Once I heard it said, by a Catholic psychiatrist, I believe, that the root cause of all mental illness is the lack of love. It's an idea I'm well-disposed to accept. I observe the suffering of many people of the world at large, and at much closer range of people I know and care a great deal about -- you are among these -- and I'm much troubled over the spiritual want that causes such suffering and agonizing distress. God made the world for love -- for love of Him. When we have the love of God in us, poured into us, as St. Paul would say, by the Holy Spirit, we are then 'right' and consequently are fulfilled. The beauty of love, the poetry of life, the harmony of nature, the ecstasy and serenity of contemplative prayer, the silence and the intoxicating power of music which enraptures the heart, moving it to want to repose in God -- all these spiritually human and properly-speaking divine things are being cut off from our experience in this unloving, ugly, pragmatic, techno world. What can result other than suffering from a stifling of the soul? La tristesse du monde (the French language seems best to convey this: "the sadness of the world"). God's holy word had warned us that all the desires of the world are vanity, a "chasing after the wind." Yet we seem not to be able to escape the entrapment of modern life created by our concupiscences. "Do not love the world, or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world -- the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and teh pride of life -- is not of the Father but is of the world (1 Jn 2:15-16). St. James remarks similarly: "whosever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God" (4.4).
The one place of refuge in this unhappy world for us Catholics ought to be in church, at Mass and before the most Blessed Sacrament. As we know so well, even this has often been taken from us, where the Mass is secularized and the tranquility which ought to attend the Blessed Sacrament in our churches and chapels is often ruffled by active busyness and discourteous impudent talking.
I write and speak about these problems of the 'difficulty of being' Catholic in the modern world because I too have to fight off the allurements of the world and of the flesh, and the blandishments of the devil and must run for asylum in the solitary quiet of the Lord's presence where I discover all that my aching heart desires. Those few stabilizing moments of daily prayer are surrounded by the worries, duties, noises and problems of banal existence. I want to fly away like a bird to the mountain (Ps. 10:2) to be at peace with God. This is, I would say, a veiled expression of the desire for heaven itself, a yearning for the plentitude of eternal life for which cause we were created. "Our hearts are restless until they repose in Thee," wrote St. Augustine.
Often when newcomers visit our parish church, or come for Mass here, they note a difference from other churches in finding a certain restfulness (for lack of a better word). I would not say that I am satisfied in having attained to the perfection of this, but I have tried mightily to avoid the most rudely invasive agitators that cause the disquiet in many churches and its liturgies. You yourselves, upon coming into our church, bring in with you, unwittingly, much of the commotion and disturbances you acquired from the world during the past week. It takes time for the sanctifying, calming power of the Lord's words and Presence to do their work to restore the spiritual equilibrium you need to face yet another week of temptation, trial, burden of mundane deportment, and harsh realities of everyday life.
We need so much less of much that we have in order to possess much more of God, of love, of beauty, of serenity -- even of sanity itself. Are we willing to sever those attachments to things we can do without in order to have the greater things and the greatest of all things? It's a question to be pondered and to be acted upon in light of the graces received. God wants us to be at peace, in His holy grace, with our minds and our loves riveted upon Him and upon our eternal goal.
We injure ourselves and cause much unhappiness for ourselves and for others by evading the eternal truths.
Sunday, April 17, 2016
Fr. Eduard Perrone, "A Pastor's Descant" [temporary link] (Assumption Grotto News, April 17, 2016):