Monday, August 10, 2009

Adoration and mental health

Roman Guardini on adoration of God. A good definition of adoration - and humility for that matter - is 1) standing in awe of God's majesty and power and 2) recognizing who and what we are in relation to the God who made us and who is worthy of our adoration.

In adoration angels bow before their divine Lord, the creature before his Creator. But how and why? Not as a man who journeys on the sea in a frail boat and is compelled to bow before a storm. Not as a physician who has fought for the life of a man and is obliged to acknowledge himself helpless before the advance of disease. In both cases this would mean bowing to a superior force. But certainly not adoration.... The angels, the elders, the four living creatures prostrate themselves before God for a very different reason, not only because He is all-powerful, but because He is worthy.

This thought it is which determines our relation to God, and we must understand it well. We are as nothing before Him, nevertheless we have the dignity of our personality. Not from ourselves, but from Him. Yet a dignity which is really ours. And it places an obligation upon us. Before a God who were only power, we could not bow low, we could only submit. But God is not mere power, He is mind as well. As great as is God's power, just so great is His truth. As perfect as is His sovereignty, just so perfect is His justice. As truly as He is real, just as truly is He holy.... The hymn of the Mass, called the Gloria from its opening word, contains an expression which at first may appear meaningless. "We thank Thee for Thy great glory." What does that mean? Do we not thank a person for what he gives, rather than for what he is"? But the words express the thought exactly. That God exists and that He is what He is constitutes no mere necessity, or fact, but a grace and a blessing. Yes, it is true. we are permitted to thank Him for His mere being.

And here lies the root of adoration. It is the bowing down of all creation before God, not only because He is all-powerful, but because He is worthy as well.

A great and blessed mystery is adoration. In it man fulfills his ultimate obligation to God and at the same time safeguards his own soundness, for it is the instrument of truth. Adoration is not merely all act by which we reach out to the knowledge of God, but a movement of man's whole being. The very foundation, the pillar, the arch, the essence of all truth is -- God is God; man is man....

Adoration is the safeguard of our mental health, of our inmost intellectual soundness. But what do we mean by that? Can the mind of a man fall ill? It can indeed.... Illness of the spirit finds entrance only in so far as it reaches the mind's seat of health, of soundness, namely, truth and justice. A man's mind falls ill when he relinquishes his hold on truth-not by lying, though he lie often, for in that case the injury to the spirit can be repaired by contrition and the renewal of good will-but by an inward revolt from truth. True illness of the mind and spirit sets in when a man no longer cherishes truth but despises it, when he uses it as a means to his own ends, when, in the depths of his soul, truth ceases to be to him the primary, the most important concern. In such a case, a man may not appear ill, indeed he may be functioning efficiently and successfully. But the order of his being is deranged. The scales with which he measures are out of balance. He no longer distinguishes between ends and means. He can no longer tell the destination from the way. He has lost the inner certainty of direction. He lacks answers to those final questions—why? For what purpose? And his whole being is affected.

What has all this to do with adoration? In fact everything. For the man who worships God will never risk losing his balance entirely. Whoever adores God in his heart and mind and also, when the moment arises, in actual practice, is being truly protected. He may make many mistakes, he may be deeply bewildered and shaken, but in the last analysis the order and direction of his life are secure.

We do well to see this clearly and to actually act—accordingly. But our resolve to practice adoration should not be simply one among many good resolutions as, for example, to keep one's word, or to do one's work properly. For here we arc concerned with the very center and measure of being. Everything depends upon whether or not adoration has its place in our lives. Whenever we adore God, something happens within and about us. Things fall into true perspective. Vision sharpens. Much that troubles us rights itself. We will distinguish better between the essential and the nonessential. The end and the means, the destination and the way. We discriminate more clearly between good and evil. The deceptions which affect daily life, the falsifications of standards are, to some extent at least, rectified.

As has been said, we must make a practice of adoration. The important thing is not to wait until obligation requires it, which might happen seldom enough; if we limit ourselves to such occasions, they would grow less and less frequent. Religious acts must be practiced if they are to grow into strong habits. God desires our adoration and we need it for our soul's health.

Whenever possible we should kneel. Kneeling is the adoration of the body. And in kneeling, we share the posture of the four-and-twenty elders who represent all creation in adoration before God. Then we should be still, cast aside all unrest of body and mind, be quiet in our whole being.

At the moment of adoration we are there for God. And for God alone. This very detachment from the oppression of care, from the cravings of the will and from fear is in itself adoration, and floods the soul with truth. Then say: God is here. I am before Him as are those forms in the vision, bowing down before His throne. I cannot see Him, for everything here is still in the obscurity of time, still earthly. But I know by faith that He is here. He is God; I am His creature. He made me; in Him I have my being. And now there is probably no need to write further. The one concerned must look up iota the face of God—His God-and tell Him what his heart bids him say.

Then he will experience for himself how really blessed and healing adoration is. So much that has been tormenting subsides. So many anxieties show themselves to be groundless. Desires and fears become regulated. Man gathers strength to meet the demands which life imposes upon him, is fortified at the very core of his being, and takes a firmer hold upon truth.

Man's adoration of God, here and now, with the limited vision possible in time, has a beauty all its own. It anticipates that stage when all will be clear and comprehensible. For whenever man adores God, the new creation breaks through. Is this not a wonderful thing to achieve? Wonderful, too, that a man can give glory and honor to God even while that same God is permitting Himself the appearance of weakness, and that a man may keep faith with Him Who, for the sake of truth, allows Himself to be dishonored; to recognize that here and now God is worthy to receive glory and honor and power. Perhaps the greatest experience that can come to a man is that he, a transient being, still caught in the confusion of this life, can give what is due to a God who is unintruding, can erect a throne for Him in his own heart, and, for his own part at least, establish the true order of things.

Eucharistic adoration is what made the difference between my calling the vocations director and remaining a layman who would have probably spent the rest of his life wondering what might have been. Are you unsure of which state of life our Lord calls you? Go to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Are you at the end of your rope and don't know where to turn? Go to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Do you wish to acquire wisdom and virtue? Go to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

(HT: Pertinacious Papist)

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