Molten Lava Cake–Franciscan Pilgrimage II

January 10, 2016 at 9:19 pm

My Carmelite friends would describe the grace-filled experience of our pilgrimage as one of God’s lollypops.  Within the Carmelite spirituality, there are times when the embrace of our heart by God from within and without, from above and below, surrounds and fills us and overflows into our senses.  We experience serenity.   

I wonder in these unique moments if there is a special message for me:  ” Is it a confirmation?  If so, of what?”   Rather than just accepting the embrace of God’s love, I overanalyze and wonder if this experience validates what to do, think or practice. 

My Carmelite friends say such experiences are for immature souls who require that form of affirmation.  There is likely something to that.   John of the Cross and other mystics describe a purifying of their faith in a Dark Night of the Soul in which they experience God as Absence.  Such a dark night may be accompanied by events in life that are similar to earthquakes and test one’s faith and trust.  For example, we could experience loss of control and powerlessness as there is upheaval in our lives.  Loss of a job, inability to find work, or our prized identity may be tainted somehow. 

I am sure that my friends are right. I am immature, but this experience was more like a flourless chocolate cake with a hot molten center of oozing chocolate than a lollypop and I loved it.  I want to enjoy that treat as often as possible.  I look for ways to replicate the experience and assume that spiritual growth will accompany it.  I wonder if reading spiritual books, daily scripture, thoughts for the day or practicing intercessory prayer, yoga, meditation, attending Mass would help.  The list can go on and believe me I have tried a variety of formulas to hopefully cultivate spiritual growth.  Ultimately, however, I am afraid that perhaps I have crossed the line.   Perhaps I am trying to control God or becoming more akin to a spiritual junkie looking for a fix.  Am I becoming someone who just wants the experience?   Am I just plain selfish?  More interested in myself and feeling good than I am in loving my neighbor and understanding the requirements of discipleship? 

After experiencing God, Francis was propelled to the margins as he worked with the lepers.  Rather than looking for more “experiences” of God, I should be God’s love for others as I serve Him in others.  The principles of the 12 Step program emphasize that after one has awakened to the spiritual reality of a Higher Power and seek to do the will of that Higher Power each day, one must do service to continue to grow personally and spiritually and to stay free of addiction.  So the question then becomes as part of ever deepening search “What service am I to render?”  Or to paraphrase Francis:  as Francis did what his to do, may Christ teach us what is ours to do.  (Pilgrim’s Companion p. 414) 

May we see and hear what God wants us to see and hear so that we can faithfully and obediently respond  and thereby worship in spirit and truth. “Brothers and sisters, let us begin to serve the Lord for up till now, we have done very little. “  (Pilgrim’s Companion p.409)