March 21, 2007

Short Story Tuesday - an Imagined Spiritual Conversation

Larry: "I can’t say I often feel the power of the Holy Spirit during times of temptation, even those few times when I invoke the Spirit in the midst of it. Often I am angry or prideful or lustful and there is no immediate relief from those feelings. So I white-knuckle it. To what extent is our freedom is limited by our native psychology, say a tendency towards depression or "Fightin' Irish" anger? I suppose that's a moot point since because we don't know how much our freedom is impaired, it can't be of any objective use."

Moe: "Oh but we already have power, we already have the Spirit by virtue of our baptism and faith in Christ. A power unfelt at times but---"

Larry: "At Pentecost the power was felt - isn't that the model?"

Moe: "No, the Spirit prefers to work modestly, invisibly, humbly, without a big show, seeking the lowest ground, that is humble ground. Besides, the bigger the show, the bigger the cross. Pentecost was a preparation for their martyrdom."

Larry: "Yeah I can see that. I guess prayer for me is a great perspective-builder. Going to Mass or saying the rosary or reading Scripture will slowly turn things around such that I see the bigger picture. That, for example, no anger is worth holding on to in the light of Christ. He makes me feel good again, lucky sometimes, or at least lucky to have another chance to please Him. Or else I'll recognize that I simply have no choice - that I can't hold a grudge against my neighbor and receive at the Eucharistic banquet and I am at peace in that choicelessness."

Curly: "My notion of the spiritual life is that it's like a lotto game. People play the lottery in order to get a chance to win the big jackpot and prayer is the spiritual equivalent. Every day you pray and every day you fail – you scratch off a ticket that says you lost. And you ask for forgiveness and the next day you get up and you pray and then scratch off that day’s ticket with new hopefulness. To win the spiritual lottery is to win that sudden influx of love into your heart. That you become on fire for love of God and feel a great zeal and, to switch analogies, to become a champion, a saint, a Babe Ruth in love of God and neighbor. And, then the ultimate sense the spiritual lottery is, of course, Heaven, literally the heavenly jackpot."

Larry: "Interesting Curly I've never looked at it that way before. [gives a noogie.] I tend to look down lottery participation, thinking it a tax on people who are bad at math. Money doesn’t make people happy, and besides they should save that money in a bank since the odds are so poor."

Curly: "But why do the poor play the lottery so much more than the middle class let alone the rich? Because living hand-to-mouth, with a constant worry about debt makes the dream of winning so much sweeter than someone with fewer debts. Is it like that in the spiritual realm? If I were virtuous and holy and devout, instead of constantly incurring debt (with a host of demon creditors thinking they own me), then would I be less concerned about the spiritual realm? Would I pray as often? Would I scatch those spiritual tickets? What about you Moe?"

Moe: "Hmm...well I think of the spiritual life as "family life." That is, under normal conditions, you don't "feel" love all the time. Yes, you love your mom and dad and brothers and sisters, but you don't really run an emotional or feeling "high." It simply is. Then in crisis, suddenly, you understand the bond that holds you. Like when mom died. Yes, I missed my mother and knew I loved her, but suddenly, I understood my deep connection with God. I prayed incessantly, in Love with God and feeling it for a short time. I was more certain than ever of His existence, even though these are exactly the times when many begin to doubt--a loved one taken away far too young and all."

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