Can't believe we're halfway through the retreat at this point. The novices are videotaping the sessions (do you say that with a hard drive camera), and I was hoping to post a snippet of today's talk, but it is more complicated than I anticipated. These hard drive cameras save everything in proprietary formats, so you can't just open it in any old program and save the bit you want as a distinct file. I had to download a new program, and then import the files directly from the camera (again...) and I still can't figure out how to edit them. I hope there's some way to at least open them in the Mac when I get back to Chicago so I can edit them in QuickTime or something.
Anyway, today I gave the talk about Merton's "point vierge," which to me corresponds to Teresa's seventh mansion. And to which "sin in us" goes, as St. Paul says, "the full way as sin" to undo the beauty of God's work, attempting to lead us down the path of despair through acedia. About which books are beginning to be written once again. (That probably hasn't really happened since John Cassian's interviewed the original Egyptian desert mystics.)
Tomorrow's talk is "The Penitent Heart is a 'Convicted' Heart." I get the language from the evangelicals, who in turn got it from a translation of a term in the Bible. It's a great way of referring to the personal acknowledgment of sin in oneself; sin is not "out there," it is something I know up close and personal. Awareness of the particular quality of sin in me is pretty essential in the spiritual life. Not that you stare at it; not that you can eradicate it. But you can be more on your guard when what the Catholic tradition calls "near occasions of sin" come around. And you can use this knowledge to your advantage, because generally a person's greatest weakness is a sign of their greatest strength. And that strength is meant for the love and service of God and neighbor. (How sad it is when a person is so little in touch with herself that she doesn't know what she has to offer, but keeps trying to imitate the service other people offer.)
I'm drawing tomorrow's talk in part from blog posts from days of yore. (Is that cheating?)
Books I refer to in the talk: