Saturday, December 12, 2015
Advent, Day 13: La Guadalupana
It's the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, as well as being as close as makes no never mind to the mid-point of Advent, and as regards celebrating my mother's feast day I haven't been that faithful of a daughter. We didn't read the mass readings, we didn't say the rosary, we didn't even watch La Guadalupana together, although my son asked a few times when we were going to get to it. All this coincides with my advent low point. I'd been reading a few chapters of Isaiah each day, but last night I just didn't because it was late and I was falling asleep. I'm struggling lately with gluttony combined sloth, the tendency to snack when I can because what the hell, I'm fat anyway. And the other morning as I stepped on the scale and saw another high number, I had the cynical desire to do a little experiment and see just how high my weight can go before it plateaus. Because what the hell.
And yes, I already know what I need to do. Start again. Pick up Isaiah. Put down the food. Pick up my feet. Knowledge isn't motivating in and of itself, and sometimes it's an outright burden. I did wonder what God is trying to teach me through these particular struggles this Advent. When I think of my own spiritual journey, I don't see progress, nor backsliding, nor a cycle, nor any sort of graphable movement. Sometimes new insights are accompanied by new virtue. Sometimes they're accompanied by new trials. Sometimes virtue seems to grow with knowledge, other times wisdom seems to move on some separate track from the practice of obedience. Sometimes love is warm and exciting; sometimes it's dry, Just This Thing.
Somewhere in the Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis has his devil recount how a soul, new to Hell, reproached himself: "I see now that I spent my life doing neither what I ought nor what I liked." (Quoting from memory, so give or take a word.) That sounds a good deal like the way I spend my days. On the cornice of Sloth in Purgatorio, Dante has the souls racing around, singing, "Let not the precious time be lost!" That should be the rallying cry of my life. I like to live as if the timelessness of heaven is right now, but of course it isn't. The yearning is good. The application is bad. And Jesus says that some demons can only be driven out by fasting and prayer -- two seemingly passive pursuits that take a lot of active preparation.
Somehow this all doubtless ties into Our Lady of Guadalupe, but I don't know how at this moment, and I don't feel compelled to wrap up the post with a neat little reflection. I know that everything is connected, and that we won't understand or even see those connections until death, when we see God at the center of all things. But I'm not dead yet, so let not the precious time be lost. Better to say it here than in purgatory, right?