Craving Christ

Have you ever been hungry? No, not peckish, not dinner time hungry, I mean really hungry. That kind of gnawing, groaning, roaring hunger that causes you to feel pain? Well, seeing that this blog is called Catholic Cravings and all, let me tell you about that hunger.

I was driving home tonight, I was angsty, I was confused, I was thoroughly dissatisfied. I had gone out some hours earlier, thinking that spending a little time at Church would help ease my neediness. What I needed was a hug from a mate (that’s what we call a ‘friend’ in Australia,) and I got the hug, but it didn’t cut it. I was empty still.

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St Teresa of Avila in ecstasy, heart pierced with a lance

My hunger was earthly, I needed human contact because I was feeling lonely- but my hunger was also heavenly. Now, this ‘heavenly longing’ stuff might sound cheesy to you, but hear me out, because I’m talking about getting what you want, when you don’t know quite what you want. It’s kind of physical, really; It’s like earthly appetites, and I mean all of the earthly appetites, have become vaster, more immense, more voracious.

There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else. 

-C S Lewis, Problem of Pain

For me, what I thought was loneliness, and boredom, and low self-esteem, amounted to something far greater. It became that hoary chestnut, that friend of old, that deep longing. That longing that God planted in me before I could talk or walk. It’s a source of torment, a thorn in my side, yet it’s my truest pleasure, leading me to the highest summit: Christ’s sacred heart, and the Eucharist

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But I’m not there yet, I don’t have it, probably, none of us, this side of heaven, have that perfect fulfilment.

“You have never had it. All the things that have ever deeply possessed your soul have been but hints of it – tantalising glimpses, promises never quite fulfilled, echoes that died away just as they caught your ear.

But if it should really become manifest – if there ever came an echo that did not die away but swelled into the sound itself – you would know it. Beyond all possibility of doubt you would say ‘Here at last is the thing I was made for.”

-C S Lewis, Problem of Pain

Yet, the desiring of it is so exquisite that I wouldn’t want it to stop. It makes me faint with pleasure, and groan with pain. Trying to know God is weird that way.

The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it.

-Chapter XXIX; Part 17, Saint Teresa’s Autobiography

I don’t know why He allows me to feel such pain. But at the same time, sometimes it’s moments like this, where I feel tragically alone, and scared and desperate, that I can, finally, see straight, and think clearly. He is the only thing that satisfies me, and I see that now, because

 “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

-C S Lewis

Now, I don’t know how to form a segue into this inexpressibly beautiful litany to the Sacred Heart (and I have tried) so I’ll just let it speak for itself.

Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills,
Heart of Jesus, patient and most merciful,
Heart of Jesus, enriching all who invoke Thee,
Heart of Jesus, fountain of life and holiness,
Heart of Jesus, propitiation for our sins,
Heart of Jesus, loaded down with revilings,
Heart of Jesus, bruised for our offenses,

-Entire Litany here 

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2 responses to “Craving Christ

  1. If you enjoyed this post, you may also appreciate the meditations of certain mystics who spoke to the needs of the anxious and scrupulous. I think some kinds of people may tend more toward melancholy, and for them, I heed Christ’s words to St Gertrude the Great,

    “While you do this, I, on my part, will watch over you with such faithful and tender care as never to permit you to be tried beyond your strength, for I know perfectly both your patience and your weakness. Consider, in proof of this, how you are actually less feeble now than you were after your first illness. Take courage then and trust to My goodness.’

    and a saying of another great saint,

    “Suffering + Love = Joy”

    -St. Maximilian Kolbe

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