Monday, October 3, 2011


I've been reading this great book by Tony De Mello, S.J., Awareness. It's basically a retreat he used to give. It's actually hard to get through, not because it's too complicated but because it's so incredibly rich. It's the kind of book you read a page and think, whoa, I need to sit with that.

I came across a stop the presses idea like that last week. He was talking about faith and belief.
An openness to the truth, no matter what the consequences, no matter where it leads you and when you don't even know where it's going to lead you. That's faith. Not belief, but faith.  Your beliefs give you a lot of security, but faith is insecurity. 
It seems to me, one legitimate way in which we can form our identities is by way of what we hold on to, what we claim is true.

De Mello's point as I read it is that for the believer there is another way that emerges not out of what we claim, but how much we're willing to risk.  

And consequently, as crazy as it will sound, if you're feeling scared, uncomfortable, way out of your depth, maybe that doesn't mean you've strayed far from the path or that God has abandoned you in some fundamental way. Maybe it just means you're doing something right.


Shelly said...

De Mellos's "Contact With God" was what brought me back to faith. "Awareness" was my second read, and really hit home with me. It allowed me permission and gave me encouragement to be OK with those raw, uncomfortable, overwhelmed feelings - to sit with them and let them change me. As difficult as doing that has been, when I do allow myself the opportunity to be "on the edge" and out of my comfort zone I find great fruit and encouragement on the other side.

Jim McDermott, S.J. said...

Good for you, Shelly. De Mello has a great way of getting us to the heart of things, doesn't he?

Anonymous said...

I am also reading "Awareness" now and find it intense and brutally honest. A kinder cousin seems to be Richard Rohr's "Everything Belongs" but both make the same point - reality is the core, which is where we find God, when we stop pushing towards the edges where it is more comfortable, but stay vulnerable to what is real. There is a line in the opening of the Mass (perhaps around the forgiveness of sins) that refers to the "consolation of the truth." I've always been drawn to that line, but also know that consolation is often not sweet but the path to surrender for me.