Page 10, 6th November 1998

6th November 1998
Page 10
Page 10, 6th November 1998 — INNER LIFE David Torkington

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INNER LIFE David Torkington

N(). i , x)N'T. think I'm misunderstanding your predicament, but I think you are. If you won't listen to me perhaps you'll listen to St John of the Cross, who was made a Doctor of the Church because of his profound insights into the spiritual life. and most importantly of all into prayer life. He makes it quite plain that virtually everyone who takes prayer seriously and who gives regular and daily time to personal prayer whether they feel like it or whether they don't will eventually find themselves in your prediciunent. In other words, they'll come to the point where they'll find that they can no longer meditate as they once did, nor do they seem inclined to do so, despite a deep yearning that makes them mourn for their maker. who seems to have turned his hack on them.

The most frightening thing he has to say is that 90 per cent of people who come to this point actually give up regular daily prayer for good. This frightening statistic is sadly verified today, though in my personal experience the percentage is even higher. We no longer have a reformed Carmelite Order, or any other for that matter, who are dedicated to helping travellers at this particular point in the spiritual journey.

His works were written. not for complete beginners, but precisely for people like you,

to help them journey on to be purified for union with God in what he called the 'The Dark Night of the Soul". He gave it this title because the prayer that had once seemed to be full of sweetness and light suddenly seemed to be full of bitterness and darkness. It's easy to be with Christ when he is giving out free food, working miracles and raising people fame the dead that's not difficult, but are we prepared to suffer with him? Are we prepared to go into the desert with him, in to the inner mom, into Gethsemane to be tempted with him and to struggle against the power of evil, which we find lurking deep down within? It is this that prevents us from attaining the union to which we aspire more than anything else.

Your experience of prayer in the charismatic movement is typical. What is not necessarily typical. however, was your daily faithfulness to personal prayer as well as to the commu

nity prayer that you shared at the charismatic meetings. Believe me, not all charismatics do this. Those who do will always come to the same predicament in which you now find yourself. Those who don't will go on for a lifetime seeking nice feelings and spiritual goodies, but they will never journey on into the "Dark Night" where they will alone be purified for what, or rather for Whom, they have been created.

The whole point of the new predicament in which you now find yourself is that you are now being offered the opportunity of becoming a spiritual adult. In other words, you are being given the opportunity of learning pure selfless love. This is the love that goes on giving when nothing seems to be received in return. It's the sort of loving that will make you into an even better wife and mother.

Marriages are falling apart all round us today because people have been brought up in a culture of instant gratification. They are no longer prepared to work at their relationships, to go on giving and loving and making sacrifices for the other. In short they no longer know what loving is all about. Several generations have been brainwashed by the media into accepting a squalid little equation that seems to be implicit in the newspapers they read, the television they watch or the fi 1ms they revel in. The equation is this: "love = sexual pleasure". So many have swallowed it "hook, line and sinker", without realising it.

Whether a person is married or not, the moment they cease to get the pleasure they originally received from their partner's body, they immediately think that love has broken down. Then they think it is time to seek out another body to turn them on again to what they wrongly believe to be love. For the same reason. the vast majority of people give up spiritual

loving in prayer the moment they no longer receive exhilarating spiritual experiences in return.

Marriages, whether spiritual or physical, work when people are prepared to work at them by learning how to become more and more selfless, more concerned about giving than receiving. This is what is being asked of you now in prayer. if you are prepared to go on come what may you'll not only learn selflessness in prayer but what you've learnt there will enable you to become a more tolerant, a more patient and a more loving wife and mother outside of prayer. This will in its turn, open you both inside and outside of prayer to receive a quality of toying that you have never dreamed possible before. It will change not only you, but everyone around you, those whom you love and even those whom you don't.



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