Life was scary as a kid. I remember seeing TV depictions of quicksand and I actually thought that was a not completely unlikely death. Same thing with spontaneous internal combustion stories in the National Enquirer. I can still remember my flesh crawling when reading about one in the 1970s, surely right after Mom brought the tabloid home along with the cinnamon bread that I liked to eat.
It probably didn’t help to read Ripley’s Believe it Or Not!, which sometimes had a ghoulish aspect. Much worse was the horror of a local murder of a family at Easter, which was our generation’s Manson family killings. Add to it the grisly details of the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire and the ‘70s were sort of harrowing for tender youth.
Other events didn’t effect me at all. The Who concert debacle where some people died due to too crowded conditions didn’t seem as terrifying. Elvis’s death also; he seemed pretty old to me at the time. Now not so much...
It’s interesting to consider there is spiritual gluttony and not just the eat and drink variety. For example, I was always kind of envious of St. Paul, who received a special visitation from Christ. I didn’t grasp how much turmoil his life was thereafter, including prison and amputation of the head.
But even St. Paul could’ve been spiritually gluttonous if he’d wanted. He could’ve yearned for more visitations, including while he was being shipwrecked or imprisoned or whatnot. And he also could’ve yearned to have been one of the Twelve, to have gotten to know the human Jesus and witnessed the miracles, like the changing of water into wine or the feeding of the five thousand, himself.
But the funny thing he wasn’t spiritually gluttonous because he didn’t need to be since he - and all of us - have all the Jesus we desire. God is omnipresent. There was no less Holy Spirit when Paul was in prison singing hymns than when Peter was on the mount of Transfiguration.
Christ’s death on the Cross made it possible for someone like me to be propped up, one day at a time, sufficiently to participate in life, to contribute in some small way, to feel occasional stabs of joy.And to those who think attendance at Mass is the mark of a small, confined, rigid, parochial, lemming-like worldview, to me there is and could be nothing wider, deeper, higher than the sacrifice re-enacted on the altar. Nothing more sublime, nothing more mysterious, nothing more astonishing, nothing more counterintuitive, nothing that opens onto more infinite vistas. Nothing more unexpected, nothing more radical, nothing more of love. Nothing I deserve less– than to “stand in your presence and minister to you”–as the Eucharistic prayer runs.
"Take care, my brothers and sisters, for the Evil One wars against spiritual strugglers in sundry ways. He works against man with unimaginably hypocritical cleverness. Thus, before sin is committed, the enemy diminishes its significance in the eye of the strugglers. More than any other sin, he puts before them the desire for fleshly pleasure as such a small thing that, prior to succumbing to it, it appears as insignificant to the conscience of a brother or sister as throwing a glass of cold water on the ground. When, however, the fleshly desire is fulfilled, then the Evil One greatly puffs up the sin in the conscience of the sinner, kindling in his soul numberless thoughts of despair, like black waves from Hell, so that the brother’s good thoughts of repentance are submerged and he is hurled into the depths of hopelessness."