Pondering Upon Spiritual Desire by Fr. Daniel Manger, O.S,B. Cam. 4-15-20

As the pandemic and its effects upon our civilization and church communities unfold, the opportunity to explore and examine ‘spiritual desire’ comes into focus. Many have much time on their hands as daily work and routines are disrupted and even altered for the foreseeable future.

The rise of on-line Zoom liturgies, devotions and the many partaking of them offered by their local and international and national churches offers a time to reflect on this expression of ‘spiritual desire’ emerging in our homes and with friend and family. A household church has its origin at the beginning of the church in the first and second centuries. It is a profound grace to consider that there is a grounding that can affirm a deep desire inspired by the Holy Spirit within each of us to recover and celebrate the gift of faith and hope, which can animate the loving actions we are to show forth in relationships at home and beyond.

Something ancient and yet overseen has once again emerged a household church. Consider for a moment reconciliations that have been needed and perhaps impaired our ability to be family, or friends or community can be examined and redressed by the action of ‘spiritual desire’. Spiritual desire is attracted to humble forgiveness and further attracts us toward being sharers of the faith in the Resurrection and life of a new creation built upon and woven in our actions right at home. From forgiveness towards understanding, a faith that seeks understanding. Also, this ‘spiritual desire’ affirms the Vatican Council II’s observation that the call to holiness is one that is grounded in the desire for each of us that God has expressed in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. He is the expression of God’s understanding of our deepest need. This revelation one could say is first the covenant of desire in this ‘call to holiness’.

The pandemic reveals some of the really wonderful and heroic expression responses in each of us touched by divine desire; being rendered in the news media of the woman and men of so many cultures and professional and non-professional lives of the goodness that articulates a tapestry of the ‘ holiness of human life’. Its face portrays many an expression of God’s covenant of desire for us to give our own full selves toward the love of neighbor as we would ourselves. In every walk of life, no matter the responsibility, we can observe this development the world over, yet we know that with this can only be sustained by a deep change of heart. A change that is needed for us to survive and for our planetary community to benefit from is offered now. An economics of God, one could say and the desire of God for each of us and every creature to be cared for flows into our every expression of care born from the origin of our prayer together that acknowledges the Presence of the One who came to reveal and impart resurrected, new creation life among us in his own person.

The present phenomenon of spiritual desire and its explicit expressions in our homes, hospitals, research laboratories, nursing facilities, food banks and so forth, reveal this truth of the words of Jesus before he ascended, ‘Blessed are they who have not seen but still believe.’ A belief that the goodness of human life is worth saving. St. Catherine of Siena in the Catholic Faith tradition, lived in a time of the plague and social upheaval, both is church and state of her lifetime. She kept alive in the faith community among the sick, her friends, colleges and hierarchy and among statesmen, her contemplative desire, and often in her letters makes so evident that the deepest core of our life is based on ‘holy desire’ that embraces us and that is embraced by God’s desire in the Crucified One. She would counsel that one may not be able to do all that is needed around us, that our infinite desire to keep Christ before us, will point the way to what prayer, what actions we can give out of this ‘spiritual desire’. St. Catherine, a doctor of the church, is one we could find solace and help in our time of need no doubt, as blessed Pope Paul VI foresaw in affirming her as doctor of the church.

Know of my prayers and that of Father Stephen Coffee here at our monastery are with you.