30 January 2008

Dark Nights and Deserts

I commented a while back about the consistent renewal of the Holy Spirit in the Catholic Church, contrasting it to the hot/cold ups and downs of Evangelical revivals. There is always some new trend in the Protestant world to jump on then it fizzles out until the next new thing shows up to "revive" the faithful. Apostolic teaching, on the other hand, guided by annointed leadership prevents the Catholic Church from being tossed to and fro from every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4).

What I didn't mention in that post was that I meant the worldwide Catholic Church and the billion plus Christians under her care. She is the largest Charismatic church with more Spirit-filled, tongue-talking, miracle working Christians than any denomination (including the Assemblies of God).

Now, on the individual level we do see ups and downs in our spiritual life. This is natural, like the tides or the seasons. We will go through the desert and we will feast by the river. All great mystics talk about the "dark night of the soul" where suddenly they don't hear or feel God. Mother Teresa's latest book "Come Be My Light" is one such example--she went from daily conversations with God to a desolate place in her heart.

Just because we pass through the valley of the shadow of death does not mean that the Shepherd has abandoned us. Nor does it mean that we have lost something our aren't "sheepish" enough. It just means that this is where God wants you, keep following and the scenery will change.
Next week is the beginning of Lent--no we aren't jumping on the current prayer and fasting bandwagon with the Evangelicals, it was already on the Church calendar. This 40-day spiritual adventure is a time for renewal through sacrifice. Pope Benedict XVI describes it like this:

"(Lent) offers us a providential opportunity to deepen the meaning and value of our Christian lives, and it stimulates us to rediscover the mercy of God so that we, in turn, become more merciful toward our brothers and sisters. In the Lenten period, the Church makes it her duty to propose some specific tasks that accompany the faithful concretely in this process of interior renewal: these are prayer, fasting and almsgiving." (Lenten Message 2008)

Many Catholic and Orthodox bloggers suspend activity during Lent as a discipline. I intend to continue operation during the fast and will offer a daily meditation and updates about my journey.

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