A Book of Sparks
The Reduction of Desire
As Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis writes in Love's Sacred Order:
Contemporary Church life threatens to fragment into extremes of "liberal" and "conservative" precisely because often we lose sight of this deepest mystical Center and spend ourselves in fruitless debates that are unworthy of the Church because they are really political and not mystical in method, content or intent.
In a period of intense emotional pain, I once asked a friend to go to Mass with me at the cathedral in downtown L.A. and she refused, as a matter of conscience, because she felt the money should have been spent on "the poor" instead of on a fancy church. Now I realize no one is obligated to do anything they don't darn well please, and that my friend had every right to say no. But I wanted to say: You think I'm not one of the poor? You think you're not one of the poor? You don't burn for the Eucharist, for Mass? Who cares how much or how little the church cost?
Of course I'm always in danger of the reduction of my own desire. I'm ever more aware of the myriad times, every day, that I'm a terrible Pharisee. But more and more I also see that my greatest grace is that for someone of my demographic and education, I am, and have always been, and am poised to pretty much always be "poor." Poor in spirit as a perpetually restless, irritable, discontent alcoholic (and that's sober!), poor in worldly goods, poor in companionship. But to be poor is to burn with love for Christ. To be poor is to be ever more well situated to "will the one thing," which Kierkegaard observed is the mark of the saint.
Human beings always trump ideals, ideas, theories, and abstractions. Friendship always trumps politics. The spirit of the law always trumps the letter of the law.
And the Eucharist always, always, always, trumps everything.
Heather King is an ex-lawyer, ex-drunk Catholic convert with three memoirs: Parched (the dark years); Redeemed (crawling toward the light); and Shirt of Flame (forthcoming - her year of wandering around Koreatown, L.A. "with" St. Thérèse of Lisieux). You can find Heather on Facebook. She blogs at shirtofflame.blogspot.com.