Friday, July 30, 2010

What is Wisdom?

A priest at my church gave a homily several weeks ago in which he said that someone had said wisdom was the taste for goodness. That phrase got locked in my brain and now I'm searching for the original definition and who originally said it.
What I have found is Old Testament-St. David, St. Augustine, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, and a lot of common sense wisdom from my mother. You can read the full article here. The specific words I googled are high-lighted.
St. David says in Psalm 118:66: "Teach me goodness and discipline and knowledge." After reading the book of Wisdom by David's son Solomon, I think those three things pretty much sum up what wisdom is. Wisdom, being a good thing, naturally has goodness as a part of it. Discipline, as is explained in chapter 6 of the Book of Wisdom, leads to Wisdom and it helps us to be willing to follow Wisdom's laws, which leads us to heaven, our final destination. From the beginning of recorded thought, with Socrates and Aristotle and what not, Wisdom has been seen as a step up from knowledge, thought different philosophers have defined this 'step up' differently. My mother has said that the step up is the ability to use knowledge for the good of other people. I think my mother is very close to the truth; her idea combines all three elements stated by David: knowledge- a thing of our intellects, put into our action- that would entail discipline, for the good of others.
St. Augustine and St. Bernard of Clairvaux give some sensory language to their understanding of what wisdom is. The version of the Bible which St. Augustine used had the word 'sweetness' instead of 'goodness' in Psalm 118:66. So St. Augustine read 'Teach me sweetness...' From this he realized the necessity of experiencing the sweetness of Christ before being able to handle the hardships of following Christ. My mother often compared the spiritual adventure to God handing us a bowl of candy. Day by day He removes more of the candy till there is an empty bowl; that is when He asks us to follow Him for His sake, that our love be purely centered on Him and not on anything else. St. Bernard of Clairvaux adds to this concept when he says, "where there is love there is found not labor but flavor." St. Bernard sees wisdom as that which makes the journey sweet and makes the soul able to taste what it is meant to taste. "When wisdom enters it renders dull the carnal sense, purifies the intellect, heals and restores the palate of the heart. So that now, having a healthy palate, it has a taste for the good." This makes a tone of sense when considered in the light of how Christ compared heaven to a feast and in the light of the Eucharist.

"To taste and see that the Lord is sweet- that is wisdom." So wrote St. Bernard. So wisdom then is a taste for what is good (for the Lord is the ultimate good) (When Plato wrote of The Good, he had a beginning grip of the concept of one, benevolent God.) Let us complete this view of wisdom, which looks on wisdom in terms of taste, by seeing how knowledge and discipline fit in.
Knowledge fits in if it is the right kind of knowledge. The right kind would be that which leads us to the Lord and so helps us to reach that for which we hunger and thirst. In the Litany of the Holy Spirit, one line is "Holy Spirit, grant us the only necessary knowledge." (Wisdom, btw, is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.) St. Bernard wrote:
"[The milk of contemplative prayer is better] than the wine of worldly knowledge which, to be sure, is inebriating, but with curiosity, not with charity. It fills us up but does not nourish; it puffs up but does not edify, it replenishes but gives no strength."
Discipline fits in because it is through discipline that we persevere and trust in our spiritual adventure. Discipline gives us the strength to keep going and to realize, beyond our pain, that it is sweet to seek for the Lord. Discipline gives us the ability to not question but to trust the Lord to lead us to Himself. If we can discipline our rebellion and our impatience and our curiosity to know about everything now, then we can persevere till death.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wisdom Chapter 1

My spiritual director suggested I read from the Bible every morning. So I have been, kind of. Anyway, after I read I write my thoughts, and I thought I might share them.
So here is the link to chapter 1, Douay-Rheims translation.
And here are my thoughts on Wisdom Chapter 1:

There is discord between what is good, simple, and alive and what is evil, complex, and seeking death. The first part of this chapter speaks of how people who are good and simple are aided by God. Simplicity is often considered a sign of foolishness, yet in the context of serving God (and not one's self) it is good. It makes on e open to Him and willing to accept Him and admit we need Him.
The second part is all about the corruption of the unjust and how God does not help them. God is almost too polite, the way He lets us push Him away. But that's how love is - it accepts and knows when it is unaccepted.
Finally, this chapter speaks of destruction versus how God made us to exist. It often takes incredible strength to be OK with existing, and again simplicity helps. Sometimes the answers to life's questions seem too simple or short, and it feels like one must keep looking for more, but that only adds unwanted complications. It takes resignation to be simple, because it means being more reliant on God. But as the first part of the chapter says, it is with simplicity that we find God and in simplicity that He aids us.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Joys of Having a Best Friend

A while back I did a really sarcastic post called the joys of college. But this is a for real post:

The Joys of Having a Best Friend

Dedicated to 'Ardhoniel' on her return from camp

When there's no one to talk to, there is your best friend.
When you're wishing someone would remember you and do something to show they care,
when you least expect it, your best friend does something incredibly sweet.
When you wish you weren't so alone, your best friend calls.
When no one seems to care to listen, your best friend does;
even if she doesn't give a darn about what you're saying,
she listens because she is your best friend.
When you want desperately to be able to have someone to love,
to dedicate all your life and energy to, there is your best friend.
When you desire a companion, and when you desire to be a companion,
through thick and thin, she is there.
When your life seems hollow and meaningless, she is there to give to.
When there are words to write, but no one to write them for, she is there.
When there are posts to type, but no one to type for, she is there.
When there are prayers to be prayed, but no one to pray for, she is there.
When there are tears to shed, but no one to shed them for, she is there.
When there is laughter, but no one one to laugh for, she is there.
When you want a reason to run and there's no one to run for, she is there; and even though it's really hot out and you're going down a highway you can run because she is finally home from camp and she's so contagiously happy!