20 April 2011

Spiritual Reflections From the Retreat of the Grand Priory of England

Last week the Grand Priory of England held their Annual Order retreat for men at Douai Abbey, Berkshire. Two papers given by the Chaplain of the Grand Priory, Msgr Antony Conlon are available at the Conventual Church of St. John of Jerusalem's blog,
There is always a danger that our hearts are far from where they ought to be, slightly envious of those who have less regard for virtue and yet seem to prosper and be well regarded. Though we stay this side of outright wickedness and carry out what is expected of us, our loyalty may be tainted with suspicion and some regret as the years go by. Does God notice what we do and allow us to feel good about it or, like the father in the story show no indication of His love despite our daily attempts at faithful service? The apparent silence of God about so many things that perplex and annoy us can result in our spiritual life becoming a routine of ritual engagements rather than a filial relationship with a Father who loves us and has given us everything When fervour and joy are absent from our service, as in the example of the elder son, we all too easily fall into the state of detached formality. This in turn can deprive us of charity towards others and a heightened sense of awareness of their faults in comparison to our own imagined virtue.
Seeing his younger sibling return from fruitless dissipation and yet welcomed unreservedly, the elder son perceived the mercy and compassion shown to him as injustice, and the celebration of his conversion as a waste of time and effort. Our own version of this attitude might be rash judgement of those who appear foolish or sense of superiority over the weak disposition of others. If this is so, it makes our own conversion less likely. A devout soul can, by dwelling too much with disgust on the wrongs of others, lose the power to see where he himself has gone wrong and is too convinced of his own sense of grievance to be aware of his distance from charity and humility. We who clothe ourselves with the mantle of religion have to be on our guard that it is not a pretext for self-righteousness in any of its forms.

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