Meditation 1: Feeling Spiritually Blind

A Meditation Novena in the Footsteps of St. Thérèse

written by Fr. Todd Arsenault, LC

Meditation 1:
Feeling Spiritually Blind

Growing up in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada I got used to not seeing too far in front of my face! Let me explain. Fog is a very common phenomenon along the coastline of Nova Scotia because of the difference in temperature between the warmer land and the cool North Atlantic Ocean waters. The result when the cool winds from the water blow on land in the spring and summer: pea-soup fog! One loses sight of the beauty of the landscape, the rocky coasts, the colors, the birds, and much more, and what was enjoyed on a rare hot clear day is quickly forgotten, to the point that one starts to think: “What a drab place!” when the opposite is true. My mother once commented that her first summer living there she couldn’t believe how many days of fog there were and how happy she was when finally the sun would burst through to burn it off even if for a short time!

In the spiritual life, this can happen to us. God seems distant, unnoticed, and absent, and all we notice is the negative around us in the imperfections of creation and humanity. Our woundedness, an effect of original sin, stands out all too clearly when we lose sight of God’s presence.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux offers us some simple but in-depth wisdom regarding the truth of things when outside factors try to tell us differently. Ponder these words that show us how to see past illusions and falsehoods and with simplicity see the glories of God at work:

“It seems to me that if a little flower could speak, it would tell simply what God has done for it without trying to hide its blessings. It would not say, under the pretext of a false humility, it is not beautiful or without perfume, that the sun has taken away its splendor and the storm has broken its stem when it knows that all this is untrue. The flower about to tell her story rejoices at having to publish the totally gratuitous gifts of Jesus. She knows that nothing in herself as capable of attracting the divine glances, and his mercy alone brought about everything that is good in her.”1

Scripture passage for reflection: Luke 18:35-43

The blind man developed his other senses to an alarming degree. It was for survival! He couldn’t see Jesus, but he could hear him, hear the commotion made by others regarding him, and reason in his mind what this person could be like to deal with. To this end, he concluded that he should have more intimate contact with this Jesus. Thus, upon hearing that he was walking close by, he yelled out: “Son of David, have pity on me!” God made human beings very adaptable! We can amazingly deal with very adverse limitations and still overcome them! This blind man turned his amazement and wonder into a cry for help. Do I use all that the Lord has given me even in my limited way to seek him who will have pity on me? Write down any moments I remember doing this.

He is told to be quiet, mind his manners, and not to bother Jesus. The world wants us to wallow in our limitations, in self-pity, and in what we don’t have, making us feel guilty for not having it all together, guilty for something that isn’t our fault, and guilty for not being perfect, and thus far from and not good enough for God. All these are lies! Do I see lies that have crept or are creeping into my life, into my way of looking at myself and relating to God and the world? What are they? Call them by name!

“What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, please let me see.” This is the key to overcoming the lies: a humble, faith-filled plea for clarity of sight! It is a plea that is saying: “I want to see your face, Lord! I want to gaze into the mystery of your eyes and see the depths of love you have for me, who is your child! I want to see the beauty of the truth of who I am according to you who created me, not according to the lies of the enemy of my soul and the world!” Christ generously wants to give us all this and more. What is it that I am asking from Christ? Write it down.

Colloquy: Jesus, you alone can make the blind see again and you alone can give me sight to see the beauty and truth of who you are and who I am in you who created me, loved me, and gave up your life for me so that I might have eternal life. Take away my blindness because of sin, because of the lies I’ve believed, and allow me to faithfully follow you as your disciple. Amen.

1 All quotes for St. Thérèse of Lisieux are taken from THE STORY OF A SOUL: The Autobiography of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, 3rd Ed., Translated from the Original Manuscripts by John Clarke, OCD, ICS Publications, Washington, DC, 1996.

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