FURTHER TO LAST NIGHT’S POST on Life influences I’ve had my nose in one of my most beloved Carlo Carretto books again today: I Sought and I Found. And I’ve been recalling how, across thirty odd years, I’ve quoted this extra-ordinary priest again and again and again. Just at the moment when I was beginning to turn my young attention to reading theology and thoughts of preparing, of “formation”, for the priesthood – and in the case of this book, the very year in which I was ordained priest, 1983, Fr Carlo loomed larger and larger on my horizons. I hope I may be forgiven for indulging in a couple of straight quotes:
We have to grasp that the culture in which we are steeped, the so called ‘current view of religion’ with which the media bombard us, especially here in the West, is completely devoid of theological content and even more devoid of experience of God.
At very best we are purveyed a load of superstitions, trite, worn-out commonplaces, absolutely alien to the great, single, sublime mystery of the Unity in Trinity of God, which is the epitome of all visible and invisible reality, the answer to all the problems, the environment in which we live like fish in water or birds in air, the teeming womb of Love.
Heaven is not up there – though it is up there too.
Heaven is everywhere.
Heaven is up there and down here,
Heaven is the infinitely far and the infinitely near.
Heaven is the secret place, that is, the hidden place, where my Creator lives, and where I, his creature live, where he is there as Father and I am there as child, where he is the spring, and I am the one who thirsts, where he creates and inspires, and I have the potential to create and inspire.
Heaven is everywhere, because God is everywhere; and it is called heaven because God is mystery, he is hidden. And it is right that his dwelling place should be called this, out of deference to my immaturity in my ‘becoming’, out of deference to my inclination to half-close my eyes on the path towards the fullness of the All, the path of my progressive discovery of God as Person …
Glory be! How clearly I can now see how this priest has shaped me. How what I read in the late 70s and the early 80s was to have a direct influence and effect upon what I would become, and long to be, and pray for, and hope for, and go on to read, and write, and dare to preach, (see note 5. in Christopher Burkett’s definition of preaching) and seek to live. We’ve absolutely no business allowing ourselves to get caught up, imprisoned, hidebound, by “a load of superstitions, trite, worn-out commonplaces”.
… And because this is so, the light has need of darkness, life must touch non-life, selfless love must discover the fact of selfishness, truth must make its way through the lie, virtue must do battle with sin.
Yes, it is true, I discover the positive of God in the negative of me and the universe, and I know that you need both to have a beautiful photograph.
This is experience of God.
God becomes man so that man may become God, sorrow become joy, the Nothing become the All.
It is meeting.
It is togetherness.
It is begetting.
It is the maturing of the child in the Father’s shadow.
It is the Kingdom of love.
It is the everlasting.
It is paradise.
You living in me and I living in you. Behold journey’s end.
When I was a boy I looked for God by directing my gaze towards the light coming from on high.
As a lad I looked for him in my brothers and sisters around me.
When I grew up I sought him along desert tracks.
Now I have come to the end of the road, I have only to close my eyes and there he is, within me.
If I see light I see him in the light, and if I see darkness I feel him in the darkness. But always within me.
I no longer feel even the need to search for him, or to kneel down to pray, or to think or speak in order to communicate with him.
I only need to think of my human state – and there, in faith, I see him in the midst.
For the second evening in a row I am wondering how my own life might have turned out without lifelong relationship with the Source of that life, and with the dear, dear and sometimes very trying Church of God?