St. Teresa of Avila said once, “God deliver me from gloomy saints!”
My desire is to reconcile these two trains of thought. My suspicion is that St. Teresa of Avila would not have any disagreement with Fr. Gabriel, but see what you think. BTW, the post immediately following this one goes with this train of though rather well.
DIVINE INTIMACY, by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D.
#161 GOD’S PILGRIMS
Third Sunday after Easter
1. Today the liturgy begins to direct our thoughts toward the coming Ascension of Jesus” “A little while, and now you shall not see Me…because I go to the Father.” The Gospel (Jn 16:16-22) which relates this passage is taken from the discourse that Our Lord made to the Apostles at the Last Supper. His purpose was to prepare them for His departure, before He went to His Passion; but the Church presents to us this farewell speech of Jesus today, before His Ascension. Having accomplished His mission, Jesus must return to the Father who sent Him. One day we shall have to do the same; earth is not our lasting dwelling, but the place of our pilgrimage. Jesus has said so: “A little while, and now you shall not se Me…” These words which were enigmatic for the Apostles, who did not understand them, are not clear to us: “a little while” – that is our short lifetime, and very soon we shall see Him in His glory. Then, as our Lord said, “your heart shall rejoice; and your joy no man shall take from you.” However, before reaching this happy state, we have to endure the difficulties, struggles and sufferings of life on earth. Although it is “short” compared with the “eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor 4:18) which awaits us, the Lord knows that for us, overcome as we are by the trials of life on earth, it is “much” and painful. He warns us, therefore, so that we shall not be scandalized: “-You shall lament and weep, but the world shall rejoice…” The world rejoices and wants to rejoice at any cost, because it is immersed in the pleasures of this life, with no thought of what awaits it beyond. If it cannot escape the inevitable sufferings of life, it tries to stifle its sorrow in pleasure, by contriving to extract from every fleeting moment all the enjoyment possible. A Christian does not do this; he imposes on himself a life of sacrifice and renunciation, in view of heavenly happiness: “You shall be made sorrowful,” said Jesus, “but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.”
2. The Epistle (1 Pt 2:11-19) likewise exhorts us to live on earth with our eyes turned toward heaven. “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, to refrain yourselves from carnal desires which war against the soul.” The pilgrim cannot delay to enjoy the pleasures and joys which he meets on the road, or he will endanger the success of his journey and may even run the risk of not reaching the end. So the Christian, God’s pilgrim, cannot allow himself to be detained by the things of earth; he can use them and even enjoy them, if Providence puts them in his way, but only wit ha detached heart which immediately leaves them behind. Nothing can delay him, for he is in a hurry to reach the goal. The life of a Christian is like that of a traveler in a foreign land, who never delays because he is anxious to get back to his own country. The Secret of the Mass very aptly puts on his lips the following prayer; “May these mysteries, O Lord, quench the ardor of our earthly desires, and teach us to love only the things of heaven!” We need this prayer very much, for present satisfactions and goods, with their tangible, concrete character, may always make an impression on our senses and heart, even to the point of detaining us in our progress toward heaven, and of making us forget the emptiness of all earthly things. Another characteristic of the pilgrim is that he is never satisfied until he reaches his native land; this unrest throws a veil of sadness over his life. Thus, the Christian, God’s pilgrim, can never be wholly content until he reaches heaven and possesses God. Today, sighing, he runs toward Him; he quickens his step, sustained by the hope of meeting Him “face to face” some day. His hope, however, is accompanied by a feeling of sadness, because he hopes for what he does not yet possess. His is the holy sadness of those who are seeking God. Let us thank God if Hi has made us experience this; it is a good sign; it is a sign that our heart has been captivated by His love, and that earthly things can no longer satisfy it. Once again the words of Jesus comfort us: “Your sadness shall be changed into joy.”
“Do not try and rejoice until you have suffered” (St. Teresa of Avila, Exclamations of the Soul to God)