LEADING UP TO
SEEING GOD FACE TO FACE
Hesiod & the Muse
LIFESTYLE DURING 1981
During this time I lived an abstemious life in all ways. It was the most austere I had lived except during the time I was practicing yoga 1970- 1971.
Many things were removed from myself. All human comforts, by way of celibacy, and I was in isolation.
Let me give a list of things that I practiced and/or gave up.
1. No sex, no human contact or intercourse of any type.
2. No tv or radio or any sort of device like music that brings the world in or captures the senses. No secular reading.
3. Modest food consumption.
4. Removed beds from apartment and slept on floor on a few rugs.
5. Went to daily Mass, sometimes sat through 2 or 3 Masses, receiving Our Lord's Body and Blood each time if the Priest didn't catch me. (It was illegal at the time to receive more than once a day, unless the other Mass was funeral or wedding.)
6. Spent the bulk of the day in prayer. Litanies, prayers from books of saints and 'Enchiridion of Indulgences', the Holy Rosary, personal prayers, even singing songs to God.
7. Spent one to three hours daily reading Catholic books; lives of saints, theology, mystics.
8. Was fulfilling many devotions, some of which had been started one to three years earlier.
9. Made all sacrifices by giving away material things, as St. Francis of Assisi instructed.
10. Did everything possible to keep a clean heart, examining my conscience daily.
DETAILED EXPLANATIONS OF LIFESTYLE
1. As I said, I was celibate. (May 27, 1978) gave my promise to Our Blessed Mother. But now my inner voice, called 'Atman' or 'Self' in yoga - instructed me to cut all ties with people. I was to tell my family and friends no letters, no phone calls. This was not easy, as some people got really offended. One man who was totally devoted to me later confessed that when I told him this, he wanted to end his life. Another lady friend took it badly also. My sister just thought I was nuts (as usual, doing all sorts of strange and unusual things - I could read her mind.) I told these people,
'Something is going on spiritually, and this is what I have to do for the time being. Please do not contact me in any way. I must be alone.'
The hardest person to give up was my spiritual son, David. He was sixteen and quite needy as far as inspiring his faith. He totally believed in me, and I kept holding on to him. God kept pushing me to give him up. Finally I told him and he was the last person. (It was really hard for me to believe God would want me to give up a spiritual child, but God insisted.)
When outside I did not stop anywhere to converse with anyone (like I used to do). If people tried to talk to me, I cut them off. I was always in a hurry to get back to God! I felt right now it would be a transgression to chit chit or idly gossip with anyone. Once I said 'hi' to someone and then felt guilty for the rest of the night. But God told me it was ok.
After I had been in this state for a while, I was in another consciousness. I do recall rarely I had to pick up the phone and speak to someone. I felt like I was in an elevated area, looking down on them (not judgmental but rather in perspective) and I could hear every word they said as being from the flesh. I could see where it came from and the utter waste of it - the shallow and foolish nature of all that people were saying. I would listen patiently, not participate except to be polite, and hang up as quickly as I could.
I did recall two instructions. One, from Anne Catherine Emmerich, Jesus said, speaking to the disciples, that they had to sit on top of the palm tree, looking down at earthly life. If they participated in it, they could not be good ministers. They could not see the world objectively, if they got under its subjective feelings, family matters and all that. (Be in the world, not of it.)
The other instruction was from St. Teresa of Avila. She noted how talking to family and friends THROUGH THE GRATE of the convent seemed so innocent, and yet IT DETERIORATED HER SPIRITUAL LIFE. I took that to be the same as seemingly innocent phone calls.
2. During many parts of my life, including this one, I have sequestered myself away from television and all current events, and all diversions that connect the senses to the world and flesh.
I recalled the instruction of St. Benedict (the father of monasticism.) He had to send monks out on errands to the city. But when they returned he said to them,
'Do not bring the news of the city back here. We have left the city to be with God, do not bring the city back to us.'
I took it to understand that current events, coming through the radio and television, would have the same effect. If I wanted to be with God, I would have to separate myself from the world and flesh in all ways. After all, what did it mean, to love God with all one's mind, strength and heart? To love God totally and completely? How do you do that? In my case, I discerned I was to separate myself from all things not God and put all of my attention, all my time, and energy onto God - in whatever way I could. So that is what I did.
I now recall
an instruction from the great faith healer Smith Wigglesworth (Apostle of Faith,
died in the 50's) as told by Dr. Lester Sumrall. Lester Sumrall, as a young
fellow, was visiting Rev. Wigglesworth in England. He stood outside the good
Rev.'s door, wearing a bowler hat, carrying an umbrella and a newspapers under
his arm. Rev. Smith opened the door and barked at him to 'get rid of that -
it is all lies!' meaning the newspaper - grabbed it from Lester and threw it
into the bushes. (When they went inside subjected Lester to hours of bible reading
and prayer!) I was not familiar with this story at the time of these disciplines,
but it proves the point. Getting rid of the lies means getting rid of the sense
of 'current events,' the time and space' world which seems so real but is mostly
delusion. It is along the same lines as good St. Benedict propounded.
3. Food consumption. Every Sunday I fasted not only from food but foolishly, from water. That, one should never do, as water is necessary to stay healthy. By the end of each 24 hour period, I felt really ill, (obviously from lack of water) and could only stand it by praying on my knees the last two hours, holding on against the craving to fill my body with nourishment. The rest of the time I ate, as most of my life, modestly.
4. Removed beds, slept on floor. I cannot recall where I got this idea, but can only remember having the strong feeling that beds were decadent and unnecessary. They were a luxury, they represented to me sex and luxury, and that I would have none of it.
5. Daily Masses. Yet I believe I occasionally missed a Mass at that time due to not feeling well (then I did participate via television) - but there was a time when I never missed Mass three years in a row - not one day, even when traveling and going with two hours of sleep not to miss it.
6. I had a regular list of prayers that I had to say daily. They were from a book of indulgences..... I especially noticed the prayers of St. Gertrude the Great, the Herald of Divine Love. She was very important to me. She had prayers for thanking God for all the graces 'He' had given the world, and to thank God for the graces given her, and I prayed that God would give me her graces as well. She was a great mystic, and eventually, I would walk into her shoes of interior Divine Stigmata. She, Ven. Mary of Agreda, and Anne Catherine Emmerich, were my constant companions in spirit. Ditto St. Francis of Assisi. I was saying the rosary with all the mysteries as well. I prayed fervently, with much emotion and strength. I put all of myself into it.
7. Reading spiritual books. This was important. I cannot stress how much inspiration spiritual books give - especially books of saints - and how much distraction and delusion secular books bring to the mind. As soon as I would read of a saint, I wanted to do all that the saint had done, and I tried. I couldn't stand the thought that they had gotten closer to God than I was! I wanted to be there more than I wanted anything else in life!
8. Many devotions. I had been saying St. Brigitte's prayers on the Passion of Jesus Christ, and this was the third and last year, 1981. The day I finished Jesus appeared to me, hugged and kissed me tenderly! These were twelve daily prayers honoring Our Lord's sorrows and wounds. It is worthy of note that at this time I felt so sorry for the sufferings of Jesus that tears would flow from my eyes - proof that my emotions were given up to God and not wasted on worldly things.
Another important devotion I learned from Teresa Helena Higginson, (1844-1905) a great mystic of England. I had a card (as well as her biography) which explained the devotion to Our Lord's Sacred Head as 'The Seat of Divine Wisdom.' This devotion was tied to that of worshipping His Sacred Heart. It is the GUIDING POWER of the Sacred Heart. This honored his memory, intellect and will. (The brilliant schoolteacher wanted to become a nun, but her 'director'(a priest) refused. Perhaps that is why she has been overlooked for canonization. The Catholic Church wants its female saints to all have come from convents, probably to make sure they were under observation and never had sex.)
9. Gave away physical things as St. Francis instructed. I did not have much money or things at this time. All I had was what I needed, with little left over. One day, thinking about luxuries I might be sitting on I remembered a velvet flamenco painting I found while traveling. Very beautiful, it would be something I could give away easily. My neighbors were all Spanish. (I lived surrounded by Puerto Ricans, the only Caucasian left. The Jews, Lithuanians and Pollacks had long left. I had been there forever....... race never bothered me. The apartment was a sixth floor walkup.) I at first resisted giving away this little 'prize,' but conquered my greed. Knocked on the door of my neighbor, where a young dark haired woman faced me. I showed her the velvet painting (a tapestry) and she said,
I gave it to her as the only luxury I had, and I was free and clean.
St. Francis was the one who followed Jesus' perhaps tongue-in-cheek words to the rich young man,
'God, sell all you have, give to the poor, and follow me.'
The rich young man walked away sad, but others took Him up on it.
One day, as I was walking up to my Brooklyn building doorstep I sensed the presence of Satan. He growled at me angrily,
'So now you think you're St. Francis of Assisi!'
I was startled that the devil could compare me to this great saint, who in my estimation, was light years ahead of me. Then I thought,
'If the devil was that mad at me, maybe I am getting closer to St. Francis! Why else would he be angry?' This thought, then, gave me great happiness.
I must add this concerning my finances. To undergo an austerity like this, I was not able to work. I made a firm decision not to take any jobs (I was a dancer) until God got through with me, with whatever was in store. But having little money meant I had to live close to the belt. I gave myself an allowance of $50. a week for all things after bills, and kept to it. This meant meager food, and no luxuries . I stuck to it. I maintained this budget for most of two years.
10. Examination of conscience is one of the most important points to the life of Perfection. It is amazing how much dirt one can find in oneself, if searching for it diligently. At a place like this, you aren't committing any gross or obvious sins, but the sins against charity can be numerous in one's thoughts and feelings. It is these that must be cleansed, as well as keeping your zeal for God at the highest pitch. You must be sure that you say your prayers with great love, and they are sincere. This takes much attention.
Rasa Von Werder
November 24, 2005
Jesus and Mary appear to me at this time, bringing many Gifts and favors.