Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sanity or Sanctity: what's the difference, just two letters?

Is it insanity to believe as the saints did, that God is everthing and that nothing else in life can be compared to knowing and loving Him, living moment by moment in His Presence. And is it sanity to believe as most of us do, that God is there mostly for emergencies and often a moral guide and that each of us must live our lives according to the good as we see it in this life? Take the crazy life of some of the saints, especially the mystics. St. Therese of Liseaux considered personal conflicts and physical suffering a privileged stepping stone into God’s Heart, of which she desired to be possessed. She wanted this more than anything life had to offer. Rambunctious and needy as a child, she wrestled with a holy perfectionism, bullying peers, anxiety, deep grief and abandonment. When her mother died of breast cancer, she, the youngest of several sisters, was home schooled by her sisters in academics and sanctity. She chose at an extremely delicate age to leave home for the cloister of Carmelite convent. As a persistent thirteen -year- old,she talked her father into a visit with the Pope so that she could personally beg for early admittance. Out of conventional wisdom and good sense, he refused her. When she finally entered the convent, she was all but tortured, at least mentally, by a jealous superior, who took advantage of her tender age and desire for holiness. She was given the most difficult chores and the least comforts. Yet she showed her utmost reverence and prayed for her daily, happy to do whatever she asked with a true smile from deep inside. She, although still a teen, modeled sanctity to this rather twisted older woman, who had full authority over her. She suffered tuberculosis at the negligent hand of this superior when she delayed getting Therese the medical attention needed. She suffered for a time while yearning ecstatically to be with Jesus. Therese died at 23. She, although as a child frustrated by her lessons at school, and having no formal philosophical training, is one of the short list of Doctors of the Church, along with such greats, as St Thomas Aquinas. Homeschooled by Christ,the only books she relied on for her theology was Imitation of Christ and Scripture, which she comtemplated diligently in heart ..and mind. Next of the most well loved of saints is, or course, St Francis of Assisi, who gave up reputaiton, possession, family responsibilties, friends, the luxury of home, and his father’s favor to follow a starving path of crumbs. He followed the Love and gave up an easy path from a world he knew well for a difficult one to a heaven he had never seen. How sane was that? At the time, he townsfolks thought he was literally insane. And was he? What would we say in our town today? The path to sanctity? Is some degree of insanity prerequisite to real holiness? Does God really requiire sanctification, for all to be saints? Can we make the grade without losing our minds…as we know it? Sane or sainted. Are they mutually exclusive? Hide notes

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