Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

Images of God

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Dohle-God-Faces-webOne of the greatest obstacles for most people when dealing with God, are the images that are operative, either in their conscious mind, or in the unconscious. I would suppose that our unconscious images could cause the most havoc, since they are deeply hidden, working behind the scenes, at times calling the shots in ones spiritual life. Some unconscious images of God can be terrifying, placed there when we were children, helpless to be able to discern the truth or falsity of statements made about the Creator. God is often the projection of all the worst aspects of what it means to be human. For instance, God is seen and experienced as vengeful, angry, punitive, and seeking only to send the sinner into hell, to be tortured forever and ever. These images can cause an inner paralysis of the soul, keeping one a prisoner of these projections. It is not possible to love what is feared, nor to trust, to placate yes, but to love and trust, no.

It takes a lot of courage to be able to face up to these idols and to dethrone them, and it is grace that allows this to happen. For it is in the facing up to these false images, that God slowly draws us to Himself. We are taught that God is love, then oftentimes, after that statement is made, we are given a very large ‘but’, which nullifies any idea about love. So many have a rough road in unlearning false images, often taught by those also afflicted. There is no condemnation in this, for I think most people struggle with images of God, which cause much interior suffering. There are those of course who are free of this, and we should surely listen to them when they speak of God’s love. I am not one of them, for I have had a long struggle with what I call “the spider God”.

Self loathing, hatred, despair, self centered worry is not from the Holy Spirit, it is from our own broken and tormented self’s, who on some level think that this sort of thing is a form of humility, when it fact it is the opposite. For humility is something based on truth, and the basic truth of our Christian and Catholic faith, is that God is Love, period. Infinite love to be exact, an ocean without beginning or end, all poured out for you dear reader. Now this can be hard to understand, well it is impossible, I can’t, yet it should give us courage to go forward knowing despite all the inner clamor; that we are loved. We are called to make deep acts of faith and trust in this reality, until slowly we become to experience the freedom from too much self concern, which is narcissistic to the core.

Br. Mark Dohle, OCSO
Holy Spirit Monastery

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