IT REVOLTS ME AND DAMAGES MY CONVICTION WHICH CANNOT BE BASED ON THINGS IT CAN REFUSE TO BELIEVE

In previous retreat notes we have seen that when Eugene was using the Ignatian retreat method, he used to refuse to do the set meditations on hell, which required him to conjure up pictures of horror. He judged it as a conjuring up of a fantasy world that revolted him.

12. I will gladly include too that of hell which figured little in my other retreats, but if I want to make effective use of it where I am concerned, my approach must be quite the opposite of that indicated in some books. No “representation of place,” no pictures of demons or of the damned, no going into the details of torments, for it is my experience that all that fantasy-world usually conjured up, far from frightening my mind, revolts me and damages my conviction which cannot be based on things it can refuse to believe, or at least that it can look on as exaggerations, or as the produce of someone’s imagination.

Hell for Eugene was “being deprived of God” – the worst imaginable punishment for someone who loved God passionately and to whom he had made the oblation of his life:

So I will stay with what is of faith, and above all with the consideration of being deprived of God, as opposed to the beatitude of the elect in heaven.
In this way I will reach a conviction of the futility of things the search for which can cause one to lose the unique good that is God.

Retreat resolutions, October 1831, EO XV n 162

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One Response to IT REVOLTS ME AND DAMAGES MY CONVICTION WHICH CANNOT BE BASED ON THINGS IT CAN REFUSE TO BELIEVE

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    The thought of being deprived of God is more than I could bear. It is worse than any physical pain could be – pain of the heart, of the soul, of my being. That is the meaning of true emptiness, true darkness which is the absence of any light. No hope. No redemption. I remember what that felt like and no artistic image can ever touch on the actual experience. What a waste of energy and time to try to capture that ever again.

    The emptiness that I experienced as a child and growing up – I am not re-experiencing it but rather remembering some of the feelings that arose. And I remember and see through my experiences of God, of God’s love which gives order to all chaos and denies the darkness that wants to eclipse light; I do not want in any way to lessen God, God’s love, etc. So I refuse to waste my time searching for ‘what isn’t’.

    I remember a later period of my life where I prayed St. Ephrem’s prayer of repentance – sometimes several times a day as if to flog my heart, my soul. Repentance is not bad but to dwell only on that meant that I missed dwelling on the goodness and light of God.

    “So I will stay with what is of faith, and above all with the consideration of being deprived of God, as opposed to the beatitude of the elect in heaven.” Eugene had a healthy mixture of both. “In this way I will reach a conviction of the futility of things the search for which can cause one to lose the unique good that is God.” I choose not to see through the eyes of hopelessness or lies but rather through the eyes of supreme love – for this miss nothing.

    Such are the graces that God grants as I go enter more deeply into my journey of life with Eugene as my inspiration and guide.

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