Friday, May 20, 2011

The Need for Spiritual Direction

Today the Holy Father addressed the Pontifical Theological Faculty Teresianum, celebrating its 75th anniversary, founded by the Discalced Carmelites to serve the church in its scientific study of anthropology and spirituality. I recommend reading his address in its entirety to get a better understanding of the Teresianum, but I want to zero in on the following excerpt:
As she has never failed to do, again today the Church continues to recommend the practice of spiritual direction, not only to all those who wish to follow the Lord up close, but to every Christian who wishes to live responsibly his baptism, that is, the new life in Christ. Everyone, in fact...needs to be supported personally by a sure guide in doctrine and expert in the things of God. A guide can help defend oneself from facile subjectivist interpretations, making available his own supply of knowledge and experiences in following Jesus. [Spiritual direction] is a matter of establishing that same personal relationship that the Lord had with his disciples, that special bond with which he led them, following him, to embrace the will of the Father (cf. Luke 22:42), that is, to embrace the cross.
Papal Address to the Teresianum, Zenit. Emphasis
In case anyone's wondering, I do not accept the idea that scripture is self-interpreting. The rapture is a great example of this. Now, I don't know any of the details on the background of the rapture; nor do I have the desire to go looking for said details.

Suffice it to say that someone read 1 Thessalonians 4:17 and, through the picking and choosing various scripture verses that supported their idea, developed the concept that is now a favorite subject for many a person who hopes for deliverance from this increasingly hostile world. When May 21, 2011 comes and goes and again there is no rapture, faith will take another hard kick to the ribs.

Forget for a moment the theological or apologetic discussions regarding the end times. Right now there are people who, having convinced themselves that tomorrow is their last day on earth, have said their goodbyes and are waiting to be delivered. When they're still here on Sunday, how many will abandon their faith?

Right now many people are recklessly--and, by the way, very uncharitably--mocking those who have bought into the most recent rapture prediction. How much more entrenched in their disbelief will result?

What of those who, in spite of being proven wrong again and again, don't want to let go of the faulty concept of the Rapture? Will they dig into the scripture further, continuing their futile search for the supporting evidence of their own ideology?

It's a vicious cycle, and it will be humanity's downfall, because it all boils down to this: we must embrace the Cross, every one of us, no exceptions. This is why, if we don't already have a spiritual director (mine's my regular confessor), we should all take the Holy Father's very timely advice and find ourselves one.

[T]he Spirit said to Philip, "Go up and join this chariot."
So Philip ran to him, and heard [a eunuch] 
reading Isaiah the prophet, and asked, 
"Do you understand what you are reading?"
And he said, "How can I, unless some one guides me?" 
And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

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