Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Cave

Today, I went to the main Jesuit church in Rome that we call the Gesu. Attached to it is the building where St. Ignatius of Loyola wrote the constitutions of the Jesuits, had a number of mystical encounters, and where he passed from this life. We celebrated Mass in the room where he lived and died. A Jesuit from the NAC brought us and celebrated the Mass and I thought I would relive his homily for you as it definitely impacted me.

He said that one time his spiritual director, a strong and faithful old Jesuit, asked him, "Do you have a cave?" He was confused at first and didn't get it. But the old Jesuit explained, "Don't you have a place where you go to escape the busyness and chaos of the world and find refreshment in the Lord?" "Yes, yes, of course," he realized. He pointed out that in fact every great saint had a cave where they would escape to with the Lord. Some had physical caves like St. Benedict, I was just there last week, and St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Francis as well. Our Lord was born in a cave and further, it is most likely that when Jesus went up to pray alone he was in a cave as well. This is St. Benedict's cave below. He lived there three years all by himself!

We need a cave! I'm starting to wish I had a real cave just so I could imitate the spiritual giants. :) I've started to wonder where my caves are. Father mentioned a friend's place he could go to and crash at anytime. I remember a priest who loved to hike up into the mountains and I bet he would consider those trails his cave. I dunno if I have a good cave quite yet. I use the Blessed Sacrament chapel but I also just love walking up above the city on the hill right around our seminary. But I think that is so true. As we discern our callings in life, whatever they are, we need to have a cave which we retreat to every day so that we can be refreshed in the Lord and alone with the Lord.

St. Benedict talked about this sense of coming to yourself. And when you came to yourself you were at a certain equilibrium. There was only 2 ways you could go from there. You could be drawn out of yourself by the world and by sin and fall. Or you could be drawn out of yourself towards God. But he placed importance on this being able to come to ourselves. I think that's part of the reason quiet is so important, why our caves are so important. We can always then be ready to let God draw us out of ourselves to him. And even just coming to ourselves we realize who we are, our sad and sorry state, and our need and desire for God.

Got a cave? AMDG.

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