Falling in Love wtih God: Integration and Transformation


Published on


Published in: Spiritual
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide
  • What do we mean by love mysticism?
  • Ribalta, Prado. San Juan and Cristo embrace
  • Problematic Nature of the Imagery: God Imago and Sexual Orientation The soul is the “Bride” regardless of the person’s gender or sexual orientation The Word, Christ is always the Bridegroom. For men, this is fraught with various problems… To participate in this symbolism and erotic attachment to God, a man has to disidentify with his male gender role, and adopt a female gender role. He has to relinquish dominance and his initiating gender roles in sexual imagery. Bernard and Aelred were pretty much known to be gay monks. Bernard, plays off the presumed sexual experience of the men he is addressing, both gay and straight, to help them integrate their erotic energies into their contemplative life. In my own experience, gay men are much more likely to experience various forms of love mysticism, (rather than bridal mysticism) because Jesus as a man, matches their love object. They will not have have homophobic fears related to spontaneous fantasies of Jesus as their lover and all that might entail. Likewise, heterosexual women. For women, though, there are many places in Bernard’s texts, for instance, that really are rooted in male sexual experience and not female. For instance, one male pointed out to me in one of these sermons in which Bernard describes the Kiss of the Mouth immediately resulting in engorged breasts dripping milk, that these breasts were a disguised penis. For men, a kiss may result immediately in an erection. Women’s sexual response is somewhat different, she may feel her breasts tingle, but not match this male description. However, Bernard here, is engaged in cross gender metaphors, in which the breasts filling with milk, represent symbolically the apostolic fruitfulness of the contemplation. The kiss is fruitful in the way the monk as a male mother will feed (his/her) children in preaching or spiritual direction or other apostolic work. John Dunne resolves this problem of gender identification and love object with ayasofia, a feminine presence of God. So he maintains his masculine identification and recognizes the way only a feminine image of God brings him peace and also merges with his female close friend. She is also an image of the Divine Feminine. The medieval period had a much broader and more fluid play of gender imagery and identification culturally than became true in the post reformation period. John the Beloved Disciple is portrayed in art usually as very effeminate and steriogtypically gay. His leaning on the breast of Christ at the last supper becomes an easily adapted model for homoerotic love mysticism without requiring cross dressing so to speak to enter the imagery. There is also a strong tradition in the medieval period of men creating a feminine divine love object. Ie Francis of Assisi, lady poverty, the troubadors are projected Lady Love as feminine, and there are many texts in which there is considerable gender sliding, providing a feminine love object. There is also a great deal of marian devotion which often ends up in an idealized maternal relationship. However, when Mary’s symbolism gets split off from the sexuality of the Great Mother, and the European Goddess image, it is repressed in imagination because it is just too oedipal to entertain. Sophia or Lady Wisdom, or Lady Charity, all become personifications that work somewhat better. Lesbian women are the ones who are left completely out in the cold with this imagery. For their erotic desires require a God image that is feminine.
  • Soul is: Pulled Lazarus: weeps and prays longing for Christ Led Martha server, preaches, enjoys friendship Incarnation Rapt Mary beauty of her face,, encounter with God in Contemplation Heavenly Kiss (eschatological)
  • Falling in Love wtih God: Integration and Transformation

    1. 1. Falling in Love with God: Integration and Transformation through the God-Human Relationship Janet K. Ruffing, RSM July, 2009
    2. 2. Pedro Arrupe <ul><li>Nothing is more practical than finding God, </li></ul><ul><li>That is, than falling in love </li></ul><ul><li>In a quite absolute way. </li></ul><ul><li>What your are in love with, what seizes your imagination, </li></ul><ul><li>Will affect everything. </li></ul><ul><li>It will decide </li></ul><ul><li>What will get you out of bed in the morning, </li></ul><ul><li>What you will do with your evenings, </li></ul><ul><li>How you spend your weekend, </li></ul><ul><li>What you read, </li></ul><ul><li>Who you know </li></ul><ul><li>what breaks your heart, </li></ul><ul><li>and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. </li></ul><ul><li>Fall in love, </li></ul><ul><li>stay in love, </li></ul><ul><li>And it will decide everything. </li></ul>
    3. 3. Arrupe <ul><li>Makes the connection between human love (falling in love) and love of God. </li></ul><ul><li>Falling in Love a quite absolute way directs all of our energies and passions toward the object of that love. </li></ul><ul><li>At the core of Ignatian spirituality is discernment our desires </li></ul><ul><ul><li>what do we love? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Is it big enough? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And where will it take us? </li></ul></ul>
    4. 4. Falling in Love is Risky Business <ul><li>Falling in love with God takes us to unimaginable places </li></ul><ul><li>Falling in love with another human being is just as risky </li></ul><ul><li>Yet we do both with on a regular basis </li></ul>
    5. 5. A New Way of Loving: Apostolic Life <ul><li>It led Mother Theresa to the huts of the poor </li></ul><ul><li>It led Marilyn Lacey to refugee work </li></ul><ul><li>It led Arrupe to the Japanese mission </li></ul><ul><li>It led Ignatius to found the Society </li></ul><ul><li>It led Gary Smith, SJ to the homeless and then to Africa </li></ul><ul><li>It led to countless pastoral projects </li></ul>
    6. 6. For Most people most of the time <ul><li>It leads to mutual attraction and the richness and fruitfulness of shared life in family, in parenting, in community of one kind or another </li></ul>
    7. 7. All Desire <ul><li>Recognized or not </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Encompasses the desire for God as well as for meaningful human relationships and great passion for service to the human community </li></ul></ul></ul>
    8. 8. Understanding the relationship between desire Both erotic and spiritual and our human and divine loving
    9. 9. Retrieve positive attitudes toward desire and pleasure Explore how God’s love for us and our love of God are similar to or different from our human loving
    10. 10. Notice <ul><li>What stirs in you in response to this song and these texts? </li></ul><ul><li>How do you relate to these invitations? </li></ul><ul><li>Are they like or unlike anything you experience in your directees? </li></ul>
    11. 11. Come Sweet Love Johna Peterson <ul><li>Come sweet love </li></ul><ul><li>In silence and in words </li></ul><ul><li>Come in wonder </li></ul><ul><li>Come in beauty </li></ul><ul><li>And in fear </li></ul><ul><li>See…listen to the whisper </li></ul><ul><li>Love awaits us! </li></ul><ul><li>Love awaits us! </li></ul><ul><li>Open up the doors of tenderness </li></ul><ul><li>Love is Come! </li></ul><ul><li>In your face I see </li></ul><ul><li>Rivers to move me </li></ul><ul><li>Encircled in your arms </li></ul><ul><li>I know caverns I have not been. </li></ul><ul><li>As one who has grown silent </li></ul><ul><li>Tenderness bowed in </li></ul><ul><li>Rising now in silence and song </li></ul><ul><li>Alights its rest in you. </li></ul><ul><li>Let then this be said: </li></ul><ul><li>May we joy in this unfolding </li></ul><ul><li>May we breathe in the fragrances here </li></ul><ul><li>Tremble sweet tenderness. </li></ul>
    12. 19. Share with one other person your response to the song Or Something one of the images evoked in relationship to your experience of God
    13. 20. John S. Dunne Mystic Road of Love
    14. 21. A double rainbow <ul><li>The primary rainbow =the trajectory of love flowing from God to us and back again to God. </li></ul><ul><li>Much of the time, he can only see this primary rainbow opening up before him all the way to death. </li></ul><ul><li>The secondary rainbow, larger and fainter than the primary one = human love and is derivative from the primary rainbow of divine love </li></ul>
    15. 23. Not necessarily always available in Consciousness <ul><li>sometimes, he can only see the human rainbow of love </li></ul><ul><li>at other times, only the rainbow of divine love </li></ul><ul><li>and still at other times only the spring of the arch and not the whole arch </li></ul>explore
    16. 25. What is the Relationship between love of God and love of human beloveds? <ul><li>Is God’s love a reflection of human love? </li></ul><ul><li>Or is our love of God a reflection of God’s love </li></ul><ul><li>and is our love of one another a reflection of our love of God and God’s love of us, a double reflection therefore? </li></ul>
    17. 26. Loss of Love or Absence of the Beloved <ul><li>Obscures the secondary rainbow and one only sees the primary rainbow. </li></ul><ul><li>This loss tends to compel us to turn to God, to wonder about God’s friendship </li></ul><ul><li>Yet because of the absence of human love we still feels bereft. </li></ul>
    18. 27. Two Parallel Movements <ul><li>How to go on in the experience of absence? </li></ul><ul><li>Resolved by discovering one is not alone on this mystic road of love—that God is continually present with us on the journey </li></ul><ul><li>and a movement from restlessness to repose or rest. </li></ul>
    19. 28. Turning to God despite the Loss or the Absence of a Partner <ul><li>Brings us to a peace </li></ul><ul><li>to repose of heart in God </li></ul><ul><li>This repose (contemplation =presence of God) brings us wholeness and healing </li></ul>
    20. 29. John Dunne’s Progression of Love <ul><li>Eros passion for the individual (eros) </li></ul><ul><li>To Friendship with God (philia) </li></ul><ul><li>To ecstasy in contemplation– love that is of God (agape) </li></ul><ul><li>The progression often needs a guide: </li></ul><ul><li>Dante had Virgil then Beatrice </li></ul><ul><li>Dunne names Virgil then Ayasofia (Wisdom, Sophia) </li></ul>
    21. 30. Eternal Friend Vladimir Solovyov <ul><li>I met you </li></ul><ul><li>Dwelling in a human heart; </li></ul><ul><li>I found and lost you, </li></ul><ul><li>And I lost and found </li></ul><ul><li>My soul in the lost hills; and we shall meet again </li></ul><ul><li>As child and child, </li></ul><ul><li>And heart shall speak peace </li></ul><ul><li>Unto heart. </li></ul><ul><li>A human face </li></ul><ul><li>And your face in the azure light, </li></ul><ul><li>A human soul </li></ul><ul><li>And your soul of a universe, </li></ul><ul><li>And we shall meet again, </li></ul><ul><li>Face to face, </li></ul><ul><li>And heart shall speak peace </li></ul><ul><li>Unto heart. </li></ul><ul><li>To let friends befriend </li></ul><ul><li>And soul besoul, </li></ul><ul><li>To let be </li></ul><ul><li>And be heart-free </li></ul><ul><li>And heart-whole, </li></ul><ul><li>And we shall meet again </li></ul><ul><li>As friend and friend, </li></ul><ul><li>And heart shall speak peace unto heart. </li></ul>
    22. 31. Dunne’s Reflection <ul><li>He discovers he has trouble differentiating between Sophia and her human embodiments. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Sometimes I read in your eyes a sorrow too deep to express, a long lonely road that flickers through your being at the moment of our parting. Sometimes I think you aren’t really even seeing me at that moment, but that you are communing with someone else.” </li></ul>
    23. 32. Bernard of Clairvaux Sermons on the Song of Songs
    24. 33. Qualities of love for Christ Sermon 20 <ul><li>Carnal = suggesting fully embodied affections, attaching to Christ instead of another love object, transmuting sensual as in erotic. </li></ul><ul><li>Rational = the mind is illumined and strong in faith, exerts more control, discretion, less “ardent, vehement” </li></ul><ul><li>and Spiritual = constancy and vigor of the spirit </li></ul>
    25. 34. Transformative Process <ul><li>the love of the heart is in a certain sense, carnal </li></ul><ul><li>Whatever form this image (of Christ) takes, it </li></ul><ul><ul><li>must bind the soul with the love of virtue </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>expel carnal vices, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>eliminate temptations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>quiet desires. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>He wanted to recapture the affections of carnal men [and women] who were unable to live in any other way, by </li></ul><ul><ul><li>first drawing them to the salutary love of his own humanity, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>and then gradually raise them to a more spiritual love </li></ul></ul>
    26. 35. Seven Reasons to Seek the Word <ul><li>To whom she is conformed to beauty </li></ul><ul><li>To whom she is wed for her fruitfulness </li></ul><ul><li>To whom she owes her virtue </li></ul><ul><li>To whom she consents for correction </li></ul><ul><li>By whom she is illuminated for her knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>By whom she is reformed to wisdom </li></ul><ul><li>Whom she enjoys for her bliss </li></ul><ul><li>(Sermon 18) </li></ul>
    27. 36. Bernard of Clairvaux: Itineraries of Progress Contemplation Wisdom and knowledge Bride Mutuality (Mary) Kiss of the Mouth One spirit with Christ Devotion Son Familial, service Friendship (Martha) Kiss of the Hand raises (virtues) grace that follows good deeds. Progress Contrition/ Confession Mercenary “ hired” (Lazarus) Kiss of the Feet Forgiveness conversion On Loving God Slave dependent Sermon on Song of Songs
    28. 37. What are the implications for Spiritual Directors that Love develops and that amor/eros provides the energy for love all the way to mystical union?
    29. 38. Attitudes Toward Pleasure: Sensual and Spiritual <ul><li>How does God use spiritual pleasure (consolation) to attract us and transform us toward mutuality and equality with God? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the positive aspects of sensual pleasure? </li></ul><ul><li>How is sexual pleasure similar to or different from either spiritual pleasure or other sensual pleasures? </li></ul><ul><li>Does God “pleasure” us erotically as well as spiritually? </li></ul>
    30. 39. A Way of Understanding Pleasure <ul><li>Pleasure is a premoral good </li></ul><ul><li>Human well-being thrives on limiting pain as much as possible and maximizing pleasure </li></ul><ul><li>Healthy life-styles satisfy the human need for pleasure </li></ul><ul><li>No one kind of bodily pleasure is necessary </li></ul><ul><li>Body, Sex and Pleasure: Reconstructing Sexual Ethics </li></ul><ul><li>by Christine Gudorf </li></ul>
    31. 40. Possibilities: <ul><li>Vigorous outdoor exercise and activities </li></ul><ul><li>Beauty of nature </li></ul><ul><li>Sex </li></ul><ul><li>Art </li></ul><ul><li>Music, dance, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>professional massage </li></ul><ul><li>Cuddling babies </li></ul><ul><li>Frequent hugs and touch from friends/family </li></ul><ul><li>Appetizing foods </li></ul>
    32. 41. Sexual Pleasures <ul><li>Participates in the beneficial effects of the simple pleasure of human touch </li></ul><ul><li>Is experienced in the physical body </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(arousal, etc., leaves sensory memories) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>May be involuntary (maybe painful, depending on circumstances) </li></ul><ul><li>May be shared (partnered) or solitary (self-pleasuring) </li></ul><ul><li>Pleasure of Passion </li></ul><ul><li>Pleasure of emotional Intimacy and bonding are dependent upon mutual sexual pleasure </li></ul><ul><li>Relief from loneliness </li></ul><ul><li>Initiate and sustain relationship </li></ul><ul><li>Comfort and security of closeness </li></ul><ul><li>Relief from boredom; distraction from pain and anxiety </li></ul><ul><li>Comfort in the face of death </li></ul><ul><li>God can be experienced in the ecstatic experience of orgasm– one’s unitive experience with one’s partner may also be an experience of intimacy with God simultaneously. </li></ul>
    33. 42. Spiritual Significance of Sex <ul><li>For many persons, their primary experience of inclusive love, of openness to another, of being accepted and enhanced, of being empowered by love to reach out in love to others, is sexual. (for some, important religious experiences occurred either with one’s partner or in giving birth.) </li></ul><ul><li>For many, the primary experience of Divinity itself as well as of God’s intention for the reign of God is sexual. Gudorf, 118 </li></ul>
    34. 43. Symbolic Power of Sex <ul><li>Represent life </li></ul><ul><li>Victory over death </li></ul><ul><li>Generation of life </li></ul><ul><li>Sustaining of life </li></ul><ul><li>unitive and bonding </li></ul><ul><li>Creation of community </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Vision: insights into community, close friendship opens new horizons, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Source of energy for social change and community </li></ul></ul>
    35. 44. Pedro Arrupe <ul><li>Nothing is more practical than finding God, </li></ul><ul><li>That is, than falling in love </li></ul><ul><li>In a quite absolute way. </li></ul><ul><li>What your are in love with, what seizes your imagination, </li></ul><ul><li>Will affect everything. </li></ul><ul><li>It will decide </li></ul><ul><li>What will get you out of bed in the morning, </li></ul><ul><li>What you will do with your evenings, </li></ul><ul><li>How you spend your weekend, </li></ul><ul><li>What you read, </li></ul><ul><li>Who you know </li></ul><ul><li>what breaks your heart, </li></ul><ul><li>and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. </li></ul><ul><li>Fall in love, </li></ul><ul><li>stay in love, </li></ul><ul><li>And it will decide everything. </li></ul>