A Prayer Journal
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013
112 pp., $18.00
Praying and Writing with Flannery O'Connor
Perhaps faith is the process while hope is the prospect. Or, faith is the promise while hope is its realization.
But all my requests seem to melt down to one for grace—that supernatural grace that does what ever it does.
Grace can be experienced but never explained. We can observe the accomplishment of God's grace but we cannot recognize its cause. Grace is God's accomplishing his will when we can recognize no cause/effect relationship. There might not even be a cause other than God himself. Being as he is the Uncaused Cause, why can he not create effect without any cause other than his will? God spoke and the world became. God speaks and things happen.
No one can be an atheist who does not know all things. Only God is an atheist. The devil is the greatest believer & he has his reasons.
The only person who can assert with validity that there is no God is one who knows everything there is to know—and such a being is God. For all such a person knows, God is hidden or apparent in all the millions of things he does not know. He can acknowledge he has not, in fact, found God, but he cannot charge God is not there to be found.
We who have found God do not know everything there is to know (hardly!), but we do know God and that God is everything there is to know. In him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. We will never know everything there is to know about God because the finite can never comprehend the infinite. But the God who is Everything will give us the things we need for each day. So, we can come to know everything we need to know.
The intellectual & artistic delights God gives us are visions & like visions we pay for them, & the thirst for the vision doesn't necessarily carry with it a thirst for the attendant suffering. Looking back I have suffered, not my share, but enough to call it that but there's a terrific balance due.
The vision meant here is not a serendipitous "bright idea" but a soul-wrenching experience that takes its toll on the one who receives it. And it is a thing given and not sought. Almost anyone would enjoy being given a vision, but few are willing to pay the cost of receiving one. While suffering a vision is not essentially a negative thing, it is decidedly heavy and serious. A vision changes the one who experiences it. Seeing a vision is merely the means, but the product is experience.
The New Testament does not so much warn that the faithful follower of Christ will, as a matter of fact, "suffer" as it advises he must as a matter of necessity. Render "suffer" as experience (as an active verb). Suffering is not unavoidable because inevitable but desired because intended. It occurs not to him but in him, and it changes him. If it is truly experienced, he will never again be the same. It may be overly facile as a slogan, but runners learn "no pain, no gain."
To maintain any thread in the novel there must be a view of the world behind it & the most important single item under this view of world is the conception of love—divine, natural & perverted. It is probably possible to say that when a view of love is present—a broad enough view—no more need be added to make the world view.
The love God gives to a brother and sister in Christ for each other participates in the love God is. He who is loveness itself bestows the love he is upon two in order to love each other. There is a continuity between divine and human love.
Divine desire … is outside of man and capable of lifting him up to itself. Man's desire for God is bedded in his unconscious & seeks to satisfy itself in physical possession of another human. This necessarily is a passing, fading attachment in its sensuous aspects since it is a poor substitute for what the unconscious is after. The more conscious the desire for God becomes, the more successful union with another becomes because the intelligence realizes the relation in its relation to a grater desire & if this intelligence is in both parties, the motive power in the desire for God becomes double & gains in becoming God-like. The modern man isolated from faith, from raising his desire for God into a conscious desire, is sunk into the position of seeing physical love as an end in itself.
Having been created in the image of God, it is not surprising that a person senses in himself an existential urge or propensity toward God, whether or not he is conscious of its being God who is longed for. The desire for God is within man, but it originated from without. It was implanted by the Creator. When the urge to relate or connect remains on the physical level, it is transitory and easily passes from one body to another body. It is not a person who is sought but a body, almost any body will do. When it is the body that is craved, there is no interest in the soul. The person becomes devalued to a thing. He or she is no longer a subject to be experienced but an object to be used.