Friday, May 30, 2014

Reflection on February 4, 1981

I thought it was interesting how SJPII says you can describe humans as you would animals, describe them in a purely physical sense, but that this would be an incomplete description. SJPII might say you would be lacking the most important part, an indispensable part, what “is” the body, what makes us human. He puts this longing to describe this non-physical part of the human as the inspiration for all of our culture’s art, paintings, novels, poetry, etc. If you think about a scientist that wants to study humans as animals, in an atheistic type setting, that scientist must throw out all art. There is no purpose to such things in a world where humans are merely the sum of all their cells. But how many actually believe that. And you can see that those that want so much to prove we are just like animals don’t want to give up the arts, but they want to bring the animal world up. Why else would you buy art made by an elephant, buy a CD of dogs barking. The world does not want to give up what makes us human but tries to bring animals up to a human level.

When you think about the body, before the fall, in its original innocence, had a neutrality in all its parts, that would be very close to the way SJPII described the scientific view of the body. In original innocence, there were no parts” we think less honorable” or “unpresentable”. When a scientist looks at a body, all parts are neutral, there is no shame, they are all just cells. Although the neutrality is very similar, SJPII is not saying that we were animalistic before the fall. He spent many reflections on the creation narratives showing that we were made above animals from the beginning. But this doesn’t take away the idea of our body’s neutrality, in its parts, in original innocence. SJPII actually finds that St. Paul’s description of the Body after the fall, in historical man, confirms the findings that were developed in the close reading of the creation narratives.

The fall brings about disunity in the body. This causes some parts to be “unpresentable”, causes Adam and Eve to cover them. SJPII does not only focus on the negative, covering ourselves in shame, but also on the positive aspect. He finds that there is original innocence still in us. This is a longing to be pure. We do not just cover out of shame, but to preserve our holiness.

I was thinking about that neutrality of original innocence. In original innocence, physical man was closer to animals, in the sense that there was no need to cover themselves, but their body was in completer unity. Inner man was completely separated from animals and fully understood that disunity and had no desire to be united with them. (Thus Adam’s joy at the creation of Eve, one like him) After the fall, we become less like animals, in the physical sense, because we cover ourselves because of this new disunity and parts that are “unpresentable”. But we grow closer to animals in an inner sense, following our desires and feelings, letting them control us, seeking pleasure and not the unity we were created for.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Reflection on January 28, 1981

Does anyone else thing that “abstain from unchastity” sounds like a double negative.

The discussion here is about purity, and specifically purity as an ability or attitude. When discussed in this light, SJPII calls it a virtue. The virtue of purity is the ability to hold “back the impulses of sense-desire”. By doing this we maintain our purity and “abstain from unchastity”. When you think about it that way, it has a negative connotation; purity is the restriction or barrier to doing something. SJPII understands this and moves onto a second way of looking at it, a more positive approach. You not only abstain but you “keep” holiness and reverence. They are two sides to the same coin and interdependent on each other.

I think the reason it is so important to point this out is because we seem to always focus on the negatives, what we cannot do, what is wrong, what we are losing. Sunday was a beautiful day and a beautiful moment for a good friend, but what stuck with me was a comment (inappropriate at the moment) made to me about my parenting. That is all I could focus on. Paul will get 10 things he wants and then throw a fit for the 1 thing he didn’t get. This is the way of the world. We see St. Paul telling us to abstain and we think he is restricting our freedom. SJPII and St. Paul want us to look at what we “keep” when we live a life in the Spirit.

To be perfectly honest, these talks are becoming a bit dense and I am not sure I am pulling the right tidbits from them. I read a little ways ahead to see if I am following correctly or if I am understanding the context, but I don’t know if that helped. The next several go into St. Paul’s explanation of the Body and its importance, which is touched on at the end of this reflection. As I reread this, what I think jumped out at me, when thinking about abstaining vs. keeping, is what do we keep or, in other words, where do we start. I think having this question in mind may help in the future readings. Where do we start, where were we in the beginning, where were we after the fall, where are we after redemption. Before we can understand what we keep by living this life we must understand where we are or what we are keeping. Some of that has been explained through SJPII going through the creation narrative, but there is more to it in digesting St. Paul’s description of the Body and his understanding of the Body as a Temple for the Holy Spirit.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Reflection on January 14, 1981

Using the freedom “as a pretext for living according to the flesh” is exactly the way I would describe what the world is trying to push. In almost every aspect of secular life, this is the way they excuse their actions. Any limitation or constraint on the ability to do what we feel like is met with the argument that we are a free people and restriction of that is unhealthy. (Although no one, unless they are psychotic, actually believes people should be 100% free to do whatever they want.)

What I see SJPII is saying is that the “law” of the Old Testament was an attempt to conform the “life according to the flesh”. You have laws of cleansing, of circumcision, of material sacrifice, all in an attempt to curb the flesh. What St. Paul is looking to and what has been established by Christ is taking the idea of established in the Old Testament, and applying it further, into living a “life according to the spirit”. All the rituals, sacrifices, acts of the Old Testament are a foreshadowing of what we are supposed to do for our inner being after Christ. What they worked towards in the physical we fulfill in the interior with the help of the Spirit. Thus we see that circumcision is not entirely erased but is transitioned into the act of baptism. (Removal of the foreskin transitions into the removal of original sin)

“Christ set us free that we might remain free”. I thought that was an interesting way to put it. The freedom that the secular world brags of offering, as we have discussed, is not a freedom but slavery to sin, life according to the flesh, an inability to control yourself and have self mastery. SJPII brings all this back to the beginning with the importance of fully giving yourself as a gift and receiving another fully. When you are not “free” in the way described by St. Paul, there is no way to give yourself fully. You cannot give what you do not have. Any part of you that is tied to the world is a part that you do not have the ability to give to another. This understanding of “life according to the flesh” ties directly in SJPII’s understanding of the importance of being able to freely give yourself and that experience and what we learn from that. I think, in some ways, that seems obvious as you are following along. In another way, I think making the connection shows the unity in the theological interpretations from Christ to St. Paul to SJPII and continues to establish the importance of SJPII’s Theology of the Body.

Reflection on January 7, 1981

My last reflection talked about whether there were “fruits” of evil, my conclusion that the “fruit” is basically concupiscence. Here we see that the fruit of evil has the cost of death, and not just a physical death, but a spiritual death or separation from God. I think that fits with my understanding that concupiscence is the “fruit” of evil. I was thinking about those different types of death, physical and spiritual, and about those that might disagree about a spiritual death. If you think they are only talking about physical death being the result of a life lived according to the flesh, then all men live that life because all men die. There must be another interpretation of what “death” means or what Paul is saying doesn’t make any sense. You might say the same about any talk about believers will never die. But we will and we do. Physical death is not the only kind of death there is.

All of this talk about works or fruit made me think of the “Faith Alone” theological claim. Whenever I hear that, it seems they rely almost entirely on St. Paul and his writings. But as we have seen, St. Paul seems to make a distinction between works and fruit and I wonder if that is why language that definitively defends a belief in faith and works is lacking. When Paul talks of works it is in a sense of looking back at Jewish traditions and the things that were done and how they are limited in the sense of salvation. Circumcision is a work done by the Jews but it has no affect on the soul. I discussed earlier about the physical change sex before marriage or the victim of rape would have, but the affect on their soul is not determined by physical change.

It is also hard for me to understand the theology of “faith alone” when having faith seems to me a work. May be not in the most natural understanding, but having faith takes an active response. Or maybe faith is the fruit that leads to the good works. Or may be faith is the overall Spiritual thing that leads to the fruits that St. Paul list. (Love, Joy, etc) Faithfulness is one of the fruits listed, so I don’t see a theology that seems to place it above all others. Faith, Hope and Love and the greatest of these is Love. Explain how faith in faith alone proves greater and not biblically contradictory.

Words I looked up.

Metonymical - Compare synecdoche the substitution of a word referring to an attribute for the thing that is meant, as for example the use of the crown to refer to a monarch. “However, Paul describes them all as works of the flesh. That is intended exclusively against the background of that wider meaning (in a way a metonymical one), which the term flesh assumes in the Pauline letters.”

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Reflection on December 17, 1980

St. Paul may sound Manichaean, but he is not. I think if you take lines, or even large sections, of Paul’s letters by themselves, you could get that impression. That may be one of the reasons that Manichaeism became so popular, because they could point to so many verses to back their arguments. But SJPII says that even if Paul says the body is set against the spirit, the flesh is not sinful. It can be seen as a battleground, but the battle ground is just where the fight happens, not the fight itself. The flesh is where evil can occur, but not the evil. And just as a body can be used for evil, the body can be used for good. It can be a vehicle for good or evil, but it is just the vehicle. SJPII seems to say that the body leans toward the bad or that evil has the upper hand in the material realm, but says it is wrong to think that it is intrinsically evil. Living according to the Flesh or the Spirit seems to flow along the same lines as we have been looking at with looking at the world with the reductive desire or the eyes of God.

I was really interested in the idea that works are different than fruits. The more I read, the more this makes sense, yet the difference seems very minute and seems to depend on who is talking about what. Paul talks about the “works” of the flesh and the “fruits” of the spirit. The footnotes try to explain the difference in a little more clarity. What I grasp is that Paul sees works as “acts proper to man for whom he will be answerable before God”. This seems to cover the gambit, from circumcision to adultery, any act that we do on Earth for which we will be judged. But thinking about that, I think you can quickly fall back into the interpretation that those questioners of Christ had about what is sinful. Would Paul see “looking on someone with desire” as a work that you will be judged upon? I think he would, but I don’t know if you get that from his writings.

Fruit is produced by living in Spirit, in communion with God. Nothing evil comes from God, so fruit, as opposed to works, is always good. But I would argue that, and I may be assuming too much, I think SJPII would argue that there are works that can be good. If not, flesh=works=bad, spirit=fruit=good would be the argument, but this is Manichaean. Flesh does equal works, but they are not intrinsically evil. Praying a rosary is a good work, an “act proper to man for whom he will be answerable to God.” I wouldn’t consider praying a rosary to be a fruit of the Spirit. Section 6 list “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-mastery” as the fruits of the spirit. I think praying the rosary (a work) flows from the fruits but, according to St. Paul and SJPII, would not be a fruit itself.

I think if you consider “fruit” the result of communion with God, its opposite is what we have been calling concupiscence. Fruit of the Spirit battles concupiscence in us and the works that result, good or bad, are the result of this battle and what we will be judged upon.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Reflection on December 10, 1980

To look on someone with a reductive desire is to look upon them without a pure heart. To have a pure heart is to look upon them correctly, as God would look upon them, as made in the image of God. In other words, to look upon someone with a pure heart, you will see God. I thought that was something worth thinking about. I think we take it as just a cliché, seeing God in others, but it actually points to a much deeper understanding of how we see people and where our heart is. Seeing God in others means to have a pure heart. Every look is a opportunity to practice restraint, to guide our hearts, to curb our desires, to purify that which means the most to our salvation. How much do we take a simple look for granted and not as an opportunity to grow closer to God and the experience He intended for us.

I was thinking about the idea that nothing outside can makes a person impure. I thought of 2 examples that may be off, but I thought they might help. The first is a person that has intercourse outside of marriage. They are physically changed; they have lost their virginity and in some cases become pregnant. If they repent, if they go to Confession, if they are truly sorry and receive absolution, then they are forgiven. It doesn’t matter that they are physically different or even pregnant; forgiveness involves the heart, the interior. There is no physical requirement to purity of heart. I also thought about the victim of rape. Although it should not happen, they may be treated differently if it is known. Although they are physically altered, it has not effect on the purity of their heart. Both examples, I think, look at the idea that nothing outside makes you impure. Yes, the choice to have intercourse outside of marriage caused the impurity, but the choice and acting on it are the real cause, not so much the act itself. The act causes a physical change that can never be taken back, but the choice and acting on it can be forgiven and erased and bring back the lost purity.

I found myself thinking about looking on things with a pure heart, seeing the way God sees. That might be easily applied to other people, but I think it can be taken further, basically to everything. Can you look at nature or technology with purity of heart; see it the way God sees it. I thought that was a step that many could accept, so I took it another step. Look on extremes or terrible things with a pure heart, with the eyes of God. Look on the wreckage of a tornado, the tragedy of a car accident, the death of a loved one, and look on those things that we would think of as evil or not from God with a pure heart. I think when you reflect on how you look on things like that and how it affects you or how you handle it, you will get a sense of how pure your heart is.

As I typed that I thought it sounded very insensitive, but that isn’t God. Looking on something like death and being insensitive or numb to it is, I believe, not looking at it with a pure heart any more than looking at it with overwhelming grief or hatred. I don’t know how God sees death, (my heart has some purifying to do) but it is not cold or numb.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Reflection on December 3, 1980

If the inner man or conscious is what we call ethos, has there ever been a time in the history of man when people have been taught to indulge their ethos than right now. Christ interpretation of ethos and the fact that your thoughts can be enough to cause you to be sinful, was new to the world. Perhaps since Christ came and taught, the world has been trying to understand and live by this new ethos, but in the last 50 plus years all that has been thrown out the window with a new understand of indulging in anything your hearts desires, ignore your conscious. That is why SJPII work on Theology of the Body is so important, because it goes against the tide of the world, the same with Humane Vita, a precursor to Theology of the Body.

In order to understand redemption, we must go back to the beginning. SJPII seems to emphasis this over and over. This may be a struggle for many because of what they believe or don’t believe about the Creation narrative. If you don’t believe in the beginning, that there were no first parents, no fall, no original sin, so Satan, then you cannot begin to grasp SJPII teachings about redemption. He interlocks the two so closely that you have to wrestle with both together. You cannot have one without the other. Without the beginning, it will be hard to believe in that original nature that is in our very foundation, buried underneath our inherited concupiscence.

We can never get back to the beginning because of the fall and the barrier that this created. That wall that stops us led to the 2 philosophies that SJPII discussed. Manichaeism blames the body, Freud blames the spirit. SJPII says that these urges, this concupiscence is not void to cross or a wall to stare at, but an opportunity to grow through temperance and self dominion. Do not cut yourself off entirely, do not indulge in it improperly, but practice restraint, allow it when it is appropriate, and through a proper experience learn what it truly means to be human.

I found this as a source for the above question about the creation story and thought I would share it.

The nine things that the Church teaches:

1. The creation of all things out of nothing by God at the beginning of time, including time

2. The special creation of man.

3. The creation of woman from man.

4. All of humanity is descended from an original pair of human beings - i.e. Adam and Eve.

5. Adam and Eve were created in an original state of holiness, justice, and immortality.

6. A divine command was laid upon man to prove his obedience to God [do not eat from the tree…]

7. The transgression of that Divine Command at the instigation of Satan.

8. The loss of the state of holiness, justice, and immortality of our 1st parents [because of their disobedience, Adam and Eve were kicked out of Paradise].

9. The promise of a future Redeemer, a Savior [Genesis 3:15, the protoevangelium, the first “good news”]. Reference: Denzinger: #2123

B. Humani Generis, Pope Pius XII, 1950

~ Adam is the first parent of all mankind (HG #37)

~ Genesis is history in a “true sense” (HG #38)

~ Genesis chapters 1-11 is not a myth. (HG #39)

Friday, May 09, 2014

Reflection on November 12, 1980

We shouldn’t be afraid of the erotic. We have seen earlier, it is a natural attraction that was there in the beginning and is a necessary part God gave us to promote procreation. If the conjugal act was not pleasurable or enjoyable, why would the two unite? There is so much importance in the unity of the two becoming one and what this points to, what it means to us, what it teaches us about being human and our relationship with God, He had to give us a reason to desire that unity. There are two extremes that I can see. You have a puritan sense; hide everything so that we cannot be tempted by our eyes and what we see today as expose everything for the false sense of freedom. As with most things, SJPII sees the answer somewhere in the middle. We need to experience this desire, but it cannot become a reductive desire or we have twisted it.

Both examples above miss the point. Someone without any control could look at a fully covered up puritan female and still desire her as an object or a holy person could see an erotic photo and see creations of God. It has to do with our heart and intention and what we do with that look. Christ seems to be calling us to work on discerning these erotic looks, the looks of desire, and sort those that are beneficial in understanding our relationship and human nature and those that are toxic, but I see it having more to do with our intention than the actual image.

You might think that the puritan would have an advantage, having never been exposed to certain images, but they have also never been given the chance to discern or learn for themselves how to discern. You wonder if they are worse off, a boy in the bubble type of sheltered life. SJPII would never condone such, I believe, because he places so much emphasis on the experiences we have and how those influence us on how we understand ourselves, our relationships with others and our relationship with God.

Not on the talk, but I was sitting and waiting for the bus the other day and saw someone with some very wild hair. My first thought was to judge them. It made me think of what Christ is teaching us here about a look and adultery in the heart. I thought the analysis might work as well with judging others, something I need to work on. Looking on others with a reducing desire is something I have gotten much better at controlling, but I caught myself judging this lady in the same way I used to look on someone with reducing desire. I did not go up to the person and be raid them, they had no idea I even looked at them, there was no outward sin that happened and they have no idea they were judged. But isn’t that exactly the leap that Christ was trying to make with the sin of adultery. The outward physical sin is one thing, but that isn’t where he wants us to start, that isn’t where we need to change, it is in the heart, in our thoughts, in our intentions. I have found myself thinking about that the last day or so and wondering how far I have come in regards to some improvements and how far I still have to go when it comes to others and how damaging our own thoughts are to ourselves, our view of the world, and those around us through the fact that it changes us.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Reflection on November 5, 1980

I am not familiar with Plato, but SJPII tries to give us a brief idea of what he saw as Eros. We have an inner power that draws us toward the good. I thought this sounded a lot like Aristotle’s Ethics. Here is the first line from that. “Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and pursuit, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim.” All of our actions have in mind some good. That is natural to us. We rely on our senses to begin because that is easier for us, they are tangible for our understanding. But these senses are not enough and lead us into the world of ideas, where Plato says we are aimed at. This longing for the good outside of our senses is what Eros (in what I can gather) means to Plato.

The modern shift has defined Eros as a look of sexual desire alone and I think you can read that SJPII believes the modern world sees Eros as a look of sexual desire that is reducing as well, as compared to a look of desire that is acceptable and in line with experiencing the other in a way that God envisioned. SJPII thinks Christ view on this look is much closer to Plato’s understanding. The look itself can be positive and we were made with our femininity and masculinity that included a desire that would lead to procreation and reproduction. It is the intentionality that twist this desire and if you look with a reductive intent, I think Plato would say, you are not looking with a goal towards the good.

I also heard an explanation that this comparison with Eros and Ethos goes like this. Eros is the look with desire. Ethos is the guide to determine whether that look is a good or evil, whether it is in line with the intent of God’s creation or is for the purpose of reducing the other to an object.

I think it is so interesting when you look at someone like Plato or Aristotle, those that were years before Christ, and yet their reasoning does not, at least here and many other things I have read about them, conflict with Christ teaching. It gives us confidence that we should not be afraid to explore philosophy and the study of reasoning. It is a science and if you are searching for truth, know that God developed it before we ever discovered it. Truth found in reasoning cannot contradict God, God cannot make something that contradicts with Him.

I wonder what Plato would think about the world today. The most interesting thing is that it is likely most that he wrote, he probably wouldn’t change, which is why it is still read and studied today. I think he would enjoy and agree with much more of what SJPII writes about the body and human nature than those that might claim to be educational descendants or students of Plato’s ideas.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Reflection on October 29, 1980

As I stated last time, I didn’t think Manichaeism was as much an issue as the degrading of the spirit is. SJPII moves to this type of interpretation in this talk. He focuses on Marx, Freud, and Nietzsche. I have to be honest, I don’t know much about their particular philosophies, so I can’t reflect on any one in particular, but I don’t think that is necessary. SJPII lumps together with an overall attitude that they each look to the heart or the spirit, the conscience of a person, they see that it is flawed, they see the concupiscence at work, and come to the conclusion that it is suspicious. They may have very good insights into the consciousness of humans, but where they fail in their philosophies is that they stop at the flawed consciousness of fallen man.

SJPII offers that they do not take the next step that is necessary for a more complete understanding; they do not take into account REDEMPTION. When you look at fallen man, you must take it in context of all that is there and at his foundation is the first man, before the fall, man in the beginning. That is an essential part of us, deeper than our sinfulness, deeper than any concupiscence. That is why SJPII took so much time in the beginning showing what we can learn and what we need to know about our first parents, about what God intended what He created, why and what occurred with the fall. You must understand the beginning before you can understand redemption, because Christ came to get us back to the beginning.

And far from a Christian idea is this sense of seeking out something more, something better. It is a natural part of us that we can feel. Just because the modern world, led by the 3 mentioned above and their designs, wants us to think whatever makes us feel good will make us happy, from before Christ people understood we were made for something more. I have not studied Aristotle in any depth, but what I know is that he understood humans seek what is beautiful. It more than just fulfilling urges, it is more, we were made for more, it is unnatural to settle for less. SJPII is saying the same thing, but saying that we now know more than Aristotle did, more has been revealed to us because of Christ, and that natural feeling is fulfilled through redemption, a redemption that bridges the gap created by the fall, that brings us back to God.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Reflection on October 22, 1980

In the last reflection, I had to go back and look, SJPII did mention the Scripture in regards to “if your hand makes you sin, cut it off”. That does seem very Manichaean. SJPII makes it very clear that this is not want Christ is saying. We are not supposed to blame the object of the sin for the sin in our hearts. When you look at a woman with reductive desire, you cannot blame the woman for that. (I wonder how that corresponds to pornography. You are never forced to view it and, as I reflected on last time, you cannot know her heart. If she has sin and blame, that is hers to deal with. I guess she cannot blame her sin on you looking on her with lust anymore than you can blame her for being there to look at.) But Christ is pointing to your heart as the place sin is forming and where we need to conquer it. Say pornography is an issue for you. The Manichaean interpretation of Christ would be to cut out your eyeballs so that you couldn’t look on lustful images anymore. SJPII would say that is a loophole around the issue that doesn’t take away the sin at all. You would still have your imagination and with that you could still lust after those images you remember and not have changed at all. Blaming the object (your eyes) is not the answer. You must change your heart, which doesn’t require you to cut your eyes out but to practice restraint in what you view.

When I think of the idea of Manichaean thought, and I am by no means an expert, but if you truly believed it, that your spirit was good and your body was bad, why wouldn’t you commit suicide as soon as you came to believe that. Maybe that is something that happens and I just don’t know enough about it, but that would seem to be the logical conclusion to a theology that felt the body was evil and an entrapment for the soul that is good.

I also wondered if focusing on Manichaean ideas is outdated or at least not as appropriate today as other times. It does sound very Puritan in some aspects, but with the sexual revolution, the body is not seen as evil but has been the object of worship. The soul has become, maybe not evil, but less important or old fashioned. We see a trend that people want to turn their bodies into temples (not in the Biblical sense of our bodies are Temples and should be treated as such). They become the sole focus of a person’s. We have already discussed what entertainment does to photos and images to make us think we need to look a certain way. Whatever the opposite of Manichaeism is, that is what we are dealing with more now. Maybe we will get to that.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Reflection on October 15, 1980

SJPII talks a lot about Manichaeism in the next two sections actually. What I have as an understanding is basically that they believe Spirit is good and material/body/world is evil and there is a constant struggle between the two. Here is a brief piece and link from the Catholic Encyclopedia. “Manichæism is a religion founded by the Persian Mani in the latter half of the third century. It purported to be the true synthesis of all the religious systems then known, and actually consisted of Zoroastrian Dualism, Babylonian folklore, Buddhist ethics, and some small and superficial, additions of Christian elements. As the theory of two eternal principles, good and evil, is predominant in this fusion of ideas and gives color to the whole, Manichæism is classified as a form of religious Dualism. It spread with extraordinary rapidity in both East and West and maintained a sporadic and intermittent existence in the West (Africa, Spain, France, North Italy, the Balkans) for a thousand years, but it flourished mainly in the land of its birth, (Mesopotamia, Babylonia, Turkestan) and even further East in Northern India, Western China, and Tibet, where, c. A.D. 1000, the bulk of the population professed its tenets and where it died out at an uncertain date.”

When I was reading this talk, all I could think about was affirmation of the other in your relationship. It is something I really struggle to do and really have not excuse for struggling. I have no idea when I missed that lesson in my life, but I don’t seemed to be wired to affirm or to think that when I do it feels awkward and forced or insincere, even if it is not. But reading this section motivates me to be better at it because of its importance.

Your spouse sees themselves as through their experiences. That includes the good and the bad. The bad ones have distorted their own understanding of who they are as a human. We are called to lift them out of that, help them view themselves as God sees them. They need to do that through experience. What they need is affirmations, genuine affirmations, to allow them to experience that communion in a way that they see and understand how God sees us and how we were meant to be.

Think about the person that never experience love in a real way. Our experience will always trump what we read or hear about the world and will always trump in influencing how we understand ourselves. Add into that, our experiences will trump other ways in which we will come to understand our relationship with God. God made us to come to know Him through communion with others and through our spouse in particular. How can a person who never experiences love in life come to understand God’s love for them? How can a spouse come to understand the love of God if they do not experience that in the relationship they open themselves up to the most? How can they come to trust God if they experience no trust in their spouse? God put a special emphasis on the spousal relationship because it is a unique and special way to come to understand God through experience, the way we learn and understand most clearly.

And when you think of the lack of love in the world and how people experience that and how that MUST affect people and their choices, we see why we are not in a position to judge others. We simply do not and cannot read their hearts or know THEIR experience and what that has done to them. When we judge another, we are basically grading their exam when they might have never taken the course or ever been given the knowledge. I really and truly believe this but find it so difficult to persuade people of this. You cannot talk to people without them thinking you are judging them. They automatically put up the walls and will not listen because they feel judged, when that is not what I want to do but just talk, just communicate, just tell them what I have learned.

Words I looked up.

Praxis - practice, as distinguished from theory; application or use, as of knowledge or skills.