Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Unattainable by reason

By means of art we are sometimes sent - dimly, briefly - revelations unattainable by reason. Like that little mirror in the fairy tales - look into it, and you will see not yourself but, for a moment, that which passeth understanding, a realm to which no man can ride or fly. And for which the soul begins to ache...

-- Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Scandalous immanence

For nearly a year, my friend DiDi has heard God directing her to tell me that I am "more". This message helped pave the way for releasing me into His dream, and has helped keep me on the path when gale force winds have tried to push me from it.

The message comes less often as I increasingly step out, and I hadn't heard it in a while. But yesterday morning He told her to say it again, and so, obediently, she did. She feels a little foolish repeating it, knowing that I've heard it before. We don't understand why she needs to say it over and over. But DiDi's faith is huge and she submits. And I listen, and am grateful for the affirmation.

Yesterday morning He told her to tell me again, and so she did. I listened, thought "Isn't that nice." and went about my business.

We'd attended Saturday evening mass the night before, and so decided to check out The Father's House church that day, based on some comments I'd heard earlier in the week. I've been interested in experiencing various forms of worship to better understand the breadth and variation of the Body, and to contemplate what our Lord would have me do to continue working toward unification.

It was a fascinating experience, potentially the topic of it's own post. For now I'll just say that it's a mega church which targets young people and very effectively makes use of societal trends and technology to preach the good news. But all that is not really the point of this post.

The point is that at the back of the long stage that stretched nearly the entire width of the auditorium (for lack of a better word) was a giant, 3-dimensional white word. Spelled out in 6 foot blocky white letters was the word:

MORE

At each end of the stage hung additional banners on which were projected the words "Made for More".

In His love, and in His typical style of potentially dismissible co-incidence, He lined things up to both underscore His message to me, and to reassure DiDi of her role.

At first she didn't get it. Even when I pointed out the sign to her it didn't click. There was so much sensory input that she was caught up in experiencing all that was going on around and in front of us. But then the lightbulb went on and I think she was even more floored than I.

We floated through the drive back home, marveling at how once again He lined up events to show us His favor. He sends bishops to bless our Catholic journey, and literal larger than life signs to encourage our obedience and build our trust.

It blows my mind how intimately He cares for us, and how closely He walks with us.

Such scandalous immanence.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Happy Anniversary

I wonder if the Spirit descending at Pentecost was a reunion with Mary?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Sweet into sweet

Whipped cream melting
into cocoa
your touch dissolving
into me
the two distinct
then swirling
into one

--Chantelle Franc

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Forgive me Lord, that I did not

A haunting thing occurred at mass a few weeks ago.

As I approached the altar to recieve Him in most Holy communion, I watched the very blood of Christ leap up as if to greet me, spilling itself on the floor in an expectant pool. I watched as someone, not knowing, hurried forward with a paper towel to wipe up the precious spill.

The deacon of the mass stopped him before such a thing took place, praise God.

I hesitated for a moment and then lurched around the priest, rushing to the sacristy to find a suitable cloth. One of the altar guild appeared, knowing better where to look, and so I returned to recieve Him and to surreptitiously monitor the remainder of the cleanup.

The haunting comes from not following my instincts. I should have obeyed the urge to get down and drink Him directly from the floor.

Forgive me Lord, that I did not.

It was an opportunity to humble myself and lift Him from such an unworthy posture. A chance to receive Him in a way only few would have done throughout the ages. A moment of witness to those still waiting to drink what they thought was merely wine.

But I didn't do it. And the chance is gone, forever.

Forgive me Lord, that I did not.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Speak on

Let me listen to your voice
Beloved
sounding deep thoughts or shallow
speak on throughout the years
and when it wavers and wanders
with the weariness of age
keep speaking
till my ears grow cold.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A blessing of departure, and of welcome

Today began my search for a church parish in which to complete the final leg of the journey to Rome.

Last Sunday our Lord made clear that the time to leave the CEC had come, and so this morning was bittersweet. A day of endings and beginnings, of sadness and excitement.

This morning was amazing.

It opened and closed with blessing. As we left the house, my dear friend, wife of my BP, drove past on her way to church to ask which parish would get to have us today. Her cheerfulness was like the embrace of a mother on the first day of kindergarten, giving me courage to step out, and reassuring me that her love and approval would always be there.

The Catholic church was pretty. Not small, not big. Not ostentatious, not casual. White walls, lovely stained glass, and frieze-style stations of the cross circling the sanctuary. A beautiful organ and brass prelude was played. I noticed a priest walking up the side aisle. His face looked familiar, and his pink zucchetto made me recognize that it was Bishop Matthew Clark (our bishop here in Rochester, NY).

The Right Reverend opened his homily by saying "Don't worry; nothing is wrong." His appearance as celebrant was clearly unusual, and the congregation must have wondered if the church was about to be closed. He had not celebrated there in over three years. The last time had been at the anniversary mass of one of the parish priests. Bishop Clark explained that he'd had no other commitments for this particular day, and just decided to come and pray with this communion because he hadn't done so in a while.

His homily focused on Luke 14:5-33; the cost of being a disciple. He spoke of having to leave family and friends and possessions. All the things I've been dealing with in the past 6 months, first within my nuclear family, then with my church family. He told us to be ready for God to call us to the newer, the deeper, and warned us that it would not always be easy.

Unbelievable.

At the conclusion of the mass, His Grace came slowly up the center aisle, greeting people as he went. When he reached us, I explained that it was our first day in the first church of our search for a new home, and asked for his blessing. He gave it, graciously.

Our God is lavishly, astonishingly, abundantly generous.

Before entering this season of disruption and heartache, He asked which road I would choose; the one that would be easier but which would save fewer souls, or the one which would be more difficult but which would save more.

I answered that His will should be done.

It has not been easy, and it will not be. There is much pain and disruption still to come. The cost is indeed family, friends, and possessions.

But the rewards.... The rewards are staggering. He is already pouring out joy and blessing more abundantly than I could ever have imagined. I did not ask to be compensated for obedience, but He rewards my desire to do His will in ways I could never have dared dream.

Today was a good day. A day of endings and beginnings. A day which began and ended with a blessing. A blessing of departure, and a blessing of welcome.

Our God is a great God.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Like blood from a wound

Love is not a tap. It flows and flows like blood from a wound, and you can die of it.

--Chitra Banerjee Divakuruni

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The throbbing heart of the New Testament

God desires and is pleased to communicate with us through the avenues of our minds, our wills, and our emotions. The continuous and unembarrassed interchange of love and thought between God and the souls of the redeemed men and women is the throbbing heart of the New Testament.

-- A. W. Tozer

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A quote which seems to fit this summer

Quote du jour, spoken recently by a pastor at a friend's church:

"If you aren't catching any fish, it might be time to clean your net."

Friday, August 27, 2010

Watching as the cage door springs open

I've been thinking about St. Peter being freed from prison by an angel, and wondering if any of his friends remained behind. If so, did they resent the angel for taking him from their midst? Did they resent Peter for leaving them behind? Did they recognize the opportunity for freedom themselves?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Contentment is not by addition

I remain in a season of being still.

In the meantime, here's a quote for the day/month/season:

Contentment is not by addition but by subtraction: seeking to add a thing will not bring contentment. Instead, subtracting from your desires until you are satisfied only with Christ brings contentment.

-- Jeremiah Burroughs

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Omnificence unfolding in purple striation and sparkling water

Omnificence.

Good word, eh?

DiDi invented it last night, after asking me to use one word to describe the undescribable beauty of the sunset over Lake Michigan.

It was perfect. Magnificence combined with vast, ubiquitous knowledge.

He is all knowing, all present, all powerful.

And all beautiful.

Omnificent.

I love it.



(Found the term in a few dictionaries BTW, defined as "unlimited in creative power". I like DiDi's usage better.)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Saved by hope

Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by hope.

--Reinhold Niebuhr

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Joanna Trollope on fulfillment

I hope never to feel completely fulfilled because then the point of the journey would be destroyed. You have got to have curiousity, hunger, and slight anxiety.

--Joanna Trollope

Sunday, June 27, 2010

On the Coronation of Christ

The passage below is a reflection on the coronation of Christ, written at the request of my BP back in November.

I hope to be writing more soon. Life remains...

***

I see a body of people, walking behind Christ through a throng of Holy ones which surrounds us. We pass through a gate made of a huge, single pearl. The path is of sparkling gold, but I can see through it to the earth below. We are led by Jesus toward the altar, upon which is the bloodied body of a lamb. The crowd rejoices as we walk, singing hosannas. The air is so thick with incense that I can feel it traveling like warm water over my lips and down my throat.

He reaches the altar and those of us who follow part to each side in front of the crowds of saints. He lifts the lamb, cradling it in his arms, then rests His head on His head, and breathes.

The bloody spots on the white wool disappear, and the lamb begins to move, shifting his legs, and eventually lifting His head. He gazes into the eyes of Jesus, peacefully. Then Jesus sets Him down, and He runs to His mother, capering and leaping on the way.

As He watches, Jesus slowly lifts His arms, raising them to the even higher heavens, and glory fills the place, surrounding and centering on Him. He is once again transfigured, and a bright circle of glowing light appears where the crow of thorns had lain. As I watch, it begins to move slowly upward, shifting into position above His head; no longer a crown of pain, but one of glory and honor and power.

And then He casts His eyes upon us.

His people.

He finds my eyes out of all the crowd. He comes toward me, arms stretching to take my hands. And then He is before me, gazing at me, face to face, His eyes so full of love that I think my heart will break from the joy of it.

He leans toward me and presses His lips against mine, filling me with His breath.

He lifts His hands to my head, which has begun to burn with a circle of fierce and terrible heat. As His hands move higher, the circle lifts and the pain is suddenly gone. I am so filled with love and awe and life and wonder that I can do nothing but stand quivering before Him.

He moves on to the next person who had walked behind Him, and I watched quivering, steeped in joy.

On and on He went, crowning each one to join the band of the Holy ones, the crowd of which we had passed through.

And I realized that in His crowing, His coronation, He crowns us. Moment by moment everlasting throughout and without time.

I still stand in that place of glory now...

(I wonder if there is a merging of time and timelessness at the moment of death, the coronation moment, when eternity somehow halts to let you in?)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Psalm 30

You have turned my mourning into dancing;
you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
so that my soul may praise you and not be silent.
O Lord, my God, I will give thanks to you forever.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Pain and hope

I never imagined experiencing restoration and heartbreak unfold simultaneously. It is a weird and painful and wonderful thing.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Saying Grace

Oh Lord
take this food
for the nourishment of our bodies
and us
for the nourishment of Yours.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

I choose hope

I read St. Paul talking to the Thessalonians about caring for them the way a mother nurses her own children, and my heart aches at being separated from mine.

He describes care so deep that his companions shared not only the gospel, but also their very selves, because the people had become so dear to them.

That's what mothers do; share their very selves with their dear ones.

The would give -all- if they could. Most try to.

I know that I tried to.

For now I share in Paul's pain at separation, and join him in praying for their peace and protection and goodness and holiness.

I thank the Father that He is a God of restoration. And I choose hope.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Not only water

I've been thinking about Peter, walking across the water to Jesus who called to him during a terrible storm.

The waves and lightening and wind must have been terrifying, even while sitting in the relative safety of the boat. Imagine the courage it would take to step out.

Amazing.

Most people would call it insane.

In addition to the terror of heaving his frame over the edge and taking step after step forward, I wonder what he could see under the surface. I picture the sea teeming with leviathans of all shapes and sizes, trying to stop his act of faith, just as the first one did in the garden. I picture all forms of ugliness threatening him, trying to catch his gaze, to make him take his eyes off Christ, and sink.

But as He always does, Jesus called. And saved. Again.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Feed me?

Yesterday it struck me for the first time that Christ is both lamb and shepherd. Not sure why I didn't think about it before; it is such a strange contradiction.

He also calls -us- both. He tells us that we are either sheep or goats (neither particularly flattering), but also tells us to feed His lambs.

Interesting.

Monday, April 26, 2010

I was in NYC this week, playing tourist. The two highlights were St. Patrick's Cathedral and the Cloisters.

I have frequently heard the complaint that the Roman Catholic church has too much money, as illustrated by the lavishness of the Vatican and cathedrals around the world. Visiting St. Patrick's reminded me of why these places should not be stripped bare, with contents sold to the highest bidder and the proceeds going to the hungry.

St. Patrick's is in the heart of mid-town Manhattan; the busiest city I have experienced. (Haven't been to Asia, but it's the most frentically crammed of cities I've visited in the US and a few other countries.) You walk in to a relative hush from the crowded sidewalk, and while the traffic noises are still audible, the difference is immediate. The space is huge, so while there are plenty of tourists wandering around trying unsucessfully to be quiet and respectful, it still manages to feel like a church rather than simply a tourist stop.

The beauty is everywhere, on floor and ceiling, in carved wooden arches, marble pulpits, soaring stained glass windows, statues... The scent of incense is present but not prominent. Small chapels encircle the primary sanctuary and nave, each one centering on a particular saint. The Pieta awaits contemplation of a mother's sorrow. Eucharistic adoration takes place in Mary's chapel.

But what caught me most were the people in the pews.

I didn't look extensively at them, there was so much else to look at. But now I wish that I had. One woman was clearly a street person. She was surrounded by suitcases, so many that I wondered how she managed to get from place to place. She must have a system. She sat on the end of a pew looking over some papers in her lap, and I'm guessing she had been there for hours. It made me wonder how warm such a huge space would get in the cold of winter, and how it must be lusciously cool in the summer heat.

Another man sat with his forehead resting on an arm on the pew in front of him. He looked like he might have stopped in during a lunch break from a custodial job in one of the nearby skyscrapers; tidy dark blue pants and shirt, sturdy shoes. Strong and capable, from what could be seen of his back. I never did see his face. But pain washed off him in waves as I walked past. He wasn't crying, or at least I don't think he was. There were no sounds, no heaving chest. Just a steady stillness, and pain you could feel in the pit of your heart.

I walked around this place of beauty and history and drama and pain, and thought of what a treasure it is. What a priceless thing to have such a place to enter without cost, no matter if you are a hotshot investor, gawking tourist, heartbroken wife and mother, homeless beggar, or anyone else from any walk of life from anywhere in the world.

A place of sanctuary and rest.

A place of solace and contemplation.

A place of beauty and dignity.

All free for all who enter.

The Cloisters cost $20, at the end of a long journey uptown, offering soundbyte-esque glimpses of Christian art out of context. Don't get me wrong, it was lovely in a 3D sacramental crazy quilt kind of way.

But St. Patrick's is Christian art in situ and in practice. A place where all can come to experience the transcendance and immanence of God. I thank Him for establishing a church which provides such treasures for His children.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

No need to leave

You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer
itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.

-- Franz Kafka

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The point of stories

From The Night is Far Spent:

The point of stories is enjoyment--even Oedipus and War and Peace. But stories do, in fact, echo our real-life situations. One way or another, everything does come down, in the end, to a very few issues: humility versus pride; peaceableness versus strife; generosity versus parsimony; fidelity versus perfidiousness; good cheer versus wrath; purity versus squalor in the inner man. And of course even that list can be boiled down to one contrast: love versus unlove. Heaven versus hell.

--Thomas Howard

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I do not want spiritual cream

Reminds me of previous posts on peaches.

From The Night is Far Spent:

...suppose the honey-colored stone we see in Costwold manor houses is only a sketchy hint of the real, solid thing awaiting us in the new heavens and the new earth. Or suppose the sweet tang of wild raspeberries is itself the thinned-down, subdued hint, given to us here temporarily, until we reach the state of being known as sanctity, where we will be able to sustain the hitherto insupportable bliss of real raspberries. (I myself hope there will be double cream from Jersy cows to flood our raspberries with, and I must say, I do not want spiritual cream.)

--Thomas Howard

Monday, April 19, 2010

Pale, diluted earthly metaphor

From The Night is Far Spent:

What if we don't marry in heaven because we will have won through, via the kindergarten lessons of marital fidelity, or of consecrated chastity, here in this realm, to that unimaginably blissful state of affairs where we will know all other selves with an ecstasy far, far outstripping the pale, diluted earthly metaphor of sex? What if sex is the hint--the metaphor--and its fulfillment in paradise, far from being an attenuation, is a great raising of the stakes, so that our elementary experiences down here in marital union will turn out to be just that: elementary?

--Thomas Howard

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It is not as a child that I believe and confess...

It is not as a child that I believe and confess Jesus Christ. My hosanna is born of a furnace of doubt.

-- Fyodor Dostoevsky

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bye bye

I've given up an idol.

A few days ago I cut my hair.

I'd worn it the same way for about 30 years, since I was 16.

Until now the thought of cutting my hair was terrifying. It was long, and mouse brown, and I'd somehow interconnected it with my personhood.

Now it is neither long (by the previous standard) nor brown. I don't think the new color is particularly flattering, and the cut is just ok. But it doesn't matter. I'm not traumatized.

Who I am is not in long hair, nor in any of the other things I've defined myself to be over the past years of coping.

An idol is gone, and in discovering that I survived the loss, it has become easier to breathe.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

153 kinds exalt Him

John 21 recounts Jesus making His posse breakfast on the shore. As part of the story, He gifts them with a superabundant catch of fish, after a night in which they had caught nothing.

Once the boys reach the shore, Jesus asks Peter to run back to the net and get more fish for the fire, on which some is already cooking.

Such homely tasks; making a fire ahead of time so that the coals are at the perfect stage for cooking. Preparing bread. Cleaning fish.

Amazing that the creator of the universe would do such things for us...

Today in thinking about this passage (one of my favorite demonstrations of His immanence), I wondered about the fish Peter brought back.

They must have been alive, fresh out of the water, still wriggling from the shock of capture and oxygen deprivation.

I wonder if they calmed at His touch. I wonder if they experienced some sort of fishly ecstasy.

If even the rocks cry out, could a fish exalt to be in the hand of God?

May I be happy to be so consumed.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Where were you Mother?

This week's readings led me to various gospel accounts of women coming to the empty tomb. I found it interesting that the Blessed Mother was not included in any of the lists.

Think about what it would have been like to go there that morning... The linen strips which had been hurriedly wrapped by the men when He was taken down must have been stuck on the wounds. The blood would have seeped through, congealed, and then dried.

Can you imagine going to one you loved so deeply a day or two after such a brutal death, and having to peel away the cloth from flesh already brutalized?

I've never spent time with the body of a loved one who has passed, let alone had to attend to their body and prepare them for interment. The thought of doing that for my child, and doing further damage to their battered body in the process, is incomprehensible.

And so I thought of Mary, His mother. Was it custom for the mother to do such a task?

I can think of two possible reasons for her absence.

Either it was just too painful and she was overcome with grief, so much so that she couldn't make herself go.

Or her Spouse told her that it was not necessary to go because He was risen.

The latter seems to make more sense. What do you think?

You have given us rule over the works of your hands

Quick follow up on the April 3, 2010 post, discussing our judgement of angels:

Psalm 8:4-7

When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you set in place--What are humans that you are mindful of them, mere mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them little less than a god, crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them rule over the works of your hands, put all things at their feet...

Monday, April 5, 2010

Particle by particle

Sacramental traditions typically institute a fast to be held prior to reception of the Eucharist, so that your body receives Him directly.

In receiving such a gift, it is hard not to want more. Particularly for the precious blood. When taking the chalice, it is hard not to want to gulp Him in.

(I don't do it, mind you, but Iwant to.)

The other day I wondered what would happen if you went to the service after drinking a glass or two of wine at home, having eaten nothing else for some hours. I imagine His precious blood entering and mixing with the wine, transforming it as it swirls, transubstantiation occurring particle by particle.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Judges of angels

During one of this week's services, I had some thoughts about evil spirits which I am going to tell you, despite knowing that some readers will print copies as proof of delusion.

Luckily, I believe the beatitudes, so damn the torpedos.

Darkness has been very apparent to me in recent weeks. I used to think it was just a product of nature and nurture, but over time, the personal particularity of evil has become more apparent. As a result, spiritual warfare has become an increasingly significant part of my prayer life.

While praying recently, I thought about 1 Cor 6:3, which says that we will be the judges of angels.

Think about what this means. Not only are we given the authority to cast out through the power of Christ. We are also to be judges.

Judges determine the outcome of the accused.

My understanding is that unlike humans, angelic beings are no longer being created. (Can't remember the biblical foundation for this, will have to dig it up.) Their numbers are therefore limited.

Imagine what would happen if all Christians began not only to pray against the evil working against their friends and family, but also to consign forces of evil to perpetual incarceration.

Would this help bring the kingdom to earth as it is in heaven?

Over time there would be fewer and fewer to wreck havoc in the world, and more and more people would be able to recognize the beauty and truth and light of God. Eventually there would be nothing left but beauty and life.

Like many of my thoughts, this is just a theory. But I like it, and am going to give it a try.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Readings for today; court at 2:30EST

God is good.

Is 50:4-9a

The Lord GOD has given me
a well-trained tongue,
That I might know how to speak to the weary
a word that will rouse them.
Morning after morning
he opens my ear that I may hear;
And I have not rebelled,
have not turned back.
I gave my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
My face I did not shield
from buffets and spitting.

The Lord GOD is my help,
therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame.
He is near who upholds my right;
if anyone wishes to oppose me,
let us appear together.
Who disputes my right?
Let him confront me.
See, the Lord GOD is my help;
who will prove me wrong?

Responsorial Psalm
69:8-10, 21-22, 31 and 33-34

R. (14c) Lord, in your great love, answer me.
For your sake I bear insult,
and shame covers my face.
I have become an outcast to my brothers,
a stranger to my mother’s sons,
because zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me.
R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.
Insult has broken my heart, and I am weak,
I looked for sympathy, but there was none;
for consolers, not one could I find.
Rather they put gall in my food,
and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.
I will praise the name of God in song,
and I will glorify him with thanksgiving:
“See, you lowly ones, and be glad;
you who seek God, may your hearts revive!
For the LORD hears the poor,
and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.”
R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.

Heb 12:1-3

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us
while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God. Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart.

Mt 26:14-25
One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot,
went to the chief priests and said,
“What are you willing to give me
if I hand him over to you?”
They paid him thirty pieces of silver,
and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,
the disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Where do you want us to prepare
for you to eat the Passover?”
He said,
“Go into the city to a certain man and tell him,
‘The teacher says, My appointed time draws near;
in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.”‘“
The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered,
and prepared the Passover.

When it was evening,
he reclined at table with the Twelve.
And while they were eating, he said,
“Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
Deeply distressed at this,
they began to say to him one after another,
“Surely it is not I, Lord?”
He said in reply,
“He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me
is the one who will betray me.
The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him,
but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.
It would be better for that man if he had never been born.”
Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply,
“Surely it is not I, Rabbi?”
He answered, “You have said so.”

The suffering servant

This week's OT readings center around Isaiah's suffering servant passages. On Sunday the Psalm was 22, which opens "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?"

Matthew's passion narrative includes this phrase (in 27:46), when Jesus cries it out at about the ninth hour.

The phrase bothered me coming from His mouth. How could God abandon Him?

He couldn't.

First off, God is love, and He is Jesus' Father. He would never forsake Him. He never abandons us, let alone His own son. We only think He does, and Jesus would never be so lacking in understanding and trust.

But more importantly, God -couldn't- abandon Jesus, because Jesus -IS- God.

It would not be possible for God to abandon Himself. When one person of the Trinity is there, all three are present.

So the concept of abandonment was not possible, nor logical, nor explicable. And yet there Jesus is saying it, in black and white.

But a few years ago I found the explanation.

In Jesus' day, the psalms were sung by good Jewish families, and Psalms were referred to by stating their first line. So when Jesus hung on the cross and and said "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" He was not asking the Father a question. He was reminding those on the ground below Him of Psalm 22.


Psalm 22 is a prophecy of His death. But it ends exultant in the triumph of His ultimate victory.

He was telling those who loved Him that that the scriptures were being fulfilled, but that Easter was coming and not to be afraid.

The explanation made sense. I was happy.

And then a few days ago, as I thought further about this around the supper table, it occurred to me that Jesus doesn't use the word God when communicating to the other persons of the Trinity. He refers to the Father, and to the Spirit, but not to "God".

So that further cemented it for me.

It is good when confusing things get cleared up...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Thank you mother

Thinking about Mary's relationships to the Trinity last night made me consider the power of her intercession in a new way. She not only asks her Son to do what she asks (ala the wedding at Cana), she also asks her husband, and her Father.

That's pretty powerful stuff.

Monday, March 29, 2010

For the record

One piece of ugliness in recent days was connected to this blog, and the fact that I write under a nom de coeur.

Eva David is a name I chose to use here because of other mission work that God had me doing at the time I began the blog.

So for the record, my real name is not Eva.

But all you read here is me. The real me. Regardless of name.

Those who know me by another name but never recognized the soul of Eva in my eyes and voice and heart, were not really interested in seeing.

And those of you who do see won't care much about the name.

Cover your ears young man

I am blessed during this season to be in a home in which dinner table discussion often centers around the readings of the day, or a mystery of the faith. Part of tonight's conversation was about the wedding at Cana. DiDi wondered what Mary's conversation with God must have been like.

How strange it would be to be Mary.

How strange her relationship with the Trinity. If it weren't for the reality of the three persons, it would seem nearly incestuous.

Three persons, one God.

The concept of three persons helps explain the mystery, but barely. To one person, the Father, she is daughter. To one person, the Spirit, she is spouse. To one person, Jesus Christ, she is mother.

How then would a conversation take place during her prayers?

Did she speak to one and ask Him to fill the others in?

How did the Father or the Spirit guide her as she considered urging Jesus to turn the water into wine?

Was the Son listening?

Did she do what we mothers do when something comes on TV that we don't want our kids to see; ask them to cover their eyes? Could she have asked Him to cover His divine ears to her prayers?

Holy week 2010

It has been over two weeks since I have been here. In that time, life has taken an unexpected turn, both ugly and beautiful.

I have never used this blog to work through the details of my family life, and this new shift will be handled no differently. God is carrying me more generously than I could ever have imagined, and while the pains are sharper, His confirmation that I am walking as He would have me walk is plentiful.

I hope to be back on later this evening to share some of the things He has been whispering despite (and through) the roaring storm.

Thank you for your prayers. I pray that your Holy Week will be a profound experience of Him for each of you.

Eva

Friday, March 12, 2010

Alone and yet not alone

It has been a long time since I went to Him in the waterfall, which is stupid, given how much I need to hear from Him, and to get His direction and counsel.

I thought about this this morning, and imagined Him waiting there alone. Imagined Him exposed in the Blessed Sacrament, alone on the altar. I thought about the intense wrongness of such an abandonment.

And I apologized, not that it makes it any better.

In His love, He whispered that it was all right. That others visit Him there.

How beautiful a thought; that in and out of centuries, people meet Him there in meditation. They go to him in the place that I thought was mine, even though He was the one who wove it as I opened my mind to receive Him.

Others also go to Him there.

Imagine that.

I appear once in a while and He greets me as if He has waited solely for me, all His days. In a way, He has. But...

Imagine a monk from 1,106AD coming in humility each day, to rest in His presence.

Imagine a Celtic warrior princess visiting to request help with battle strategy.

Imagine a little child from 278AD Galilee climbing on His knee to be cuddled.

Imagine the mantra of a Hindu guru carrying him there, to this place of divine union.

How interesting that this place He created for me, He also created for others, and that even when I am there with Him alone, it is filled with the presence of His beloved ones, time out of time.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Proverbs 4:23

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sojourner Reports

Beloved reader,

In support of what I hope will be a new ministry, I have begun a new blog which you can find here:

http://sojournerreports.blogspot.com

You are invited to follow it if you would like. Debate about potentially polemical issues are welcomed.

Peace be with you,

Eva

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Knowing and being fully known

Regarding the previous post, I suppose that Augustine/Aquinas must have been talking about 1 Corinthians 13:12:

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

In Your Eyes

I heard an interview this morning from one of the Twisted Mystics, talking about the song In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel. The guest referred to a concept put forward by either St. Augustine or Thomas Aquinas, about the desire to see the beloved, and to be seen. Unfortunately I can't find the actual quote! If I do come up with it, I'll post it separately.

In the meantime, here are the lyrics.

In Your Eyes

Love I get so lost, sometimes
Days pass and this emptiness fills my heart
When I want to run away
I drive off in my car
But whichever way I go
I come back to the place you are

All my instincts, they return
And the grand facade, so soon will burn
Without a noise, without my pride
I reach out from the inside

In your eyes
The light the heat
In your eyes
I am complete
In your eyes
I see the doorway to a thousand churches
In your eyes
The resolution of all the fruitless searches
In your eyes
I see the light and the heat
In your eyes
Oh, I want to be that complete
I want to touch the light
The heat I see in your eyes

Love, I don't like to see so much pain
So much wasted and this moment keeps slipping away
I get so tired of working so hard for our survival
I look to the time with you to keep me awake and alive

And all my instincts, they return
And the grand facade, so soon will burn
Without a noise, without my pride
I reach out from the inside

In your eyes
The light the heat
In your eyes
I am complete
In your eyes
I see the doorway to a thousand churches
In your eyes
The resolution of all the fruitless searches
In your eyes
I see the light and the heat
In your eyes
Oh, I want to be that complete
I want to touch the light,
The heat I see in your eyes
In your eyes in your eyes
In your eyes in your eyes
In your eyes in your eyes

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Blessed Mother, pray for me

Relationship struggles have intensified over the past few weeks and I have been torn about God's will for me. He has me in a holding pattern, suspended in distance and anger. I keep lifting my heart to ask if I am to revert to my normal response (compassion, mercy, kindness). But I keep hearing "Wait".

It is bizarre.

I see how He is using it to do His work, but it is still bizarre and counter to what He normally asks.

So I wait for further instructions, and pray that I will hear Him when He speaks.

My prayer continues to be that I do His will. That I am open to it. That I am like clay rather than marble.

I will obedience.

But my heart sings another song.

My heart hurts. It is tired. Worn out. Wrung out. Broken and glued together into disfigurement.

It hurts.

I was thinking about all of this while praying this morning.

My prayer to the Father is always that I be strengthened to do His will. No matter what.

I want that prayer. Truly.

But this morning I was given a gift. I was shown that I can pray to my mother, His mother, another way.

With her I can pour out my heart, and ask for her help. I don't have to be careful to pray for the right things the way I usually do. She is Mother. She is woman. She understands that while I long for obedience, I also long for peace and comfort and a simple life of quiet joy. She knows that I won't be rash or headstrong, but that I do need to be able to ask for things that I want. I even need to vent.

For some reason, it is hard to ask the Father. For Him I want only to be holy. With her, I can admit to wanting to be happy.

She is mother.

Blessed Mother; pray for me.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Prayer of Abandonment

Father
I abandon myself into your hands;
do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you:
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me,
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.

Into your hands I commend my spirit;
I offer it to you
with all the love of my heart.
For I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.

--Brother Charles de Foucald

Speak Lord, for your servant is listening

I think our Lord is about to launch me into a new ministry. Please pray for me in this.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pick up your pyre and follow Me

I taught a class on suffering and joy last night, and am still thinking about it today.

This morning's thoughts expanded on the idea of our being called to carry the cross.

The key of course, is sacrifice. We have a God who demands sacrifice. It's true that Jesus once and for all time became the ultimate sacrifice, the final lamb. But the sacrifice continues. It is once and yet still. It is always. Perpetual. And He calls us to join in.

He calls us to carry our cross the way He carried His.

The way Isaac carried the bundle of sticks intended for his funeral pyre.

We become the body of Christ, and are called to participate in His passion and death. We are called to BE sacrifice.

But something has happened over the last century or so. We've shrugged off our willingness to participate. So much of Christianity has turned completely away from this essential tenet. So many denominations and churches focus on a cross-less Christianity, a fictional feel-good version of the real thing. A comic book version. We have altar-less altar calls, cross-free sanctuaries, and ministers with no priestly duties.

We have a  God who demands sacrifice, worshiped by a people who have largely rejected it.

Lord, what would you have me do?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I am sorry, and thank you

from 2/18/10

I am in a season of inflicting pain.

It has been a long time since I inflicted so much, and so deep.

Pain like this is a double edged sword, cutting also the one who wields it.

He has mostly protected my heart, surrounding it in a protective cacoon, distancing it from the hurt enough to be survivable.

This morning I prayed about it. I asked forgiveness for the pain I am causing, and gave thanks and praise for how He is already working through it in the one who is the target.

How strange it seems to feel both. How strange it is that He works through pain so much.

Inside their very shell

She did not talk to people as if they were strange hard shells she had to crack open to get inside. She talked as if she were already in the shell. In their very shell.

-- Marita Bonner

Friday, February 19, 2010

On co-creation

A wondering from sometime past:

I think perhaps the reason that Lucifer and his equally delusional host fell was a very particular form of jealousy.

I think that when the Father decided to make man, the angel of light got ticked off. Sure he pretended to disdain our bodies with all their incumbent demands and messiness. But in reality, He was jealous.

You see, we are the only creatures in all of the created order, seen and unseen, physical and spiritual, who co-create new spiritual beings with Him. With Him we work to populate eternity with new souls, souls who can also choose to love and serve Him.

Or not.

Despite his puffed up braggadocio, his claims at superiority, Lucifer was pissed.

So off to the garden he went, tempting fruit in hand, to prove that he still had some measure of control. And he's still hard at it, pulling us into his maelstrom of envy and fear and pride and anger. Trying to get us to stop the co-creation, or at the very least, to distort it into malignancy, and succeeding in many cases. Getting us to kill the newest souls before they leave the safety of their mothers' wombs.

How he must laugh, and brag, and ridicule us for our gullibility. In watching us swallow his lies like vitamins, how assured he must be of his superiority.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Grant that I may not so much...

I've been thinking about how much easier it is to love, to give love, than to receive it.

St. Francis calls us to it in his prayer:

Grant that we may not so much seek to be loved, as to love.

It seems good advice all around.

Loving rather than being loved is not merely more of a gift, more of a self-donation. It is also less painful. By a long shot.

Perhaps that is why God -is- love. Perhaps that is how Yeshua stands the pain of rejection throughout eternity, and doesn't anhialate all the universes in a cataclysmic explosion of grief.

He loves. He is love. He seeks to love.

Grant me, Lord, that I may not so much seek to be loved, as to love.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday

I read the following this morning, and found it tremendously comforting:

He remembers that we are dust.
(Psalm 103:14)

On Eucharistic Adoration

An Hour In Paradise

Look upon the hour of adoration assigned to you
as an hour in Paradise.
Go to your adoration
as one would go to Heaven,
to the divine banquet.
You will then long for that hour
and hail it with joy.
Take delight
in fostering a longing for it in your heart.
Tell yourself, “In four hours, in two hours,
in one hour, our Lord will give me an audience
of grace and love.
He has invited me;
He is waiting for me;
He is longing for me.”

- Fr Vincent Martin Lucia

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Saturday, February 13, 2010

She who was not afraid

I've been looking at gospel accounts of angelic visitation, and while I didn't do an exhaustive study to make sure I got them all, I noticed something interesting.

The angels consistently began their communication with "Do not be afraid." It must be a frightening thing to encounter such a spirit. Zechariah, Peter, Mary Magdalene, all were told not to be afraid.

The interesting thing is the exception. Gabriel did not open this way to Mary at the annunciation. Instead, he honored her, saying "Hail, oh highly favored one."

Gabriel must have been ready to burst (if an angel can be filled with excitement and joy), holding back what he knew about who she was, and who she was to become.

Joy on the cliff of despair

For happiness one needs security, but joy can spring like a flower even from the cliffs of despair.

--Ann Morrow Lindbergh

Friday, February 12, 2010

Chosen both despite and through

What must it have been like for Jacob, obeying the command of his mother to steal his father's blessing?

"May God give you of heaven's dew
and of earth's richness—
an abundance of grain and new wine.

May nations serve you
and peoples bow down to you.
Be lord over your brothers,
and may the sons of your mother bow down to you.
May those who curse you be cursed
and those who bless you be blessed."
(Gen 27:28-29)

What would it have been like to commit such a gravely sinful act, and have it turn out to be such a pivotal part of the unfolding of salvation history?

Did he have any concept of what God was doing?

Did he ache from guilt, while at the same time raising himself to the calling to which he was called?

Isn't it amazing that the Father selected him, not merely --in spite-- of what he did, but in fact, through it?

God often works through us despite our sinfulness, but in this case, the sin itself was part of what He called Jacob to be. The stolen blessing made him the chosen one.

Lord, I love you. May you so also work in my life. May any sins I commit further your purposes.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

No easy yes

I've been thinking about the freeing of an incarcerated Peter, as described in Acts 12:6-11.

I imagine that Peter was content to remain in jail, if that were God's will, even though a jail of that era must have been a dirty, cold, forsaken place. I'm sure he knew well what Paul later described in detail; the honor and glory of sharing in his Lord's sufferings, for His purposes.

But God had other plans, and sent an angel to free him.

He must have been afraid. Afraid that worse pain and perhaps even death awaited outside, in the form of two guards, rather than freedom.

He could have remained there, questioning what the angel meant. He could have argued scrupulously with the angel about his need to participate in Christ's time of imprisonment, and stayed there.

Did he have time for an internal dialog, debating the risks?

What would have happened if he said NO to the angel?

What would have happened if he stayed there, shackled in darkness?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

His face

I nearly forgot: while pouring out the spirit in prayer in the Jacksonville church a few weeks ago, I saw Christ's face behind my eyes. It was strange; I never envision His face.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Word happens

While at the church in Jacksonville, I prayed in tongues while trying to pour His spirit up and out of His temple.

In the past, I had always thought that charismatics prayed in tongues to call Him down upon them. Asking Him to fall. And that is what many (most? all?) are asking.

But as I prayed in this way, focusing on pouring Him out while letting prayer pour from my lips, He explained that this is a way of further unleashing Him from within. It is a way of speaking the Word wordlessly.

In some situations, He chooses to take over further, and it turns from our prayer to His. He speaks.

The Word speaks.

And in these charismatic gatherings, when warrior temples pray in tongues and the Spirit seems to fall, I think that it is more than falling. He rises within and speaks and His power is made manifest.

When God speaks, things happen.

Creation happens.

Destruction happens.

Healing happens.

Deliverance happens.

The Word happens.

Sometimes, when we pray in tongues, the Word happens.

Amazing.

Go to sleep in peace

Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones. And when you have finished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.

--Victor Hugo

Monday, February 8, 2010

Neither lamb nor throne

I attended a wedding on Saturday morning at a Presbyterian church.

It was through a Presbyterian church that our Lord called me a decade ago and so I carry a perpetual gratitude to that denomination. But my heart ached for it on Saturday as I looked around the church, and saw the position of the lectern.

The church was traditional, perhaps 100 years old or so, with wooden pews, two stained glass windows showing Jesus as shepherd, and not a crucified Christ in sight. I don't even remember seeing a cross...

At the front was a raised area, and the pastor moved to stand behind the lectern to deliver his word to us. Center stage.

The lectern was center stage.

This man's speech to us was the center of the worship service.

Not the cross, not the altar, not the lamb, not the body and blood shed for the life of the world. But the lectern.

Lord, may it be that some day soon all churches everywhere will return You to the center. May the world yearn to commune with you, and seek you. May they all eat of your body and drink of your blood, and so have eternal life.

And may I never stand in the way of anyone reaching you.

Two ways

There are two ways to get enough: one is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.

-- G. K. Chesterton

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The important thing

The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice that which we are for what we could become.

--Charles DuBois

Friday, February 5, 2010

6 year old wisdom

If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.

-- Nikka, age 6

Thursday, February 4, 2010

What will people think???

Jesus Freak

[What will people think
When they hear that I'm a Jesus Freak?
What will people do
When they find that's it's true?]

Separated, I cut myself clean
From a past that comes back in my darkest of dreams
Been apprehended by a spiritual force
And a grace that replaced all the me I've divorced

I saw a man with tat on his big fat belly
It wriggled around like marmalade jelly
It took me a while to catch what it said
Cause I had to match the rhythm
Of his belly with my head
'Jesus Saves' is what it raved in a typical tattoo green
He stood on a box in the middle of the city
And he claimed he had a dream

What will people think
When they hear that I'm a Jesus freak
What will people do when they find that it's true

I don't really care if they label me a Jesus freak
There ain't no disguising the truth
[ain't no disguising the truth, no I ain't hiding the truth]

Kamikaze, my death is a gain
I've been marked by my Maker
A peculiar display
The high and lofty, they see me as weak
Cause I won't live and die for the power they seek

There was a man from the desert with naps in his head
The sand that he walked was also his bed
The words that he spoke made the people assume
There wasn't too much left in the upper room
With scabs on his back and hair on his face
They thought he was strange by the locusts he ate
YOU SEE The Pharisees tripped when they heard him speak
Until the king took the head of this Jesus freak

People say I'm strange, does that make me a stranger
My best friend was born in a manger
People say I'm strange, does that make me a stranger
My best friend was born in a manger

What will people think
What will people do
I don't really care
[What else can I say]
There ain't no disguising the truth

The sound of joy

My church's mid week discipleship program started up again last night. The session this time focuses on joy. I'll be teaching in a few weeks, on joy in and through suffering; my favorite topic!

The first class talked a bit about what joy -is-, and what it is not.

During this discussion, someone asked about holy laughter, perhaps in response to the stories that DiDi and I have been telling from our trip.

I thought about this laughter, the sudden unleashing of inexplicable joy that bubbles up uncontrollably, pure gift from the Holy Spirit. A quick taste of the joy of heaven.

And I wondered if Joseph and Mary's household was given this gift. Did Jesus' home ring with the sound of this infectious joy?

Sunday, January 31, 2010

That's MY God

Another Holy Spirit moment from my recent trip.

Both DiDi and I have family in the area that we visited, and so our week was broken up between relaxation together and time with mothers and sisters and neices and nephews of every size. I had not been to an ocean in years, and so one of our goals was to spend some time on the beach. Our flight home was not scheduled till late afternoon, and so on that day we packed up all our gear and decided to go for one last hour or two at a beach before heading to the airport.

It was beautiful, and turning away was hard.

So hard in fact, that we ended up staying later than we should, and our frantic drive to the airport included a bit of hysterics on my part along with much rushing and hustling and scrambling. I've struggled lately with time, and have repeatedly underestimated times I've expected to get back from the grocery store, or from church, or from this or that event. Returning home an entire day late really would have been the icing on my cake of lateness.

I was wracked with guilt. DiDi would undoubtedly say I was overboard with it. (Might have had something to do with the farewell wine I'd consumed. But that's another tale for another day.)

We eventually arrived and rushed up to the desk to check our bags and check in. I looked a sight; all mascara-smeared cheeks, wind-tangled hair, and reined-in hysteria. The two airline reps looked at eachother and muttered "These must be the ones." They knew we were rushing, knew the flight we must be looking for, and also knew the connection we needed to make. They were bracing for the conversation that was about to take place.

"You DO know that your flight has been delayed, don't you?", the closest one said.

My jaw literally dropped to my chest.

I was saved.

Somehow, I had been saved.

But looking at them, I could tell there was more they had to say.

The rep braced herself again, then informed us that the next flight out would be too late to make our connection back home. We could not leave until the following day.

So not only was I saved from being my usual, lame, late self, I was also given an extra day with no familial obligations and nothing to do but relax with my closest, dearest, and most beloved friend.

I gaped a slack-jawed gape at DiDi, and saw that she was wearing the smug look she reserves for occasions when our Lord does something fantastic and stunning that knocks me sideways. The look that says "Yeah, that's MY God. You know it. MMmm Hmm." All casual while simultaneously bursting with pride.

The airline reps, beleagured from having to give bad news to customer after customer all afternoon, looked bewildered and one of them asked:

"You're happy about this???"

DiDi, being the cool chick that she is, God's comrade, Daughter of Thunder, calmly tossed back

"Answered prayer."

So that's the story of how I got to stay another day, to drive a convertable back toward the beach, to eat a lovely, relaxed meal in a nice restaurant, and to huddle wrapped in a blanket with the friend of my heart watching the sun come up over the ocean.

Imagine: the maker of that sun and that ocean and that incredible miraculous sand, desired to give -me- these gifts.

Yep. That's MY God.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Joy to you and me

I spent a blissful five days in Florida this past week, basking in 70 degree weather and the presence of awesome love. It would be impossible to catalog all of the ways in which God moved during this trip, but I'm going to try in a series of posts.

First, about the church service we attended.

It is always interesting to compare other services within the same communion (ICCEC) as ours. Some are higher church, some are more charismatic, some are close to us in the style of worship. In this case, the style was pretty similar. Several prayer teams were available after the Eucharist, and DiDi urged me to ask for prayer about a physical condition. The Holy Spirit was heavily present, and I stood behind her for the prayer -she- was receiving, because she was swaying with the weight of it.

When it was my turn, the woman prayed for the physical stuff, and after pausing, prayed that God would remove the little scrap of sorrow from me and replace it with joy. I had my eyes closed, but DiDi reported that when she spoke the words, her hand flung out toward me first as if to pluck something from my chest, and then whipped back as if slamming something in.

Joy immediately bubbled up within my chest, and a giggle snuck out of my mouth. At the same time, both DiDi and the prayer warrior also began to chuckle, and gradually, the laughter grew and grew between the three of us until we could not control it. We laughed until tears ran down our cheeks and our stomachs ached. We laughed as the recessional music played and the dismissal was announced. And through our laughter I heard the laughs of people behind us. DiDi later told me that when she looked around, she saw the whole congregation laughing.

The church was filled with His joy.

It was an awesome gift, delivered before what was to be a hard afternoon and evening. A profound gift of joy and laughter, not only for us, visitors to this far-away church, but also for His family who regularly gathered there. And for the woman who stood in obedience to pray for those who come before Him, seeking.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Missing you

Life seems to travel faster than the speed of light. God continues to speak, and me to try to listen. I hope to post something of substance later today. Miss you, beloved reader.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The tears of one, the pain of three

Yesterday's contemplation about the pain of restraining homosexual desires led to another.

I wondered; can God experience pain?

The answer of course is yes, but only in the person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus wasn't fully human and fully divine only while walking the earth. He didn't lose His humanity after His ascension. He remains fully both.

The hypostatic union continues.

This is how and why the Eucharistic celebration, the sacrifice of the Lamb, the transformation of bread and wine into His body and blood is perpetually celebrated.

He is.

It is this humanity that cried at Lazarus' tomb. It is this humanity that cries at all the injustice of the world. And it is this humanity that sorrows over the separation that we have from Him.

Can God feel pain?

Yes. In the person of Christ.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A mirror within a mirror...

My friend Laura recently blogged about homosexuality. Between the lines of what she wrote, I sense that she wants to trust in God's Biblically revealed truth about homosexual acts, but has trouble reconciling it with His love.

In thinking about this, it struck me that the pain that two people of the same sex who have fallen in love experience when committed to obeying God's word is the same as our Lord's pain for us.

It is the pain of self denial. The pain of restrained love. The pain of wanting to unleash love and comfort and giving and sharing but having to stop. Having to hold back out of a greater love, out of a greater desire for the best of the beloved. He could simply do it, simply unleash His love on all of us, and in doing so, remove our ability to chose to love Him in return. Instead, he gives us the opportunity to chose love ourselves, mimicking Him by also having to deny ourselves in order to fully accomplish that love.

And so our Lord aches to consummate, throughout the eons.

He must have a very special place set aside for those committed Christians who also ache to consummate with their mirror images, but do not.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

If I serve Thee...

From Lying Awake:

If I serve Thee in hopes of Paradise
deny me Paradise.
If I serve Thee in fear of hell,
condemn me to hell.
But if I love Thee for love of Thyself
then grant me Thyself.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Big Bang Redux

I was praying the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary last night on behalf of a friend, and was gifted with several interesting tidbits. I'll write about them in separate posts.

The first of the mysteries (and my favorite of all the mysteries) is the annunciation, the moment of Christ's conception. In previous meditations about the annunciation I focused on what must have been an ecstatic experience for Mary. It is beautiful to imagine what it must have been like to have the Holy Spirit fall on you in such a profound way.

But last night God asked me to wonder about what it had been like for Him.

And so I wonder; what must it have been like for our great and glorious God to become begotten? What was it like for Him to say a second time "Let there be light" and have the light of the world come in to existence?

Was this the second big bang?

Did He and the entire universe shudder in a great paroxysm of exultation and pleasure and wonder?

How much does our procreative process mimic His, and vice versa?

What must the ecstasy of God be like?

Isaiah on the Trinity

I've been thinking about this passage from Isaiah (9:6):

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

I've seen or heard it countless times, but never before realized that it so clearly presents the Trinitity.

Awesome when that happens...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Are you out there, Dr. Craven?

A blog that I loved (True West) was taken down a week or two ago, and I'm wondering if Dr. Ken Craven is still reading this, and if so, if all is well? I am missing reading his thoughts...
From Lying Awake:

Sister John opened a fresh notebook and began to write. Adoration welled up through the pain, closing of the gap between lover and Beloved. The force of his pesence curved eternity in on itself; it was not her love rising after all, but his love pulling her toward him. She fell upward into brilliance, where all suffering was released.

In the fire of his embrace, all that was her ceased to exist. Only what was God reamined.

I am

The cloister bell, the voice of Christ.

He spoke again:

I am

She tried to obey but was frozen in beauty, like a fly trapped in amber. She could not move.

Nothing exists apart from me.

Self had been an illusion, a dream.

God dreaming.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Nearly joy

From Lying Awake:

"Suffering borne by two is nearly joy."

Friday, January 8, 2010

Milk indeed

My beloved DiDi had some thoughts on milk and meat, one of which was particularly lovely.

She pointed out that Jesus instructed us to feed both sheep and lambs, and that spiritually young questioners are like baby lambs who need to be fed tenderly.

As babies, we are cradled and given milk at the soft breast. There is nothing more gentle than the suckling of a baby. She called what we do in feeding God's lambs "the caring and gentle guiding to the breast".

Lovely, no?

Hypostatic Reunion

Mass yesterday was powerful.

Weekday evening masses attract a small group, and BP's homilies in this setting tend toward the dialogic rather than the didactic. They are intimate; more family dinner than holiday feast.

It was in this setting that I sat, having just received the Eucharist, savoring His body melting into the precious blood in my mouth, and willing my taste buds to perceive beyond appearances.

It was then He made me to know that in coming to me, in entering my mouth, He experienced joy.

It was a holy reunion. Holy completion.

His body and blood were reunited with eachother, and with the Spirit residing within me. His body rejoining His body. A hypostatic reunion of the human and the divine.

It swept me off my feet, and to my knees.

And it is still sweeping me now.

(John 6:56)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Meat indeed

A woman in my discipleship group raised a question the other day, about how to respond to the query of if all roads lead to truth, why is Christianity any better? The question was posed graciously, perhaps by someone trying to satiate a hunger for truth with the pablum of new age spirituality.

It is a fair enough question. Reasonable.

All truth does come from God, and from Jesus more specifically, given that He -IS- truth.

I gave her the response that I use; agreement with the central premise of religions containing truth, but pointing out that each contains varying degrees and I want the most possible.

And then she asked the harder question: should she specifically raise the name of Jesus Christ.

That one is a toughee.

We are to be as wise as serpents and gentle as doves, and that means strategy. For some people, the concept of a "God" is embraceable, but the concept of Jesus just too much to handle. If we are wise about what will help these people grow closer to Him, we must discern that, and tell them enough to allow them to take another step forward. Then we pray for them, and rest in the hope that our Lord will water the seed and bring more opportunities as it germinates.

This all got me thinking about the scriptural concept of milk and meat. Some people are spiritual babies. They can only digest what they can digest. To such as these, we must provide milk. For now. Our God incarnate, Jesus the Christ, is meat.

This struck me as funny. In-carn-ate. Meat. I love all the humor our Lord included in His Word.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tsunami please...

More on the spirit coming forth rather than falling...

I thought about how some people seem to be channels, to be conduits of the Spirit's power. The physician/surgeon who leads our healing ministry at church is one such soul. People love to receive prayer from her because the Holy Spirit's presence is often very tangible.

You can feel it.

In certain charismatic settings the Spirit often acts powerfully. Our teens recently attended the Joshua Revolution in Niagara Falls, and came back with stories about people being knocked off their feet. I've seen it happen at retreats myself; people falling as if a wave strikes and takes them all down in a swoop. And I wondered about that. Why there and then?

I think He can and does choose times and places to fall, particularly when they have been set aside for the purpose of worshiping and experiencing Him.

But I think it may also have to do with those who are praying, even if they are not aware of what they are doing.

I think that some people, like our healing team leader, are able to draw the Spirit up and out of themselves, to unleash it on the people there for prayer. In a larger setting, like at Joshua Revolution, a bunch of people with these gifts are all in place, and so it happens on a broader, grander scale.

He probably also chooses to fall at these moments. I'm not discounting that. But I can't dismiss this new idea, this idea that He is rising up from them, and then from many of the attendees as well, till He swells like an ocean wave, and crashes in among them...

Let's pray for a tsunami.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Yet

by Switchfoot

(Listen here.)

All attempts have failed
All my heads are tails
She's got teary eyes
I've got reasons why

I'm losing ground and gaining speed
I've lost myself or most of me
I'm headed for the final precipice

But you haven't lost me yet
No, you haven't lost me yet
I'll sing until my heart caves in
No, you haven't lost me yet

These days pass me by
I dream with open eyes
Nightmares haunt my days
Visions blur my nights

I'm so confused
What's true of false
What's fact or fiction after all
I feel like I'm an apparition's pet

But you haven't lost me yet
No you haven't lost me yet
I'll run until my heart caves in
No, you haven't lost me yet

If it doesn't break
If it doesn't break
If it doesn't break
If it doesn't break your heart
It isn't love
If it doesn't break your heart
It's not enough
It's when you're breaking down
With your insides coming out
That's when you find out what your heart is made of

And you haven't lost me yet
No you haven't lost me yet
I'll sing until my heart caves in
No, you haven't lost me yet
Cause you haven't lost me yet

Monday, January 4, 2010

Let God Arise!

I am exulting in the action and presence of the Spirit in recent weeks. Since confirmation He has showered me with His presence and power.

My church is both liturgical and charismatic, offering validly consecrated Eucharist, healing prayer teams, and everything in between. While my own leanings have been toward the sacramental end, I have had quite a bit of exposure to charismatic worship and prayer.

What I have traditionally seen in charismatic settings is for the one who prays to "call down" the Holy Spirit, asking it to fall.

But we may have this backwards. Or if not exactly backwards, we may be missing a vital opportunity:

We should be asking the Spirit to come forth from us. To come out from the temple. We should be asking for it not to simply fall, but also to arise.

Such a fundamental thing to overlook; that we are God's temple, and that He dwells within us. We say it and believe it without actually understanding it. We forget that He is there, and that He wants to act in and through us. He loves working through His creation. He formed us in His own image and likeness, to do His work.

He wants to breathe on the world as He breathed on the disciples, sending out His Spirit through our very breath...

More on this to come.

Always

by Switchfoot

(Listen here.)

This is the start
This is your heart
This is the day you were born
This is the sun
These are your lungs
This is the day you were born

And I am always
always
always
yours.

And I am always
always
always
yours.

These are the scars
Deep in your heart
This is the place you were born
This is the hole
Where most of your soul
Comes ripping out
From the places you've been torn

And it is always
always
always
yours.

But I am always
always
I'm always
I'm always
yours.

Hallelujah!
I'm caving in
Hallelujah!
I'm in love again
Hallelujah!
I'm a wretched man
Hallelujah!
Every breath is a second chance

And it is always
always
always
yours.

And I am always
always
always
yours.