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"Living Jesus" Chat Room
Saint Francis de Sales makes a fine distinction between indifference and resignation as it pertains to following God’s will. What do these terms mean?
In our modern use of the word, indifference is often seen as a negative thing. How can following God’s will seen as something positive? Saint Francis has talked about certain ways of living the spiritual life that are not meant for everyone (such as a vowed life of living the evangelical counsels). Do you suppose this practice of indifference falls into the same category?
In his book, Introduction to the Devout Life, Saint Francis talks a lot about these very extreme ascetical ways of living that seem almost superhuman and even impossible. How can one avoid feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of pursuing these heroic avenues of holiness? Do you suppose this practice of indifference falls into the same category?
Discover in this chat discussion the nuances of these two categories and how we can follow God’s will more faithfully.
Visitation Sister: I think indifference is a spiritual quality many of us need to strive for but don’t start out having it in the beginning.
Cindy: Is indifference the same thing as detachment?
Visitation Sister: That’s a great question - there is a relationship certainly but it’s not exactly the same.
Visitation Sister: Pretty close - some might define it as the same.
Ronnie: How are they different?
Visitation Sister: I am trying to think this through myself!!
Ronnie: … maybe detachment is a necessary part of indifference, but indifference implies true trust and joyful surrender to God’s Will?
Visitation Sister: Both would demand that we are for God’s Will above all things.
Ronnie: Joyful acceptance of God’s Will.
Cindy: I think most people find indifference to be negative because it implies we do not care. With detachment we care, but we leave the determination to God.
Visitation Sister: For the moment, let’s keep indifference and detachment on the same plane and see where resignation fits in.
Visitation Sister: Cindy, good distinction!!
Visitation Sister: Resignation is a good first step because we are not rebelling but yet it does not imply a heart filled with self-giving love to the full.
Dana: Hello everyone! full house tonight, wonderful. God Bless you and this chat tonight.
Cindy: Like submission vs. surrender?
Rebecca: I just remembered a funny story my father told me about indifference, at least the way he and his father understood it. It seems that his father would often go to a movie on Saturday evenings, and he’d ask his son, “Would you like to come along?” My Dad, at the time a young child, would respond something like:
Rebecca: “I don’t care.” His father would then say, “Get your coat” and take him along. One day when the little boy’s response was the same as usual his father just replied “Fine. I’ll see you later. Bye.”
Rebecca: After that he learned to express his preferences and not just act AS IF he was indifferent.
Anna: With resignation being the first step, how does a person move from resignation to indifference?
Dana: Hi Rebecca, a good example of if we simply try on our own to be or act indifferent.
Visitation Sister: With much prayer, Anna. It is not an easy journey to that disposition I do not think.
Cindy: I imagine discerning which of our plans and desires comes from God plays a huge role as well.
Dana: Thank you Rebecca.
Visitation Sister: A key means to attaining Holy Indifference is a constant and dynamic prayer life, which leads to a total confidence in God, which is translated and manifested in a total willingness to give one’s whole self to God as a sacrifice, offering and oblation.
Visitation Sister: Of course Jesus is our Way, Truth and Life and best example. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus battled with this Holy Indifference in His human nature and conquered with these words of total and absolute Holy Indifference — conformity to the will of the Heavenly Father: “Father if it is possible, remove this chalice from me; however, not my will but yours be done.”
Rebecca: And Cindy — of all the challenges in your area in southern California. Glad the mud slides were not quite as bad this time, but the people who lost their homes and even more, their relatives will keep on needing healing for a long time to come.
Visitation Sister: Our Lady’s “Fiat” (total and willing consent to God) motivate all of us to strive to understand, pray over and embrace “Holy Indifference” in our lives. “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your will.” (Lk. 1: 38)
James: Thanks, Rebecca!!! We had many new volunteers come to meeting yesterday. First Formation Meeting for June Kairos. Mini-retreat next Fri-Sat in Prison. Talks will be on Love. I will be doing talk on Love does not envy!
Visitation Sister: Is indifference for everyone?
Anna: I think indifference is meant for everyone, but not everyone will achieve it, much like St. John of the Cross speaks of infused prayer and high contemplation is meant for everyone but few achieve it.
Dana: Holy indifference can be something to strive for, remembering God calls each of us along our own paths.
Cindy: We should all be learning to surrender our will to His, because not all of our desires are good for us and we cannot always foresee consequences.
Rebecca: I wish there were words in the English language that say more clearly what SFdS means — or that I were more fluent in French. When I took Formation for Ministry 12 years ago, there was a woman in our class whose first language was French. She had The Catechism of the Catholic Church in French, and would sometimes point out how much clearer the French was.
Visitation Sister: Trying not to be overwhelmed as we strive for holiness takes a calm heart.
Dana: And perhaps trust, that God always knows where we are.
James: In the sermon this morning it was mentioned that those who anger us or really get under our skin are used by God to be our Sanctifiers. God helps us to grow through these relationships that can be most difficult. Our assignment to be perhaps able to gradually grow a relationship through a level of indifference and true love for our enemy!
Rebecca: How can we be co-creators with God if we don’t use our own sense — informed by Faith, the teachings of the Catholic Church, prayer and REASON, observation, science, etc. — as to what we should be working on.
James: Make a Friend, be a Friend, introduce that Friend to Christ!!!
Dana: Today I was thanking those who help to sanctify me, perhaps they are unaware they are doing so.
James: So much condemnation these days in the Church! We must Love God and everyone! No option!
James: So Special Dana to remember those who have been there for us !!!
Ronnie: James, I really like the connection you draw between indifference and growing in relationship with others - thank you for that.
Rebecca: James, how I wish I were better at re-introducing my friend Miriam to Christ. She went all through Catholic Schools, and now is a devoted Orthodox Jew — and somehow there seems to be a high wall around that one important topic.
Cindy: I always seem to be looking at inner transformation as a solo job. I wonder if that too is done in interrelationships.
James: Your Friendship Rebecca is So important !!! She sees Christ in You !!! She knows you belong to Him !!!
Visitation Sister: In community it happens for sure, Cindy.
Ronnie: Cindy - The times I have actually experienced the most significant inner transformation definitely seem to be the times when I was more focused on others than on myself… as though I got “out of the way” so the Holy Spirit could work on the deepest parts of me….
James: Community is so important in our Sanctification and in order to live in community we must have a level of indifference in order to grow in relationships. People from so many backgrounds. St Paul really loved so many in so many very different communities. Once he knew them then he was able to call them out on crazy things they were doing !!!
Cindy: Yes–we are always trying to get out of His way, but if we are looking inward, watching Him, how do we serve Him?
James: Always being available to God to serve! Yes be yes, and no be no! Allowing God to show us the Way !!!
Rebecca: I think it is Cindy. I was just going to ask all of you to pray that I have both a better understanding and a better LIVING of this indifference, resignation.
James: Envy can be a Huge Obstacle to Serving God !!!
Rebecca: Hi Candace. Looks like Jill had to go.
Visitation Sister: Yes.
Ronnie: Be assured of our prayers, Rebecca - Let’s pray for each other daily!
Visitation Sister: Always focusing on the fact that God knows what’s BEST for us helps.
James: Amen, Sister!!!
Cindy: Yes, because this new discovery is going to be hard to implement.
Dana: Last night on Dr. Ray, EWTN, his guest was Jessie Romero. Strong Catholic evangelist, a former police officer, and he told an amazing story of working with prisoners. I think his program would be on EWTN multimedia to watch. I thought of you, James.
Dana: In my prayers Rebecca! and for all in our group.
Rebecca: Somehow I am stuck on the PASSIVITY that it seems to me to be ENTAILED in the YES to God expressed by the words and even some of the examples of “Holy Indifference.”
Ronnie: James - it seems like envy is the ultimate outcome of a LACK of indifference… if we truly acquiesce to and fully accept God’s Will in our lives, then envy can’t exist… so love will grow.
James: Thanks, Dana I will have to look for that interview. Recent sermon during daily Mass on EWTN the priest described one of men who works at EWTN has volunteered with Kairos for years and described transformation he has seen with many of the men in prison!
Visitation Sister: Do you see passivity as totally negative Rebecca?
Dana: I’m thinking of the wedding at Cana, how Mary appeared to have some indifference, and then instructed the others… do whatever he tells you
James: Soo True, Ronnie!!!
Cindy: That’s interesting Rebecca, because those who are most fully surrendered and indifferent are not the least bit passive. We have a life of paradoxes.
Dana: I will look for it.
Visitation Sister: There are times of passivity that are really receptivity which is not truly passive.
Rebecca: I see JESUS in that story as the one basically saying “Not me; not now, not yet.” It is only when His mom, more concerned about the wedding couple being embarrassed by running out of wine than Jesus was, that Jesus recognizes that it is time to ACT.
Anna: Is docility linked to indifference?
Rebecca: That, I can appreciate, Sister. We — like HE — NEED times to pray, reflect, discern. Otherwise “business” can be a real waste of time as far as building up the Kingdom of God is concerned.
Visitation Sister: Docility allows for receptivity.
Anna: Ah! Thank you Sister.
James: When the men in prison put aside their own agenda and accept an invitation from another inmate usually or Chaplain to participate in Kairos. They have opened the Door to God in the slightest way !!! And God Blasts them with His Love Through a Loving Community - the Kairos Community !!!
Visitation Sister: Here is a preview of the book, A Lenten Journey with Jesus Christ and St. Francis de Sales.
Visitation Sister: Many blessings to each of you!!
Anna: Thank you for the link!
Dana: Thank you Sister!
Rebecca: Thanks for the link, Sister. I see that a good “sample” of the book can be read online.
Cindy: We will be praying for Kairos too.
Candace: God Bless, have a good week, Everyone!
Cindy: May God bless us everyone.
Rebecca: God bless each of you. I thank and praise him that we can get some help from one another on this journey.
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(Kevin J. Banet is a publicist at Vocation Promotion for the Second Federation of the Visitation Sisters.)