Brothers and Sisters,
A little while ago I was watching EWTN and the subject of thirsting for God came up. The presenter rightly stated that it is necessary to nuture a thirst for God to move beyond the complacency of being satisfied with simply being a “good” Catholic (doing the things that a Catholic is supposed to do by rote, I guess). It occured to me that perhaps something like this may be at the root of my own spiritual problems of recent times. I have visited monasteries, participated in the Divine Liturgies in the Eastern Catholic Churches, and spent a lot of time praying and really wondering about where I am and where God may be leading me.
Being rather cautious by nature, I am very slow to accept any sort of radical change in my situation simply because of my own feelings of anguish, which I don’t trust to begin with (remembering Jeremiah’s warning about the heart in 17:19). It has been suggested to me by some here and elsewhere that this is my “dark night of the soul” as described by St. John of the Cross. I think that might be a bit much, but I do recognize that there is a sense of isolation involved in this whole experience that is probably not so much unlike that of a true ascetic, as opposed to a whiny guy on the internet.
My question is: If so much disquiet is the result of a true thirsting for God, can such a thirst “backfire” if/when it draws a person away from those things involved in being a “good” Catholic (or Orthodox, Protestant, etc.)? Or is it a sign that this thirst is not of God at all? I’ve spent many hours in prayer and in conversation with priests, and honestly I don’t know what more to do. It seems paradoxical to me that we are to thirst for more while being content with less, and I can’t think of a better or less blunt way to describe the dichotomy of being among monks on the one hand and being at the local N.O. mass on the other. (And this thread is NOT meant to be about the relative reverence or appropriateness of the various forms of the Mass; this is just the most obvious example of this discrepancy that I can think of.)
Someone (here, perhaps) once wrote something about the issue of struggling to be the Church within the Church. If one is struggling in a similar fashion to respond to a deep longing for God, is it right to follow it even to places not accepted within their religious tradition?