Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Jacob's Hip

In John 20:29 (NIV), John tells his disciples, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

One thing that seems to be said by this passage is that a faith that does not require proof is a great gift. But what if there is a secondary blessing in not having tangible proof? When God touches people in tangible and measureable ways, the stories are scary. I sometimes wish I could have been there with Jacob, the Apostles, or Padre Pio, but to be there may have been too much for me.

There seems to be a horror in the Holy. Something in the Sacred can scar us. Perhaps we sinners are unfit to see or experience God as heavily as we sometimes do in this life. Maybe this is why the Saints who are closest to God so often carry symptoms which appear as misery to the world. Maybe if they have any misery left, it is not in reality a sickness or a stigmata, but complete conversion to Christ that cannot choose anything but faith and joy.

6 comments:

Zac Horne said...

Hey D.Lo, it's Zac from DLS. While I realize that I'm not exactly the kind of person that ya'll would probably be thinking would be reading this, and, knowing my background, may not have the right pedigree to be attempting to be responding intelligently to this, but here goes.
If we are to reasonably believe that these saints were closer to God than their normal counterparts(us) in the aspect of God or angels being able to touch their lives, then it stands to reason that they are also closer to the flip side of things. If there is one thing I have learned from my own studies, it's that one cannot have one without the other. With that being said, maybe it wasn't from God that the scarring or misery came, but from the other things that are much more pervasive to people with what I classify as "open spirited". These are the people that have visions, dreams, and visits from eternal beings. Unfortunately, once one opens up to a particular side in the "good" and "evil" debate, one opens up to both sides. These people that seemed to carry symptoms of their experiences may have been carrying symptoms of the more vile experiences, and were just never willing to say anything about it lest they be considered "possessed" or a heretic. Especially in the times that many of these people lived, this was something that very believeably could have happened to them, they would have been excommunicated or executed, and would not have become the saints that we see them as today.

Dan Lower / KKairos said...

Hey Zac,

While you don't have pedigree, whatever that actually means in these matters, you have credibility in my eyes to speak on these matters, even though you come from (currently) outside the Christian tradition.

Funny you should mention that--some of the more revered Saints actually have been recorded as having been involved in a decent amount of spiritual warfare. It is worth noting, with respect to the last portion of your post, that Padre Pio (who I mentioned in my post, and who is at least rumored to have struggled with dark forces) was thought for some time by some in the Church, even, to be a charlatan, and there was a time before his death and later canonization that he was treated fairly harshly by those in the Church who did not like him. I don't necessarily think demons personally attack everyone striving for sainthood, but I do think some truth in what you're saying. I think where the misery does not come in the greater temptations to evil (be they from personal or actual demons) it probably is not really misery, just a joy that looks miserable to a world that does not understand.

Anonymous said...

It is a very old teaching going back to the mystagogy of the ancient Fathers that the devil will make war on those who gather under the banner of Christ. Before our baptism we are all, without exception, slaves of Satan. The devil has very little reason most of the time to manifest himself to us, but is extremely angered when his slaves begin escaping to the opposing army. As St John Climacus says, "the fact that we are being warred against [by demons] shows that we are making war." And, as Dan has pointed out, a great deal of saints have been quite open about their war with demons. In fact, many are renowned for this such as in the tales of St Anthony of the desert.

I suppose in the case of mediums, psychics, occultists, or others who try in a general way to open themselves up to spiritual forces, it could be said that they are open to good as well as evil. This cannot be said about the saints, who are loving slaves of Jesus and Mary, and who interact with the devils not as people who are open to spiritual powers in general but as soldiers making war.

Also, Dan is correct to point out that the struggle, the fear and trembling, before the Divine Majesty, is very different than misery. It is in fact the result of an encounter with a Good that so greatly surpasses our own being that we can barely stand in its presence. It has nothing at all to do with the sort of misery and despair we may be thrown into by encountering the demonic. It's more like having our eyes, which are designed to take in light, be overwhelmed by the greatness of the sun's light.

Anonymous said...

The previous comment was from Eric Brooks, but it would not allow me to log in for some reason.

Dan Lower / KKairos said...

Yeah. It would be helpful to know whether when Zac said open he meant in general, or as adversaries--obviously one is quite different from the other.

Anonymous said...

It's Zac again. When I said open I meant that it becomes possible for either side to come inside our minds and souls to attempt to influence us. Just because one is a servant of one or the other does not make it impossible for the other side to come in, just makes it much more difficult for that side to have any sway, power, or influence over us. This spiritual tug-of-war over mankinds soul happens within all of us throughout the course of our lives. What I meant by what I said is that certain saints, and many non-saints have become attuned to this war on a much deeper level than the average human. And there are things out there that can and will scar your soul. The question becomes are you able to fight on a spiritual and mental level, or do you go deeper and fight with your true soul. Because when you actively fight with your soul for your cause, it wears you down, you get battle wounds and scars, and you come out of it with a certain weariness and depression that can be hard to repeal from your outer shell. Much like a human war, there are casualties on both sides, and not all of the casualties come back in bodybags.

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