Undone?


I was reflecting with my spiritual director the other day some more thoughts on the Paraclete. (Our Lenten study at church is on the Holy Spirit, by the way, which is why our recent musings have been geared towards the Third Person of the Trinity).

Our reflection brought me to one of my favorite passages in Scripture, Isaiah 6, where Isaiah is commissioned by the LORD. I was drawn to Isaiah’s language of being ‘undone’ in the presence of the LORD. He is faced with God’s holiness and ‘otherness’ and can only say ‘Woe is me!’ This is not the experience of a ‘worm’ or someone who needs to ‘get over’ his guilt. This is man naked before the numinous.

In our world, we treat the spiritual life the same as everything else. Spirituality is something to be ‘consumed,’ we get what we want from it, and we move on to the next fad. Certain ‘gifts of the Spirit’ or emotional responses to God are as deep as we want to go.

How about being ‘undone?’ How about being naked before the numinous?

5 thoughts on “Undone?

  1. “Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!”

    No doubt a body would be “undone” standing naked before the throne of Glory where there is “no shadow of turning.” But I suspect this kind of raw, unfettered encounter is rare, very rare indeed. At least this side of the veil anyway. And definitely not a “special effect” that can be drummed up or manufactured (Sorry, Benny) like pulling a rabbit out of a hat. The Wind bloweth where it listeth. Slippery and elusive like a Ghost, though ever haunting us with His Love. No “abracadabra” or “open, says me!” hocus-pocus will guarantee the “display” that so many seek as an authenticator of their faith and/or the reality of God’s presence. We can only pray that God in His mercy spares us, as we are now, His presence unveiled, lest we be made old before our day or reduced to ashes. Even but a sideways glance of His back, peaking between trembling fingers, would surely be our end, would it not?

  2. Dead on brother C. Forget not, though, the language of the Mass:
    “Lord, we pray that in your goodness and mercy your Holy
    Spirit may descend upon us, and upon these gifts, sanctifying
    them and showing them to be holy gifts for your holy people,
    the bread of life and the cup of salvation, the Body and Blood
    of your Son Jesus Christ.
    Grant that all who share this bread and cup may become one
    body and one spirit, a living sacrifice in Christ, to the praise
    of your Name.
    Remember, Lord, your one holy catholic and apostolic
    Church, redeemed by the blood of your Christ. Reveal its
    unity, guard its faith, and preserve it in peace.
    And grant that we may find our inheritance with the Blessed
    Virgin Mary, with patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs,
    and all the saints who have found favor
    with you in ages past. We praise you in union with them
    and give you glory through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
    Through Christ, and with Christ, and in Christ, all honor and
    glory are yours, Almighty God and Father, in the unity of the
    Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. AMEN.”

    Are we to expect this descent of the Holy Spirit?

  3. Good one Padre. Indeed, it is in the celebration of the Eucharist that my mentality most resembles an “abracadabra,” poof!, rabbit out of a hat spirituality.

    And, yes, I expect the descent of the Holy Spirit, however benign in terms of “fireworks” the moment may be.

    I take comfort in the fact that it is in the most pedestrian and mundane of life rituals that this “movement” of the Holy Spirit takes place. A meal. The breaking and sharing of bread and wine (or for the holy and pious, grape juice). Even in its most extreme and philosophical forms, transubstantiation/consubstantiation, with which I personally concur, more so with the latter, you’re still left with little more than hope or faith that the bread and wine are somehow more or have miraculously changed. In Holy Communion, there is no spectacular show of force in the form of “signs and wonders.” (There are of course those rare peripheral stories in Christian history associated with the consecrated elements.) No “special effects” are provided by God to shore up verification of His presence. Frankly, that’s the way I like it. It guards against excessive and dangerous preoccupation with the expectation of “miracles” that the “Dove Swallowers” would have us think is a test or demonstration of real or genuine faith.

    I know some claim to experience on rare occasion something of the “otherly” during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, but even these moments tend to be more reserved and reticent. I for one would say I’ve probably never felt or experienced anything definitive on this front, other than the occasional lump of emotion in the throat. My experiences leave plenty of room for doubt.

  4. In our world, we treat the spiritual life the same as everything else. Spirituality is something to be ‘consumed,’ we get what we want from it, and we move on to the next fad. Certain ‘gifts of the Spirit’ or emotional responses to God are as deep as we want to go.

    My God! What a powerful statement Fr. Neo!

    Speaking for myself only – if the nakedness you speak of is total candor with God – that is what I consistently strive for. But at the same time, I feel that in that candor I still am only meeting God halfway. I struggle to examine my own heart, while feeling that my thoughts and desires are still so far from God’s thoughts and desires that half the time I don’t even know how to judge what is wrong and right in my life. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? I guess what I am saying is that I feel at a serious disadvantage in this. Sometimes I find I have gotten it right when I got it wrong and vice-versa.

    Or maybe this nakedness you speak of is simply the willingness to go before God and allow Him to examine our hearts and submit the evaluation.

  5. My quest is always to be naked before the numinous, I’m afraid. I keep thinking that since we know of the reality of the Mt. Athos experience, there must be a way to visit that blessedness that doesn’t involve converting to the Orthodox or flying to Greece for a few years quietness. Yet, I did experience silence once so deep that I felt suspended in infinite space and breathless before … what.

    My numinous experience, which led to a doctoral dissertation, eventually haunted me out of TM and intellectual stuff into directly approaching the throne that contains a real person/God in Jesus Christ. But since coming home, I fill my time with trivia and business and don’t creep up into His lap in silence. Why not?

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