grace, and therefore, it is required of all. But in a more profound sense, to love God above all things means to prefer Him to everything else, not only to what might be an occasion of mortal or venial sin, but even to all that does not fully correspond to His good pleasure. This is the degree of perfect charity toward which every soul aspiring to intimate friendship with God must tend. This degree requires absolute renouncement and absolute purity, that is, the total absence of every shadow of sin or attachment to creatures [now think about numbers 1,4,6, and 9 from yesterday’s list]. The exercise of perfect charity requires, therefore, a work of total purification, a work that is accomplished only by charity; “Charity causes emptiness in the will with respect to all things, since it obliges us to love God above them all.” (Saint Juan de la Cruz, Ascent of Mount Carmel, II, 6,4).
We should be convinced that here on earth the practice of charity is closely united with that of renouncement, each being proportionate to the other; the more perfect and intense is charity, the more total is the renunciation required; but this is so precisely that the soul may attain to loving God with all its strength: “The strength of the soul,” says the mystical doctor, “consists in its faculties, passions, and desires, all of which are governed by the will. Now when these faculties, passions, and desires are directed by the will toward God, and turned away from all that is not God, then the strength of the soul is kept for God, and thus the soul is able to love God with all its strength” (Saint Juan de la Cruz, Ascent of Mount Carmel, 16,2). This is the great function of renouncement in respect to charity: to free the powers of the soul so entirely that they can be wholly employed in loving and serving God alone. If we really want to love God with our whole heart, we must be very generous in renunciation and detachment. This in itself is an exercise of love because it disposes the soul for perfect charity.
I don’t want to dwell on this excessively. Jesuit and Carmelite spirituality have always been quite different. That is fine in and of itself, in Our Lord’s house, there are many rooms. But Jesuit spirituality went very much off the rails starting in the early 20th century and has never recovered. All religious orders are infected with modernism to one degree or another, and most all of them have drifted in varying degrees of severity from their founding charism, including the Carmelites. That has been a continual trend in the Church since there have been religious orders, there have been cycles of growth, decay, reform, renewal, decay, etc, for centuries. But I don’t know if there has ever been quite so sudden and total collapse as that which has afflicted the Jesuit order, literal bulwark of the Church for over 3 centuries, over the past 100 years.
Jesuit were always an order very much in the world, if certainly not of it. But I have to wonder the degree to which the highly disordered spirituality which is embraced by almost all Jesuits didn’t play a role in that “10 steps to happiness” or whatever it was. Such a list would be dismaying from a sandal wearing overripe hippie religious…….but from a pope! It seems very, very difficult to reconcile that list with the Carmelite, but also broadly Catholic, understanding of charity, how to advance in the interior life, drawing closer to God, etc, expressed above. It is almost as if speaking of two very different religions.
I’ll leave it at that for now. I’m probably in enough trouble as it is!