CHRIST OUR SAVIOR
Roman Catholic Parish
MANCHESTER, VERMONT

 
 

May 19, 2019

Dear All,

A major, but unsettling truth: YOUR FEELINGS ARE LARGELY IRRELEVANT TO OUR SPIRITUAL LIFE.

No matter how we feel, God loves us, wants to share his life with us, has plans for our eternal life and, to some extent, for this life, too. It is we who get all concerned about being happy or sad, mad or glad, or any of the myriad of variations on that basic four (how many feelings one can identify depends in large part on one's vocabulary).

You see, feelings fall under that indication of life that biologists call irritability - reacting to stimuli. People flinch when stabbed, smile when pleased, lick their lips when something tastes good, frown when bothered by something. Depending on whether a stimulus is 'pleasant' or not, most people will want more or less of same feeling and the stimulus that caused it. It is the wanting, that God cares about and that has a direct bearing on our spiritual life, because it is what we want that largely shapes our doing.

Thus, if we don't want God, we will never act to know him better, to seek his will for us. If we want God less than we want some created good thing - money, fame, popularity, etc. - we will more likely choose the creature rather than the Creator. But those who have come to love God with all their mind, heart, soul and strength will always choose him and his plans even if it means sacrificing some other cause of good feelings.

Because we are creatures with bodies and know our world mostly through our senses, our feelings are almost always stronger about the things that our senses perceive than about the invisible and silent being we call God. To know God we must study; to love him we must recognize him as the only absolute; to serve God we must set our immediate wants aside in order to live in the sphere of the absolute. When we know, love and serve God in this world, we will be happy with him forever in the world to come (sound familiar?).

Thoreau said that "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation". A believer in God will explain that this is so because most men live to achieve some feeling or other that comes from some transitory stimulus. Living in the light of the absolute and for the possession of the absolute provides a security and firmness that do not come and go. Because a certain pleasing stimulus is

Because habituation and boredom set in, we must have bigger and bigger stimuli to bring the same feeling. The name of this syndrome is addiction and its prevalence is signaled by the frequency with which we add -oholic to more and more pleasurable behaviors. Addiction is the other name for Thoreau's 'quiet desperation'.

Related topics to be pursued as we go: Why is the absolute not more obvious? How do we cultivate knowledge and love of it? How do we live on two planes at once?

Really and truly and desperately yours,

tm

     



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