Stand Still? I’m Wired to Fight or Run

faith reason


mankind, universe,

The  secret to authentic interior freedom goes against every fiber of  our being. The answer to every crisis, every threat we will face in our lives on earth, is to stand still and trust.

Easier said than done.

As sinful humans, we are wired to fight  or run from any threat to ourselves or those we love. Unfortunately,  if we  want to live in the Kingdom of Heaven as children of God, we soon learn this fight or flight reaction is not God’s way of defeating our enemies. Even though we are Catholics who have been confirmed by the Holy Spirit in His power, we often behave exactly as the Israelite slaves in the Old Testament.

Ye Of Little Faith

Time and time again, the Israelites had witnessed the power of God defeat their enemies in Egypt. However, as they faced the Red Sea and saw Pharaoh’s army draw near, “the Israelites looked back”.  (Exodus 14:10)

Big mistake. Lot’s wife looked back and remember what happened to her?

She turned to a pillar of rock salt.

What do we do when we are trying to leave our former lives of sin and learn to walk in the Light of Christ?

We look back with longing just like the Israelites to our days of comfortable slavery where  every detail of our lives were familiar to us. Of course,  as modern people who feel entitled to live in relative luxury, we complain even louder than the Israelites did in the desert.

These words from Exodus reveal not only the Israelite’s weakness every time they find themselves in a crisis, but our weakness as well. It is always a big mistake to look back when we are breaking out from our own slavery because our enemies are usually advancing on us.

10 As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites looked back, and there were the Egyptians advancing on them. In great fear the Israelites cried out to the Lord.11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, ‘Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” 13 But Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.” (Exodus 14:10-31)

The journey to freedom is never easy; it is hard to make a clean break from any state of bondage. Freedom does not come cheap. Like the Israelites, we often complain that life was much easier in slavery. The journey to  freedom is a journey into the unknown  where the greatest challenge is not only the hardship of living as free men and women of God, but the fact we must face all of our own fears. Just like the Israelites, we lack faith in the strength of God to keep us safe.

Be Still and Trust

What is the answer to every crisis, every threat to our freedom?

As Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid, stand firm…The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.” 

We only have to keep still and trust.  Standing still in the face of threats is the most difficult stance to maintain because everything in us wants to run back into the comfort of the life we are familiar with.  Every counselor understands this tendency to take two steps forward and one step back. We are afraid of freedom, afraid of living a life that is unknown.

Christians, true disciples of Jesus, are called to stand still  just like the Israelite in their journey through the desert, looking forward and trusting in God. If we can learn this lesson perhaps we will not have to journey for 40 years in our own purgative deserts like the Israelites did.

When we finally surrender to God’s ways, we will sing  and dance with Miriam  “Sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously”  Then we give all credit and praise to God, not to our own wit and schemes.


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39 thoughts on “Stand Still? I’m Wired to Fight or Run”

  1. What a great and very timely article! I have been thinking so much about this with what we all know is coming. We can clearly see the warnings and the times we find ourselves living through! When I find myself lacking faith, trust, love, forgiveness, courage- or any virtue, I ask Jesus for His and He never fails to give me what I need because this kind of prayer is always in His Will and Heart and will always be answered in His time! All any of us needs to do is ask as Jesus commanded us to do.
    “Ask and it shall be given to you.”

    1. melanie jean juneau

      Agreed- Doom and gloom prophets forget God IS ultimately in control; dire warnings are meant to turn us to God and His Love, not send us spiralling into fear and hiding

  2. Marion (Mael Muire)

    Perhaps the debate about waiting on the Lord in stillness and prayer vs. taking decisive action, might be moved toward resolution by means of the “Both . . . And” approach.

    Perhaps when confronted with some obstacle or some difficulty that appears to require decisive action, the faithful Catholic would immediately enter into himself or herself to pray and to seek the will of the Lord in the matter, even momentarily, if the matter seems urgent. (If such a Catholic is already in the habit of entering into himself to seek the Lord, to pray, to listen, often throughout every day, then to pause to seek the Lord’s will even for the few moments which the exigency of a very pressing matter would allow, is likely to prove very fruitful, indeed, compared with the prayer of the Christian who almost never seeks the Lord’s will during his or her day-to-day routine.)

    According to the Book of Judith, the Israelites were under siege by the fearsome Assyrian general Holofernes, and were facing dreadful lack of food and water. The elders of the people were proposing to surrender to their enemy unless the Lord delivered them in a set number of days, but the widow Judith, who was known to be a woman devoted to God, addressed the elders and told them, “What you propose is not right . . . I have a plan. Let me go down to the Assyrian general.” It was after the elders agreed to her proposal that Judith prostrated herself before the Lord, and made a lengthy prayer (Judith 9) to God, thanking Him for His benefits, and begging Him for the strength to accomplish the mighty deed she had in mind. Pretending to be a turncoat, Judith ingratiated herself with the enemy general, Holofernes, who was much charmed by her beauty. Thus able to find herself alone in his tent with him, and having plied him with much drink until he fell unconscious, Judith dispatched* Holofernes with his own sword, which threw his army into complete confusion. The people of Israel were saved.

    Judith may be said to be a woman much devoted to prayer, God-fearing, and often seeking the Lord. The book doesn’t say so, but it’s not hard to imagine that Judith prayed always. Such a person will enter into himself or herself to seek the Lord’s will often, and when an emergency presents itself, he or she will enter into prayer even momentarily seeking to know whether God wishes them to remain silent and still and to continue prayer, or instead whether God wishes them to take decisive action. In the case of Judith, action more decisive than hers is unimaginable.

    (*Judith’s killing of Holofernes would seem to meet the criteria for a guerilla action rather than a morally problematic assassination, since the general was a military figure – indeed, the senior most military figure – in an army currently engaged in warfare against her people, who had been losing the battle.)

    1. melanie jean juneau

      I would add Jesus’s example- He only said and did what He heard and saw His Father say and do. Pryer, listening, waiting watching then action only in obedience. As pope Francis once reminded us in one of His Wednesday Addresses, “God acts and we respond.” We do not act firt, then ask God to bless us.

      Thanks for this perfect reply which is well written, supported and thought out.

  3. Wonderful article, Melanie—Thank you so much.
    Standing firm does not necessarily mean standing still or “giving up,” but rather being resolute in the will of the Lord and allowing Him to work through you. Today, on the Feast of the Assumption, I think of how a lowly, humble girl “stood firm” by saying yes to God. She didn’t wish for her old life. She didn’t wish for another life. She didn’t run away. She quietly and lovingly served—-and through her came the most powerful and overwhelming revolution the world has ever seen.

    You remind me that I must always put Him first—-and not run off on a whim or full of my own ideas for what needs to be done! Thank you—–Cindy

    1. The Blessed Mother also stood at the Cross; she didn’t fall down or run away. Thus, keeping the Church standing firm. Maybe she pondered in her heart the words of our Lord “Unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit” (John 12:24). For the Church brought forth much, much fruit. She was also in the Upper Room awaiting our Lord’s return, keeping the Church strong and together.

      Another fine and deeply thought out article, Melanie. I marvel at how you can say so much in just a few words. What a gift, and what a refinement of your craft. Thank you!

    2. melanie jean juneau

      agreed- standing tall at the foot of the Cross is not falling down or sitting. Often we are busy, thinking we are building His Church, but we only get in the way of His desire to transform us into Love at the foot of the Cross-

    3. Jamey, I love that you brought Mary into this. She is so important and does so much for us as our Mother! To help us to stand with her Son, with Truth and with the Church! Amen!

  4. “The answer to every crisis, every threat we will face in our lives on earth, is to stand still and trust.” This is so very wrong !

    Fight or flee … these are evolutionary survival skills from the first person who achieved behavioral normalcy about 65,000 years ago. This response is based on our adrenal glands which secrete hormones and are geared to the survival of our species. To stand sill, firm and trust betrays our nature as primates. Let me give one of thousands of examples from history and culture.

    The Shoah…people, Christians, Catholics, Hindiis, atheists, the world stood firm while an estimated 6 to 20 million Jews and others were slaughtered, killed and disappeared. Should we have stood firm, still and quiet and trusted in God while our brothers and sisters were massacred? What about Action T-4 …should we have stood firm and trusted while hundreds of thousands of disabled were killed? NO, we were called to fight the predator to preserve the species. We failed because standing firm and trust betrayed out human nature and there was unnecessary brutal death? What about religions silence in Rwanda and Dafur? Stand firm, trust and God and all will be ok. A creator imbued fight or flight in our DNA for a reason….not standing firm.

    Also your Moses story and the Exodus is a myth. From the oldest Jewish newspaper: Haaretz!

    “The reality is that there is no evidence whatsoever that the Jews were ever enslaved in Egypt. Yes, there’s the story contained within the bible itself, but that’s not a remotely historically admissible source. I’m talking about real proof; archeological evidence, state records and primary sources. Of these, nothing exists.

    read more:

    “It is hard to believe that 600,000 families (which would mean about two million people) crossed the entire Sinai without leaving one shard of pottery (the archeologist’s best friend) with Hebrew writing on it. It is remarkable that Egyptian records make no mention of the sudden migration of what would have been nearly a quarter of their population, nor has any evidence been found for any of the expected effects of such an exodus; such as economic downturn or labor shortages. Furthermore, there is no evidence in Israel that shows a sudden influx of people from another culture at that time. No rapid departure from traditional pottery has been seen, no record or story of a surge in population.

    In fact, there’s absolutely no more evidence to suggest that the story is true than there is in support of any of the Arab world’s conspiracy theories and tall tales about Jews.

    read more:

    You cannot based standing firm and trust in God based upon a mythological story; you must derived human action from human nature which a creator allowed to evolve. We are called to take action to help and save all marginalized and oppressed peoples…that was Christ’s message. To stand and trust betrays our humanity, others and God, The Source! We are called to fight oppression!

    1. melane jean juneau

      Your response is well written, well researched with excellent logic deductions. Your replyillustrate the difference between man’s and God’s methods.

    2. I am very confused at your response. Are you saying that God would have us stand firm and place all trust in him while 6-20 million religious believers (our elder brothers and sisters) were slaughtered during the Shoah? Are you saying that these are God’s methods?

    3. melanie jean juneau

      In the ” Mose’s myths”, Moses acted when commanded- left his hiding place in the desert, confronted pharaoh and delivered messages even though he stuttered and had to be compelled to act, convinced and organized countless Israelites to leave their homes….. yet when there was no option but to capitulate or Stand Firm and trust when commanded- Moses taught generations of God’s people to defy natural wisdom and obey and trust. sometimes it has meant death on earth, but it is still eternal deliverance.

    4. “The answer to every crisis, every threat we will face in our lives on earth, is to stand still and trust.” 

      The difficulty with this all-encompassing statement is that it is so broad, so wide in scope, that it doesn’t allow for a single qualifier or exception. I think you would have been better served if you would have taken a more nuanced approach to express an important point of view about being resolute in a basic trust of God in all thing, at all times. 

      Lee me offer one example of how we must use the grace of spiritual discernment to make a prudential judgement, which may also help test the validity of the above quoted statement.

      If a stranger came up to you and grabbed your youngest child out of your arms and tried to run away, would it be morally and ethically permissible to fight off the attacker in whatever way necessary to dispel the THREAT and CRISIS and rescue the child that you are responsible for to God? Or, should you stand still and trust and let that stranger take your child? I think most Christians would be standing on solid moral grounds to actively defend the innocent, in a measured response, for Justice sake. 

      Everyday, we Christians face circumstances and situations that challange us to properly discern how to morally respond in a way that is pleasing to Almighty God. Granted, not an easy thing to do. When should we turn the other cheek or when to defend ourselves, our brothers and sisters who are weak, vulnerable, attacked or live on the margins? There are no simple, general, cut and dry answers here. We find guidance and form our consciences by reading Scripture, the teachings of the Church and through much prayer and reflection in order to do His Will, not ours.

    5. melanie jean juneau

      Thank you for the well-written, balanced insights. In my defense, this article is not all-encompassing apologetics but an attempt to challenge modern man’s belief in self- sufficiency. You are correct; I should have qualified my statement.
      to prevent misunderstandings.

    6. melanie jean juneau

      p.s. My main premise was on our sinful desire to look back with longing to our old lives of slavery rather than allowing God to transform us int a new poeple- people of the Light, children of our Heavenly Father.

    7. “It is always a big mistake to look back when we are breaking out from our own slavery because our enemies are usually advancing on us.”

      Again, its when you use a broad and definitve word like “always” in the above quoted statement that you derail or at the very least mitigate the validity or strength of your main point, no matter how worthy it may be about man’s propensity towards self-sufficiency . 

      I am both a psychologist and a religious and I can emphatically state that “looking back” at our slavery or inclinations to sin is an integral and necessary part of the discernment process of discovering the impediments that keep us from the freedom to truly know and follow Christ. 

      So, while I can agree in principle that we must let go of our old ways of life, if we are to be transformed in Christ, part of this process of growth and renewal is through a purgation, which includes a vision of that which binds us to our past – our bondage to sinfulness and concupiscence. Only with the help of grace can we enter there, to seek and destroy all in us that is not God in order to go out and meet Him where He is.  To go from darkness into the Light and to remain with Him in a Loving embrace for all eternity.

    8. melanie jean juneau

      Agreed- Suffering was my purgation and was necessary to bring me to the point where I realized I cannot save myself. Most of us have to hit bottom , become desperate to change,The only way I have been able to uncover hidden generational roots and chains is through Divine intervention AND a spiritual director as well as a Catholic psychiatrist because I am blind without a guide. Even though my adult mind desires freedom, deeper levels in my subconscious are afraid to let go of the familiar, let go of control and surrender.

    9. Yes, Melenie, because God Loves us so and desires our freedom, seeing that we are blinded and held captive by certain deep, cyclical attitudes, biases, approaches, etc.  that are shielding our eyes, it takes a Divine intervention of such magnitude to stop us dead in our tracks, humble us and bring us to our knees. 

      Surely the greatest impediment to growth in the spiritual life, that holds us back from the freedom to love God is self-love. The seeret, persistent and often overwhelming first inner movement to worship the self (ego), to serve self, to protect, to advance it’s own agenda, etc., leads to a forgetting of God, who demands that He is to be our first love and attention. The consequence of this prideful sin of loving self first instead of God gives rise to a whole host of spiritual and psychological distress (controlling and obsessive behaviors, paralyzing fears, etc.). Debilitating faults and sinful habits of secret pride and self-love can only be uncovered and healed with the Grace of God and the help of others. 

      It has been my experience over 35 years giving spiritual direction that those who make the greatest progress are those who’s faith and trust in God is deep and abiding and at each small step along the way, with steady resiliency, continues to say ” Yes Lord, here I am, I have come to do YOUR Will.”

    10. melanie jean juneau

      I cannot stop smiling. i fact, I’m almost bursting with joy because it is so rare to stumble across someone who really understands how long the process is let go of self, pride and the resulting tangle of our inner mess. So many people say, “You’re STILL seeing ‘Daniel’ for help?”

      You have directed people for 35 years and I have been directed for almost as long- slowly seeing the fruits as I learn how to choose to live in my deepest spirit, connected to His love, connected to Life, to joy and Light rather than living in my mind, pride or wounded emotions.

      Still grinning over here

    11. Thanks be to God that He continues to bless you with an abundance of the foundational grace of self-knowledge, which is the doorway to true humility. And what is humility, but simply knowing the truth about ourselves in relation to God. Whereas pride is a false, elevated opinion powered by inordinate self-love.

      One virtue that is essential to the long precess of growth in the spiritual life is patience. We both know for a fact that God is infinitely patient with us. So that one is covered. That leaves the soul and it’s director to exercise the same patience and fortitude over the long and different slog as we meet and overcome each inner challenge or battle, to heal derp woundedness, one small step at a time. 

      However, it has also been my experience that along with the Light of the Holy Spirit, and the genuine willingness and openness of a soul to let go of self-defeating prideful habits, and with a sincere desire to grow in grace and reflect Christ in spirit, ultimately reaching infused contemplation and union with the Beloved, a learned, experienced guide or director is absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, spiritual direction snd counseling, at some point, can become the blind leading the blind and the soul plateaus and stops making real progress. Unknowingly, the director often take a the soul to the heights that he or she personally understands or has experienced, which puts limits on the directees own growth. This happens quite often and it is sad to see, since God and the soul desire so much more. 

      Melanie, I will keep you in my poor prayers. God bless you and your family!

    12. melanie jean juneau

      YES, I have experienced seasons of the blind leading the blind. I just keep dipping one toe into His ocean of Love. Flashes of infused contemplation are just a tease, a taste, urging me to keep open and humble by longing form full union. .thank the Lord that God is God and directors are not

    13. Many directors lose sight of the fact that God Himself is the Principal Director of the soul. Their job is to respect this ralationship and seek to be a simple instrument or servant of the individualized and custom path that is specifically designed by God to bring the soul to a deep experience of Himself. God’s plan, not man’s or a director’s plan. 

      Speaking about blindness: Rare is the director who can discern the difference between spiritual sloth or the effects of the Dark Night of the Soul and then offer the proper and most profitable way for the soul to act therein.

      O. Living Flame of Love!  Yes, Melanie, these “flashes” of infused contemplation are a genuine foretaste, to encourage us and keep going forward, not the usual, created comsolation that we feel in our senses, but a pure Spirit to spirit contact first, that then radiates upward to light up our senses like a bright incandescent light bulb. We are truly on fire with the Holy Spirit, an experienced like never before. This “spiritual” experience, this pure touch of the Divine, cannot be manufactured or duplicated by man’s own efforts or by ones sensible “feelings”. 

      This is the goal of the spiritual life: To thoroughly prepare ourselves by cooperating with Grace, through a purgative and illumnative process, to reach a place and proper state, to enter the innermost room of the Castle, and to be united to our Beloved there in a Living embrace of Eternal Love.

    14. melanie jean juneau

      I might have to copy and paste this perfect explanation of pure spirit to Spirit contact because once again I am beaming. God surprises me, the switch from darkness to light, in my deepest core, happens in a snap of a finger, out of the blue, out of my control, pure gift. Love your apt description that a touch from the Divine radiates upwards, lighting my face, my senses with a fire, with a joy which sweeps away mere feelings

    15. You are beaming because you intuitively “know” without knowing in an intellectual way or by simple use of “feelings” or senses that what I am sharing is the truth. However, for those who have not yet been blessed with touches of genuine infused contemplation and have not yet experienced this deep and “substantial” touch of the Living Flame of Love, Spirit to spirit, no explanation or description can come close to the actual experience. 

      While touches of infused contemplation is certainly a pure gift from God these touches are not an end in themselves. A long treatises on active and/or infused contemplation would be useful here, but not practical in a combox. Suffice it to say that the entire process is geared to slowly woo the soul from the ordinary use of the faculties (intellect, memory and will) in the active use of prayer and meditation and also to purify, put into order and pacify the senses so the once quieted, the Spirit can speak “simply” to the soul, without words, peacefully, without multiplicity, and impart Loving Wisdom leading to a transformational spiritual experience and union.

      “Be still, and know that I am God!”  (Psalm 46:10)

    16. melanie jean juneau

      ahhh- so God is weaning us slowly from our egocentricity with these touches of joy, of infused contemplation- Living Flame of Love- now there is a great phrase to savour- very apt.

      Now I am bubbling with mirth; what a relief that theses experiences are not an end in themselves but union with Him is- anything less than the real deal would be so disappointing.

      I crave the moment when I no longer perceive the world and others like I am the centre of the universe, but rather simply in Him.

      – p.s. Psalm 46 :10 Always pops into my mind

    17. Well, there you have it, the fundemental inner conflict between serving two masters, ourselves or God. We are born into selfishness. We believe and feel that we are the center of the universe. So, naturally, our inner movements work overtime to serve, protect and promote ourselves first and foremost. Purgation and Illumination are the principal processes applied to the soul by a Loving God to correct, purify and heal the soul of the deadly sins of inordinate self-love and pride, impediments that keeps us from the enjoyment of Him in full union.

      To experience the touches of the Living Flame of Love is part of this process of transforming the first movements of the soul from being self-centered to becoming Christ-centered. It is only when the image of Christ is lovingly snd sufficiently reflected in the soul, that union can take place.

      “Jesus answered, and said to him: If any one love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him.”  John 14:23

      So what holds so many souls back from making quick and steady progress in the spiritual life? There are the usual suspects: psychological impairments, generational cycles, strong habitual movements toward all things “self”, pride, controlling and other errant behaviors, bad or insufficient direction, etc., but the greatest threat to growth is the consequence of a souls own free choice. The Lord can and does provide the means, but He cannot force our cooperation or its level along the way. Grace can and will overcome any obstacle, at every step, if WE are willing to do our part and overcome our reticence and stubbornness, let go or deny our own will or prior ways and say “yes” to God, “yes” to change in our live. Job number one of a good director is to continually challenge the soul under his care to identify selfish habits of stubbormess, making excuses, defensiveness or any other self imposed barriers that serve to impede or slow the process from moving forward. It is about taking responsibility and holding ourselves fully accountable for our actions before God (repentance), with faith and trust in His Mercy and forgiveness as we inch closer and closer towards Him.

    18. melanie jean juneau

      It is thrilling to read your comments because you articulate the basics of spirituality so succinctly and in the power of His Spirit. This is the first time I have read wisdom which pierces my heart, soul and spirit from someone steeped in psychology And traditional spirituality. Thank you for taking so much time. Your words are encouraging, filled with life, like drinking pure joy. I am grateful.

    19. Please know, my dear sister in Christ, that I am ordinarily loath to make even a single comment on any blog whatsoever. But in this case, I made an exception. I felt very strongly that I should reach out and “touch”, that I was called to offer words “in Spirit and in Truth” to be an encouragement to you personally as you walk along the straight and narrow path. 

      While I do speak with a certain authority, it does not emanate from my own truth or wisdom, since I absolutely possess none of them myself. From whatever spiritual discernment that I do speak, it is powered and informed, with the help of Grace, because I have scaled the heights of Mount Carmel and I can look down and clearly view the valley below.

      If I have been useful to God and you, by sharing just a few bits of deeper Wisdom and hidden Truth, that in turn produces Joy and ultimately serve to assist you in growing ever closer to Him, then I am truly and eternally blessed. What more could I ever ask for?

    20. melanie jean juneau

      Twenty-five years ago, I was disillusioned and worn out by hitting a thick wall, unable to move closer to God. For many years. I was surviving on very little water and very little bread

      Then bang, surprise; God turned everything around.

      First I sought spiritual direction and practical help for personal issues.. Then my husband discovered a book during a retreat at the Trappist Monastery in Oka, Quebec which has been our inspiration for years – Guidelines to Mystical Prayer by a Carmelite, Ruth Burrows. She wrote about two fellow nuns who knew they no longer lived, but Christ lived in them.

      Your insights have had the same effect as that little book. Once again I am thrilled, encouraged and strengthened. Rather than burdened and discouraged, I see the goal, the end which is union with God. It is not a fairy tale, not only for the saints of old. God has revealed once again His path for me <3

      Thank you for making an exception by commenting- I am moved to tears of gratitude.

    21. Well, I can see that any comment or deep theological, traditional Carmelite analysis that I could offer on the basic “theory” of “lights in” or “lights off” in mystical prayer put forth by Sr. Ruth Burrows, O.C.D. would be a sensitive area to tread, no matter how lightly. I understand how difficult it is to put into words or create intellectual concepts or understanding when regulated to using lowly earthy terms in an attempt to describe that which properly belongs to a deeper realm – the spirit. However, I will say that I believe her theory is novel and a superficial one at best and in the end limiting. It is also without credible citation from any tradional Carmelite source. Simply put, the reality of true Carmelite mysticism goes much, much deeper. It’s okay if you disagree!  🙂

      Melanie, you have rounded the turn and are headed down the backstretch toward the finish line. With God’s help, you can make it! Just a few general words of advise. Be still interiorly. Simplify your prayer life, if you haven’t already. Listen to the Word that speaks in you like a quiet, whispering breeze and follow. Die to “self”. All for God, no-thing for you, save union with Him.  

      Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” Luke 9:23-24

    22. melanie jean juneau

      laughing response – but of course I agree about Sr. Ruth Burrows ; your brief comments hint at so much more, a deeper knowledge and wisdom which she never even refers to. I only read her book on mystical prayer once, but it was a tool God used to light a flame of joy when I realized union was possible today. For years, all it took was a passing memory of this one truth to rekindle joy again.

      tearful understanding- I have rounded the turn.?- smile- My mind is mush in front of Him, wordless wonder – There is simply an expansive experience of opening my core to Him, to joy, to blinding light… I now understand I can be at peace with this – no striving…He acts first, no worries because I simply wait …smile- waiting till He whispers…so easy when you explain- relax where I am, but OBEY the Word I hear. I am writing out that verse from Luke to put in my kitchen.

      Words heard 20 years ago-
      “You thought you were building My Kingdom with all your frantic work,

      but you were actually hindering My Kingdom, the true work of My Spirit.
      All I want

      All I need
      is for you to stand at the foot of MY Son’s Cross.
      Allow the Flames of His Love to pierce you,
      transforming you into His presence on earth.”

      thank you once again

    23. “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27;14

      Yes. Melanie, you need to stand quietly at the foot of the cross like our Blessed Mother and wait for our Lord to speak His Word in you. This Word is like a flaming ember, a Living Flame of Love that touches, purifies and unites your soul, at its deepest level, to its God. 

      It beings me great joy to hear that you are choosing to open not only your heart and mind, but your whole being to the inner movements of Almighty God within. This is no small thing. This willingness to wait patiently for God to act first, with inner stillness and peacefulness is an essential characteristic of this state. No anxiety, multiplicity or forced activity in prayer. Just stand in silence, unmoved, in loving adoration – keeping vigil with our Crucified Lord during the long, lonely nights. You gaze lovingly at Him as His Loving gaze penetrates, touches and enlivens you at the very ground of your being. 

      It is clear to me that you are on the right course, however, you are also at a point that you would do well to avail yourself of a learned AND experienced spiritual guide. You do need a spiritual “tune up” or a little snip-snip here, snip-snip there to put everything in its proper place. You are just a bit all over the place in your understanding of the basics of Carmelite mystical theology, philosophy, psychological concepts and how they relate to the mystical life and/or how to better express what you experience – all through no fault of your own. You just need a little interior tidying up. 🙂

      So in closing, I realize that asking you to find a director who can properly guide you is like finding a needle in a haystack. But it is definitely worth a try if you sincerely desire to continue successfully down the straight and narrow road that leads to Eternal Life. 

      My thoughts and prayers go with you…

    24. melanie jean juneau

      Note to self, “Dah ! ” I have never even considered steeping myself in Carmelite spirituality. I just spent an hour looking at what is available online and stumbled across scads of information, essays, even podcasts to listen to, all geared to modern man. My only exposure to Carmelite spirituality has been drowning in the archaic language and complex sentences in the original classics.

      Smiling- so much flub in my life, bad habits- after mothering nine children and helping run a small family farm, I have indulged in reading and writing drivel. Snip, snip…God will provide a trained director, now I even know to ask .

      you are GOOOOD

    25. God is so GOOOOD to us! One word of caution, Melanie, as you begin to steep yourself in Carmelite spirituality. You should know that there is a reason that the original writers of these classics wrote in the manner that they did, with most having a background in Scholasticism and Thomism. The “archaic” language and “complex” sentences are evidence that they showed great care to be precise and exacting, as they attempted to express deep metaphysical concepts to the logical mind. To those who lack a background or study of the original theology of Carmelite mysticism and the philosophical principles that anchored them, confusion and misunderstanding is a very common and ordinary experience. This is particularly true, today, as many “experts” try to interpret classic Carmelite thought with a “modern” philosophical and critical method that wholly discards and replaces natural law and theology, with modern exegesis that essentially renders the original thought and it’s effectiveness neutered and meaningless. Some of these commentaries and reflections that I hear and read would make St. John of the Cross turn over in his grave.  🙁

      This is why I advise you to not only begin to study Carmelite spirituality on your own, but unless you put yourself under experienced direction, you can easily begin to create your own “theories” about your state, based on your OWN discernments. Being your own director is one of the most dangerous activities you could undertake. We are so easily fooled, when we seek to follow only our own counsel. 

      Lastly, when I mention attempting to find an “experienced” director, I am not speaking about someone who just has many overall years under their belt or guides ordinary souls. You need to find someone who has GREATER and HIGHER spiritual experience than you do presently, preferably someone who already experiences infused contemplation and knows, by personal experience, how to help you get there. If not, then it will be more of the blind leading the blind. Choose wisely, you don’t have time to waste. 

    26. melanie jean juneau

      You just reminded me why I quit reading Carmelite classics decades ago. Trying to figure out who I was and where I was in the spiritual scheme of things was an exercise in futility. Then for years and years, when Light came in, all I saw was the darkness leaving.

      So yes, self-direction or reading shallow interpretations of spirituality would be a disaster. I tend to forget the information on the internet is not all reliable, nothing like searching a library in a retreat centre. I.also understand poor direction is worse than none. I refused to play games with myself years ago.God will have to point the way to the right person.

      Of course, you know St. Teresa herself had a great sense of humour and wit…self- deprecating humour puts everything in perspective for me.

      My favorite quotes
      From silly devotions and sour-faced saints, good Lord, deliver us!
      Thank God for the things that I do not own.
      There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered prayers
      If this is the way You treat Your friends, no wonder You have so few

      thanks for your generosity- good thing you answered this last one because i could have flown off on a tangent till God hit me over the head

  5. Terrific article, and such a needed insight right now in our culture. A lot of Christians are contemplating a “strategic retreat” from the culture war, as seen in Rod Dreher’s proposed “Benedict Option” and the conversation surrounding it ( Your article speaks to the very important other side of that argument, that as people of faith we can (and must) stand our ground and trust that no matter how bleak our culture appears to us, God remains in control and has our backs.

    1. melanie jean juneau

      Instead of retreating from modern culture, ..”as people of faith we can (and must) stand our ground and trust that no matter how bleak our culture appears to us, God remains in control and has our backs.” Terrific insights. While I focused on standing still, you zeroed in on the result of trusting in the Almighty.

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