“A Dhia Ghleigil, Oh Glorious God”, Noirin Ni Riain & The Monks of Glenstall Abbey, from the album “Vox de Nube (Voice From The Cloud)” (1996)
Robert Cardinal Sarah
“134. We need to cultivate silence and to surround it with an interior dike. In my prayer and in my interior life, I have always felt the need for a deeper, more complete silence.
I am talking about a kind of discretion that amounts to not even thinking about myself but, rather, turning my attention, my being, and my soul toward God. The days of solitude, silence, and absolute fasting have been a great support.
They have been an unprecedented grace, a slow purification, and a personal encounter with a God who wanted to draw me gradually toward a more substantial interior life so as to maintain an intimate relationship with him. Days of solitude, silence, and fasting, nourished by the Word of God alone, allow man to base his life on what is essential.”
Sarah, Robert Cardinal. The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise (Kindle Locations 1224-1230). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.
Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen
This book of Cardinal Sarah’s is another “treasure from the attic” and amazingly current, not even an antique, but as important and lucid as Father Gabriel’s “Divine Intimacy” or even Augustine’s “Confessions” at the right time in one’s life.
Cardinal Sarah writes in French and this e-book is translated into English for those who have problems reading French … but not so much of a problem for a survivor of, a refugee from, Quebec Premier Jean Lesage’s “Quite Revolution” of the 60’s.
My father realized that there was no future for an Anglo in the new Quebec, and my family emigrated to Ontario with the tidal wave of Anglos escaping the anti-Anglo bigotry running rampant in the Quebec of the 60’s.
Anyway, I did learn French as a result, forced to learn it to graduate from High School, and mostly it was useful in future years in understanding what French delegates at National Conferences were ranting about when they thought only Anglos were listening.
As to the book, I think the original French might be a better read, but the translation is good. Cardinal Sarah also gave us “God or Nothing” which I read a couple of years ago. For a few bucks on Amazon.com for the e-book … priceless.
Almost exactly a year since I started practicing intermittent fasting as part of my “Flame of Love” devotions. Amazing health benefits have flowed from that decision to begin fasting and the practice has become a regular part of my life.
Strangely prescient, making this lifestyle decision, and then to find the practice popping up again everywhere I go in my spiritual reading as a recommended practice in aid of spiritual growth.
Perhaps not such a surprise, in hindsight, to find that following the manufacturer’s instructions helps the engine run better, smoother, faster, longer … follow the manufacturer’s instructions. They are hard to miss once one starts sincerely looking and reading.
So much to read, so much to digest, in silence and no calories …
“Inner Thoughts” Rodrigo Rodriguez, from the album “Inner Thoughts” (2006)
Fr. Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalen
“… God generally purifies souls through the ordinary circumstances of life. In the life of every Christian, every apostle, every religious, there is always a measure of suffering sufficient to effect the purification of the spirit.
These are the sufferings which God Himself chooses and disposes in the way best suited to the different needs of souls; but, unfortunately, few profit by them because few know how to recognize in the sorrows of life the hand of God who wishes to purify them.
Illness, bereavement, estrangement, separation from dear ones, misunderstandings, struggles, difficulties proceeding sometimes from the very ones who should have been able to give help and support, failure of works that were cherished and sustained at the price of great labor, abandonment by friends, physical and spiritual solitude — these are some of the sufferings which are met with more or less in the life of every man (and woman), and which, we will find in ours.
We must understand that all such things are positively willed or at least permitted by God precisely to purify us even to the very inmost fibers of our being.
In the face of these trials, we must never blame the malice of men, or stop to examine whether or not they are just; we must see only the blessed hand of God who offers us these bitter remedies to bring perfect health to our (eternal) soul. …”
from “Divine Intimacy“, by Fr. Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalene, O.C.D. , Copyright 1953 Monastero S. Guiseppe – Carmelitane Scalze, (Discalced Carmelite Monastery in Rome), 2014 edition. Passive Purification, pp 1026 -1027.
As mentioned previously, I can’t say enough good about “Divine Intimacy“.
“It greatly behooves the soul, then, to have patience and constancy in all the tribulations and trials which God sends it, whether they come from without or from within, and are spiritual or corporal, great or small. It must take them all as from His hand for its healing and its good, and not flee from them, since they are health to it.” St. John of the Cross, (Living Flame of Love, 2, 30).
few profit by (suffering) because few know how to recognize in the sorrows of life the hand of God who wishes to purify them
So what does a country boy see out there in the “REAL” world? What are the “world problems” that I think might affect myself, my family and my life here in rural flyover country, what gets on the radar?
I am thinking about peace and conflict, and how I choose to drink at springs of peace or springs of conflict. After yesterday’s outburst of emotion, about observed events which I chose to observe and judge, courtesy of lots of folks with nothing to do but emote and “create content”.
“Wind of the Western Sea” Bill Douglas, from the album “Songs of Earth and Sky”, (1998)
Am I one of those “emoticons in suits”? Well, maybe an emoticon in Levis, and pretty thread bare Levis at that. No suits around here any more – that was all in a previous life, long, long ago. Don’t even have a tie anymore.
It’s 06:55 and the sun is coming up on a cool dawn. With quiet time for second thought, the truth is, there are not really any problems anywhere which directly affect my immediate life … my “real” world is full of beauty, and peace, waiting for room in my soul … if I make the time and make the room to just let it in, if I don’t fill it up with other stuff.
So, I pray for “Purity of Heart”, that purity that goes beyond simple passions and pleasures. Speaking of purity here I am intending to evoke the purity which not only implies an absence of sin but goes much further to invoke the absence of all earthly affections.
I think that is the scriptural sense of “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5,8), and with this Purity of heart, this directing of my entire capacity for affection and attachment towards God alone I may achieve clearer vision of my ultimate goal.
I get glimpses of the target but they are frequently obscured by the up-welling of my passions and self-love and I frequently loose sight of the path, and the world struggles mightily to re-establish dominance in my soul … and I fall … again …
“O Lord, give me right sentiments about You and grant that I may seek You with a simplicity of heart. My heart says to You, ‘I will seek Your face.’ When my heart seeks You, O Lord, it is Your presence it is seeking. Your home is where You dwell, and where do You dwell, if not in Your temple? My heart is Your temple: teach me how to welcome You there. You are a spirit, and I must adore You in spirit and in truth. Come into my heart, and all the idols shall fall.”
“Now I shall listen to Your voice and learn to long for You and to prepare myself to see You. Blessed are all who see You! And if they do see You, it is not because, while they were on earth, they were poor in spirit, or because they were meek or merciful, or because they mourned or hungered and thirsted after justice, but because they were clean of heart. Humility is good for attaining the kingdom of heaven; meekness is good for possessing the land; tears are good for receiving consolation; hunger and thirst after justice, for being filled; mercy is good for obtaining mercy; but only purity of heart permits us to see You.”
“My desire is to see You; what I desire is great, but it is You who tell me to wish for it. Help me to purify my heart, because what I desire to see is pure but my means of seeing it, impure. Come to me, O God, and purify me by Your grace; purify my heart with Your aid and strength. If I receive You into my heart during this present life, after my death You will admit me into Your presence.” (St. Augustine)
“Come, Holy Spirit, speak to my heart; or at least, if You wish to remain silent, may Your very silence speak to me, because without You I am always in danger of following my own errors and confusing them with Your teachings” (St. Bernard)
“Aki”, Rodrigo Rodriguez, from the album “Inner thoughts”, (2006)
Jesus In The Wilderness
Matthew 4:2 states: “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting for forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.”
In the Christian tradition, fasting and prayer are often methods of cleansing and renewing the soul. Symbolically, believers empty their souls so that they may be ready to receive God.
Fasting is about self-denial, mortification, sacrifice, atonement and also about reaching for a focused spiritual state where one can better commune with God and hear his voice.
By fasting, you put your mind and body under submission to the will of the Holy Spirit, humble your soul before the presence of God, and prepare yourself to hear the voice of God.
For millions of people, regular fasting is a commonplace part of life and has been a part of spiritual practice for thousands of years. In ancient times, before we discovered agriculture about 10,000 years ago, fasting was the natural way of life.
Netsilik Inuit Camp on Ice near Gjoa Haven, King William Island, N.W.T.
For our native people here in Canada it was common up until the early 20th century as witness the near starvation catastrophe of the Netsilik Inuit which prompted the Canadian Government to become more involved in the lives of the Netsilik.
With no way to preserve food and no agricultural products to stockpile our ancestors routinely experienced both feast and famine.
When game was scarce, seasons changed, or the pickings were slim, or the herds changed their traditional routes, the hunter-gatherers did without until the hunters could find the game.
Eating 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 times a day was an unheard of fantasy. So fasting is a time honoured traditional practice dating back thousands of years.
Christians follow various fasts on 180 to 200 days of the year. Buddhists are known to abstain from eating after noon, fasting until the next morning.
Nepalese Temple Maha Shivaratri Fast
Hinduism embraces fasting in the belief that our sins lessen as the body suffers. It is seen as a method of cultivating control over desires and guiding the mind towards peace. Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset during the holy month of Ramadan.
We Catholics fast at various times and for various reasons. A few weeks ago I started what I now know as an “intermittent” fast, that is fasting from supper to supper three times a week. Also called a 24 hour fast, this fast is/was undertaken as part of adopting the recommended practices and norms of the “Flame of Love” movement.
I expected the effort to be fraught with difficulty and discomfort, which I actually thought was the intended path, that is, mortification for reparation. The result was not at all what I expected.
Clear Mind Like A Clear Spring
Were I not so firmly rooted in the modern medical paradigm I might have felt I was breaking through to a new spiritual plane of lucid clarity and freedom from physical distress.
I have been type 2 diabetic for almost 8 years now. It has been controlled by a combination of Metformin and diet. I had accepted the modern medical view that Type 2 Diabetes was incurable, and that the best I could hope for was to control blood sugar levels using diet, drugs, and eventually insulin.
The inevitable future included declining health, assorted nasty complications and an early death. The last few months my sugars have been steadily rising, recently as high as 16.5 mmol/l where normal is around 5.0 mmol/l. Obviously the drugs were no longer working and I was discussing with medical folks the possibility of starting to use insulin.
And then, for religious reasons as mentioned above, I started to fast. I was a little surprised to notice that on fasting days my sugars declined back down to the 14.0 mmol/l range. Now, that’s interesting, I thought.
Dr. Jason Fung
Well, never one to shy away from going counter-culture I considered that if I had this result doing intermittent fasting (supper only) three days a week, maybe doing it every day would have a larger affect on my blood sugar. So that is what I did.
For six days I did daily 24 hour fasts eating only supper. And my blood sugar came down a couple of more numbers to 12.0 mmol/l. And I felt better over all, more energy, less appetite, clearer head, better sleep.
This was all good! And then I stepped on the scale and discovered I had lost eight pounds. Click! Something good is going on here and I like where this is going.
You can figure where this is going right? Yup … if 24 hour fasting gives me this much of a good result let’s see where a continuous fast goes. So the next day I just didn’t eat supper.
Has my usual coffees all day, added coconut oil to a couple of them, tasted good. Had some beef broth with a pat of butter added to pump up the flavour. Drank a lot of water!
My bottle is the 1 litre size and I was drinking three or four of those a day. and I decided I had better start researching what I was trying before I got myself in trouble. Almost immediately I found Dr. Jason Fung.
Wow! I downloaded his books from Amazon onto my iPad. Immediately spent several days speed reading through them. Yea, I’m a speed reader.
I guess I read about 7 or 8 hundred words a minute. I took a speed reading course as a teen but the course never even came close to catching up to the speed I was already reading at when I started the course. Mom was pissed she wasted money on the course.
So as of today I have been on a total fast except for beverages and broth for four days. I have stopped all my Metformin, no diabetic medications at all.
My waking blood sugars are down to 11.0 mmol/l dropping to 9.0 mmol/l as the day goes on, and I am testing every two or three hours.
Testing urine with keto sticks and I am in moderate ketosis. I have dropped twelve pounds. I am assuming this is mostly water since this is early innings in this experiment but so far so good.
I experienced mild discomfort on day two of the total fast, feeling — I guess “hollow” best describes the feeling and kind of agitated and restless, and I visited the fridge about twenty times that day but always managed to turn away and stick to it.
Now I am almost done day four and feeling great, no hunger, no discomfort, feeling sharp with lots of energy! I love this.
I will keep y’all posted as things progress. I wonder how long I can go. To get back to my fit combat weight from my twenties I have to lose another 60 pounds. How long can I go?