From a Journal
13 XI 83. "The remedy is familiar intercourse with Jesus." So Father Eugene Boylan in Difficulties in Mental Prayer. And here an example of the disease: I have just read in Father Boylan's book that "desire is automatic and,therefore, outside the control of the will; it can never be a sin in itself. There can be no sin until the intellect recognizes the sinful nature of the object, and the will desires it." I walk into the living room to find out what M is watching on TV. The image is blurred and it is difficult to see. When a commercial comes on, I ask if I could flip through some other channels, and do so. I stop where I see a pretty girl. It is a movie I have seen before, a poor movie but one which shows a great deal of the pretty girl. I linger in front of the set. The passage I have just quoted comes back to me. I linger still. In desperation I ask M, "You'd rather watch the other station than this?" She says yes she would. I switch back to the original channel and while looking at the foggy image regret that I am not still looking at the girl in the movie. I know quite well what I would be watching if I were alone. Salve me.
16 XI 83. If you should come first with me, why haven't I written to you for two days? Perhaps because I disagreed or disliked some of the things Father Boylan said about prayer, I felt discouraged. Perhaps I was running away from you, though, in the panic I feel, I should be running to you - or rather, should allow you to share my panic, which I'm sure you do whether I allow you to or not. But little benefit do I get from your pain, unless I welcome it and you. Not welcome pain in itself, but the partaking with you of pain, thus making holy what is evil. My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me - let me never say that, whatever I feel, unless you crucify me with you, for I know it is I who forsake you.
But why speak of crucifixion, or even pain, when all I feel is panic: hot flashes, tense shoulders and arms, cold feet and hands, and fear - the running away mood?
What I really want, of course, is for you to take away these feelings: then, you can be sure, I won't bother you. All's well that ends well, forgive and forget. Well, then, I do ask you to remove my panic....
21 XI 83. I see how far I am from you, since I only ask of you and never give you anything in return. Please save me from myself.
You already know I shall act shamefully on Wednesday. At least my sins have no glory in them. The issue on Wednesday will be clear: me against you. Will I, as I do often, take the wide path? Already I can only voice my prayers, not really wanting to obey you.
26 XI 83. "I believe, O my God, that poverty is better than riches, pain better than pleasure, obscurity and contempt than name, and ignominy and reproach than honor. My Lord, I do not ask Thee to bring these trials on me, for I know not if I could face them; but at least, O Lord, whether I be in prosperity or adversity, I will believe that it is as I have said." How far, Lord, I am from praying thus, and how greatly I fear my trials. Save me.
"Spite of fears, pride rules my will." I could use some of that.
27 XI 83. "Suffering is the key to this world of mystification in which man lives since he lost his Paradise." So your friend Ronald Knox. Please help me to accept this truth. Knox: "The motives which dictate our actions from day to day are very largely worldly ones; the crucifix does not dominate our lives; it is only an occasional embarrassment." Knox: "You cannot despise yourself more thoroghly than by forgetting yourself altogether."
13 XII 83. Please let me accept you and all you give me. I know you have graced me with many gifts which I do not properly thank you for. Let me, then, accept gladly the little pain that comes to me. Probably I bring it on myself; let me then cheerfully carry it.
Let me suffer with you. Don't let me deny you. You know I pray to you to take my pain away. My prayer is always selfish. I do not want pain though I ask for it. Very well then: please remove my little sufferings. Let me not be anxious. Give me peace. But if I am not to have these, help me to accept.
I am so selfish.
Allow me to write to you daily. You know I think of you - at least a little - every day; but I don't write - even when I have time - because I have nothing (or always the same thing) to say. Literary conscience keeps me quiet. But I suppose you cannot be bored. I could complain to you till I die and you would listen (though disappointed). There is nothing so boring as two lovers in private. Therefore I shall be boring, illiterate, petty, repetitve, annoying, cloying, whining - in a word unreadable - in order to write to you often, with no reader over my shoulder: without even myself reading what I write to you. O God, please let me think always of you.
"...a hero in this world; - but what would they have called him in the next?" Melville, White-Jacket, chap. 74.
14 XII 83. "Seek first God's kingdom, then everything will be given you." But the mind finds it easier to think of many other things instead of you. I pray for health, and imagine what I would say to a doctor. I pray not to worry about money, and wonder how I should invest next. I pray to get away from myself, and my mind dwells on the concerns of my job. You must help me to forget myself and think about you only.
15 XII 83. Another round of tension and anxiety, The solution, I read, is to face, accept, float, and let time pass - and I believe it. But to do it - Lord, I believe, help my my unbelief! I suppose - I know - I lack patience and have an abundance of fear. I shall not ask you to relieve my tension and anxiety, but to help me to face, accept, etc. Will you give me this Christmas present?
28 XII 83. On Friday, I went to the doctor, who pronounced me in good health. Is that why I haven't gotten around to writing to you? Probably: I am a foul-weather friend.
Father O emphasized in his homily today that you felt 2000 years ago what many feel today: pain, anxiety, weakness, etc. This must be true, and if we today are your body, then you must feel today what we feel. To me this implies: 1) You feel our sorrows, and 2) We force you to become sin. The corollaries are not that you feel our happiness but that we feel our happiness in you, and not that we enable you to do good works but that our good works are done in you.