In a recent "Living Jesus Chat," sponsored by the Visitation Sisters, we raise the below questions:
Saint Francis de Sales talks a lot about divesting ourselves of affections, and yet here he encourages us to have them.
How do we strike the balance here? How do we desire not to have them and yet at the same time try to have them? This reflection brings to mind the expression “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” How might these affections add something fresh to our spiritual life? Saint Francis has been very intense with his descriptions of how to live the spiritual life. Is he softening up in this reflection? Or is there a deeper point is he trying to make?
Is there a comparison here to giving things up for Lent, and then returning to them with a fresh attitude? Or with a soldier being trained with harshness and difficulties, to better prepare him for the battle?
Rebecca: The remark/question seems to refer to what we discussed last week. I didn’t check the archive, but I see that Psalm 22 is the one that starts with the words quoted as Jesus expressed on the cross. And I think that somewhere I read that reciting the first lines of a Psalm was considered like reciting the whole Psalm. In any case, perhaps Jesus WANTED to pray the whole Psalm but just did not have enough breath left to do so. The psalm seems to fit so accurately what Jesus was experiencing.
Visitation Sister: The depths of spiritual abandonment - these are states - mystical ones that saints also experience.
Visitation Sister: Jesus experienced all that we experience but sin - or rather He did not commit sin, but He was “made sin” in other words I think He felt what sin is like - all so mysterious.
Visitation Sister: Regarding question 1: I think we are not to be attached to affections but certainly we will feel them.
Kate: Giving up an attachment for Lent and finding later it isn’t worth going back to. That attachment was an unnecessary vice that hurt my devotion to God.
Visitation Sister: Good example.
Visitation Sister: A fervent pray-er usually would have affections- otherwise one might have the other possible experience of a “dry” prayer- still prayer though!
Visitation Sister: Purify our affections. That’s what this month [June] of the Sacred heart can help us to do.
Ben: Sometimes our affections for even trivial things can lead to building relationships with others that can lead to gently guiding them toward Jesus!!!
Kate: That is so true, Ben!
Rebecca: St. Francis recognizes that affections can be good. Imagine a mother not having affection for her child? Or a husband and wife who ONLY experience their relationship as duty. God wants us to rejoice in his creation.
Visitation Sister: I think of St Jane de Chantal who was such a passionate woman - especially when young - as years went on, she was able to be more accepting of the events in her life that were difficult - but always was a strong woman.
Visitation Sister: St Francis de Sales had a milder temperament.
Rebecca: Good observation, Ben. An example: I’m not much into professional sports, but when I was with other people for whom it was important, I watched very attentively, and enjoyed it because they enjoyed it.
Ben: Yes, Rebecca, I think it’s important to celebrate the interests of others!!! It also provides the opportunity for deeper sharing in God’s timing and can provide needed healing for so many!!!
Visitation Sister: Interest is healthy but if we put that ahead of our dedication to God (such as sports on Sun mornings rather than Mass) then it becomes unhealthy spiritually.
Denise: Noted…about St Jane.
Visitation Sister: Salesian spirituality combines both saints’ insights.
Visitation Sister:The Treatise, which we have been chatting about for this long time was written by St Francis BUT through his observations of the Visitandines, in many cases, and probably St Jane in particular.
Ben: Soo True Sister!!! Great opportunity to bring God unto these events in many different ways. So many ministries that reach out to athletes and even fans!!!
Rebecca: St. Francis speaks of even prayer practices and the seeking of virtues as something God may strip us of. The key, it seems to me, is in the response — so Marian — Be it done to me as God wills — Blessed be the name of the Lord.
Denise: Why perhaps would God strip us of these?
Lydia: Maybe to teach humility.
Ben: It’s so encouraging to see Priests, Sisters, and Christians at big events in the Community! So many hurting people who need to know God!!!
Visitation Sister: And to seek God alone?
Ben: Jesus is the only Way!!! He taught not to shy away from anyone!!! What a joy to bring Christ’s Love to others in every situation of Life!!!
Visitation Sister: Next question: Is there a comparison here to giving things up for Lent, and then returning to them with a fresh attitude? Or with a soldier being trained with harshness and difficulties, to better prepare him for the battle?
Kate: That is the question I answered above. For me, was to be better prepared for battle.
Visitation Sister: Ah, yes!
Ben: I think the training that God provides us helps us to shatter our self-focus and begin to understand the true suffering and bondage. So many are living with around us every day!!!
Visitation Sister: From St Francis: If we have once put off our old affection to spiritual consolations, to exercises of devotion, to the practice of virtues, yea to our own advancement in perfection, we must put on another affection quite new, by loving all these graces and heavenly favors, not because they perfect and adorn our spirit, but because our Savior’s name is sanctified in them, his kingdom advanced, his good-pleasure glorified.
Denise: This is a much deeper thought.
Visitation Sister: All for the Glory of God!
Rebecca: And, we might remind ourselves, that God does not NEED any of this for HIS SAKE, He does not even WANT our affection; it is simply the right order of things, it is out of His Love for the Creatures he created, that WE NEED to obey and glorify Him in all we do and say.
Visitation Sister: That is not only our Brooklyn foundation’s motto but also that of the Jesuits, I think.
Lydia: HE DOES WANT OUR AFFECTION.
Lydia: Our love for Him consoles Him for the sins of mankind.
Lydia: God has real feelings.
Rebecca: WANT in the sense of lack. He WANTS/NEEDS nothing, because He is sufficient unto Himself.
Lydia: Once He made us, He loved us and loved us even before He made us and planned for us and wants everything good for us.
Denise: Thinking of Mary and Martha…. what he says that she chose the better part, to sit with him and love.
Ben: I am grateful for God’s correction in my life!!!! He is a Wonderful Teacher who guides us into a New Life with Love, and He provides us opportunities to Love others, even our worst enemies!!!!
Rebecca: But true, through Jesus, we know that God’s Love for us can be very like our own, tender, consoling. Feelings imply a physical body that responds to inner and outer events.
Lydia: God is love and the Trinity exists to share love.
Lydia: God is three persons so He can love forever.
Ben: “Greater Love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Lydia: Back and forward.
Rebecca: Through the Incarnation the Trinitarian God enters our human nature.
Rebecca: Maybe the reason St. Francis — at least in translation speaks of God’s Holy Will or desire, good pleasure is to avoid the word “want,” which implies a lack, a deficiency.
Rebecca: Lydia, it is precisely because of the Trinitarian nature of God that He does not NEED us; but the love of God overflows to creating and loving the likes of us!
Visitation Sister: Can’t say, about St Francis choice of words, I mean.
Rebecca: He desires our affection and our obedience. And by our giving this, we help not so much Him as ourselves.
Rebecca: Our prayers don’t change God; if they are genuine, they change us.
Visitation Sister: Over the years one can see one’s changes.
Rebecca: God already loves perfectly.
Kate: Very true, Sister!
Lydia: 20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Denise: Have a good retreat Sr! God bless and thank you.
Ben: My daughter Lian just returned from trip to Ireland. She was able to spend a day hiking with local farmer at the Cliffs of Mohr. Very beautiful but also dangerous place. Many people go out without guide or instruction and some die not knowing safe way to walk area. She was safe walking with guide who knew the land his whole life!!!! The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are our guides through this dangerous walk through life!!! They guide us through the Dangers and strait on the path to Heaven!!!!
Visitation Sister: You will all be in my prayers. Many blessings!
Lydia: God wants us to be in Him.
Kate: Bless you, Sister!
Kate: God bless, and good night, All!
Ben: God Bless Your Retreat, Sister!!!! God Bless You All!!!!
Denise: Goodnight, all. thank you for sharing Lians trip Ben! and for all sharing. God Bless!
Denise: And, Lydia, glad you are here. You share God’s word! He talks to us thru his word. Thank you.
Rebecca: God bless all of you! Lydia, I agree, John 21. It is only, I think, the word “want” that got you thinking we were on a different page. I once saw a kid in a grocery store next to a big display of chocolate bars. He asked his mother, “Do we need chocolate bars?” My mother, and I, probably would have replied with a question, “Does anyone NEED chocolate bars?” or a correction, “No one really NEEDS chocolate bars.” That mother replied, to my amusement, “No, we still have plenty.” God IS plenty: plenty of Love, plenty of Life, plenty of Being, plenty of Joy, and, since entry into a human race which misused free will meant to be used for LOVE — we say Christ “became” sin –though he did not sin. And Love and Obedience — Christ’s and ours — are the answer to sin.
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