Understanding our place

A Rosary Meditation: The Second Sorrowful Mystery, The Scourging at the Pillar.

“This is why I was born, and why I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.” John 18:37.

There was never any doubt in the mind of Christ as to his place in the scheme of things. He knew why he was born, why he was here. He understood completely his vocation.

Vocation. Our place. It can be a little tricky for us, can’t it? Things that are hard for us to spot, for whatever reason, can cloud issues. We are, after all, only human. And that’s the truth. Sometimes trying to figure out our God-given place in life can be a painful experience. Look at what so many of the saints went through trying to find God’s will for themselves. Its like a kind of scourging. But that’s why God has given us people in authority, people with training, friends and family, spiritual advisers, our confessors, people with insight. They often see in us the obvious, things that, again, we may over look.

I remember years ago working with a guy who had, well, lets just say issues. I liked him, we worked well together, and we talked. He was divorced and had been for a long while. The marriage had ended badly. He had a daughter that he hadn’t seen in years and years. When she was old enough she found him. And after all that time they began forming a relationship. He was happy about it and I gathered she was too. Then she decided she was going to get married. She was 16 and I think her boyfriend was in his twenties. My friend tried to talk her out of it, to convince her it was a bad idea (lots of details, it WAS a bad idea). Her reply was always, “Mamma was my age when you married her!”  And she had him. Now his time of pain, his own scourging, began. He had no reasoning to come back with. What she said was absolutely true. How could he combat an obvious truth? He was telling me all this. Exasperated, desperate, he stopped talking, looking dejectedly at his feet. I just looked at him. To me it was obvious. So I said, “You know what the answer is to that don’t you?” “Well, no.” I looked at him and said, “The next time she tells you her mom was her age when you married her you tell her, ‘Yeah, and you see how THAT turned out.’ ” In his eyes I could see the light come on. “Yeah, yeah! You’re right. That’s what I’ll tell her!”

He was actually trying to help his daughter with her vocation at that stage of her life. And probably help her avoid a scourging all her own that was completely unnecessary. They were both missing the obvious. A disinterested party had a clearer view, emotions and history not getting in the way.

We all have a place in the scheme of things. Jesus knew his.

“But all these things one and the same Spirit worketh, dividing to every one according as he will.” 1 Corinthians 12:11, Douay-Rheims.

Just a thought … Some one says, “Just because Jesus knew his doesn’t mean I know mine.” True. That’s why Christ provides guidance. He has people here to take care of issues like not knowing our place. He will speak to us through them. (Anyone not believing this, please explain away the First Vatican Council and Papal Infallibility for me.) So you don’t know, so what? That doesn’t mean you can’t know. And the fact is that you CAN know because HE already does.

I’d like to share a little more desert …

Just laying here, eating pills and crackers, gives me time to think. And write. So I  thought I’d share one last thought today and then try to take a nap. So …

Poustinia: Derived from the Russian word for desert a poustinia is a small sparsely furnished room or cabin. Its a place for someone to go in order to fast and pray, and to be alone with God.

Poustinik: A person who lives the above permanently. It is a calling without formal consecration or vows.

Poustiniks have existed in the Russian Orthodox Church for some time. Over the past several decades it has been accepted more and more by Roman Catholics as a valid spiritual calling and has been adopted, with the permission of a spiritual adviser or someone in a similar position, by many.

Specifically, a poustinik lives alone. Strictly speaking a poustinik is not a hermit, although many see it as something similar. For myself, other than the fact that they live alone, I don’t see the resemblance. A poustinik helps in the community when help is needed. For example, in Russia when it was time to harvest crops the poustinik would lend a hand where needed. That doesn’t sound like a hermit to me, being actively engaged in community endeavors,  although I suppose a hermit could certainly do the same if called upon. A poustinik also has an “open door” policy. When a visitor comes they are greeted by the poustinik with, “Welcome. Come in and share what God has blessed me with.” Again, this doesn’t sound like a hermit to me. Not that hermits are inhospitable. I don’t mean that at all. Its just that hermits, in my mind, live a more secluded existence and because of that probably don’t get that many knocks on the door.

I explain the above because in my mind, whether I’m right or wrong, a poustinik is very socially inclined even tho they live alone. I don’t see it as being like a hermit at all. And I suppose that as being a poustinik is a personal calling it lends itself, at least in part, to a personal definition.

I was reading about poustiniks and it seemed to me that living as a poustinik, with a few simple and necessary modifications given a persons time and place, would be a wonderful way for someone who lives alone and is a Benedictine Oblate to live the Rule of Saint Benedict more fully. A sort of calling within a vocation. And, given today’s world and the people who are spiritually seeking, it could easily be a good way for any single person to live if they feel called to it and have the proper permission.

There was one other thing that drew my attention to the life of a poustinik. It was the reason for the open door policy. People go to the poustinik to talk. Maybe they need advice, or maybe they need to share a joy or sorrow, perhaps they’re lonely, some folks need to vent, and of course there are people who just want to talk. The poustinik is there for them. Now for me the first thing that comes to mind  is that anyone giving advice needs some life experience if nothing else. So I’d say again, life experience being what it is and normally including others, the poustinik would be more of a social being than one given to retreating from the world.

I thought this something worth sharing. It seems to me a fine calling and maybe someone reading this will feel drawn. I felt drawn when I heard of it. I went over the concept with the Oblate Director at Subiaco Abbey, and it was pretty obvious to me that the Spirit of God was working through him. I explained my view of it, a poustinik being a kind of spiritual activist, and when he saw that it wasn’t going to be a reason for me shutting people out but rather a way of inviting them in and going out to them, he gave me his permission to live my Oblate life as a poustinik. He gave me some good advice to help keep me in the right place spiritually and I’m thankful. A good portion of my “open door”, given my health, is this blog and my Facebook pages. Hopefully this new viewpoint will bring me closer to Christ and help me help others to do the same.

Now, all of you, welcome! Come share with me what God has blessed me with. 🙂