Interior Trials: Part I
Let us begin with the torture which it costs us to have to do with a confessor [spiritual guide] so scrupulous and inexperienced that he thinks nothing is safe: he is afraid of everything, and doubtful about everything, as soon as he sees that he is dealing with anything out of the ordinary. This is particularly so if he sees any imperfection in the soul that is undergoing these experiences. (Teresa of Avila: Sixth Mansions: Book One)
It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car. (Michael Pollan: Food Rules)
Three things we like cheap: Cheap food, cheap art, and cheap ministry. We get instant satisfaction — and pay for it later.
Cheap Food: We buy cheap food. This food is easy to make or we have someone else make it for us. We get the immediate satisfaction of a full stomach without the investment in preparation or clean-up. But, at some point we pay for cheap food with our health.
Cheap Art: We expect to pay a doctor or an electrician the going rate, but not the musician. We want the artist at cut-rate prices. We also avoid the intellectual demands of difficult books and complex art. At some point we pay for cheap art with a narrow mind and a myopic view of life.
Cheap Ministry: Many churches have traded quality clergy to get “affordable” people who can run “sensational” programs. Unfortunately this leaves us with spiritual guides ill-prepared to do the important work of spiritual direction. Down the road, we pay for this with our souls.
We’ve saved time and money, and now we’re busy, broke, and broken. I’m not suggesting the occasional fast-food meal, reading for enjoyment, or adding a few frills to our ministries are bad things. The problem is when the emptiness becomes chronic. We should have high expectations of how we feed our bodies, fill our minds, and nurture our souls.
Teresa was concerned about ineffective spiritual guides. She gives an example of a spiritual guide who is “scrupulous and inexperienced” and “afraid of everything”. These kind of spiritual guides cannot deal with the complexity of the spiritual life and they will leave you with years of painful interior trials.
Invest heavily in your spiritual guides and have high expectations. They deserve it and so do you.