Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Holy days and holy expectations

I think that one of the biggest challenges for me in the spiritual life is my desire for, and many times lack of, spiritual consolation. This is especially apparent to me during feast days like Christmas and Easter. During these holy and beautiful celebrations in the Church, I always envision that the day of celebration should be a sort of holy high - when one is filled with joy at the feast, overflowing with the love of God, and an overall sense of warmth and peace.

I can distinctly remember this expectation, and then subsequently, a let-down, as early as in my teenage years. Perhaps it is just because I am a more emotionally-driven person, very attuned to experiencing both the joys and travails of life primarily through feeling. That is just who we melancholics are. It has taken me many years to realize that just because I don't "feel" the overwhelming presence and peace of God, doesn't mean His grace isn't working in my life.

It's kind of like the sense that people commonly have when going on retreats, praying for very specific intentions and changes in their life. Many, myself included, secretly hope to have lightening-bolt experiences where the love and consolation of God is vivid and unmistakable.

But that's not how the spiritual life works on a regular basis, and more often than not, we are invited to look for the "intimations of grace" that He manifests to us ever so quietly.

It's a deeper love, and a deeper joy that we are offered, especially on feasts, holy days and retreats.

Amidst the family meal preparation, the it-could-be-better church choir, the lackluster homily, the 'ChristEasters' laughing and talking in the pew behind you, the unanswered prayers in your heart, and the dry meditation time after Communion, Christ comes.

Christ comes.

He doesn't magically transform the bothersome cacophony of all this back into perfect harmony in one fell swoop. That sort of harmony and the perfection are only a reality in eternity.

But in the space between our eternal longings and the earthly imperfections, Christ enters and transforms. The stronger we believe in the Incarnational significance to our fallen and imperfect circumstances, the more the Light will enter in.


  1. This is beautiful Maria! You're starting to sound like Caryll Houselander. Just what I needed to hear today. Have a blessed rest of your Triduum friend!

  2. Thanks Claire! Perhaps I was subconsciously thinking about some of the Caryll Houselander writings that I have read. :-) Blessed Tridduum to you too!