25 “BE BORN…IN SILENCE…A THOUSAND TIMES”
I am meditating again today on Pope John Paul II’s encyclical letter DIVES IN MISERICORDIA [On The Mercy of God] and my heart leaps at the radiant truth of:
The Cross is like a touch of eternal love upon the most painful wounds of man’s earthly existence. [ay]
This mid-Advent evening I return once more to the original notes as source material to continue this writing, my heart singing with gratitude that even now are my wounds being touched with the Cross — the kiss of His lips.
THE FIRST true spring rains of the season arrived during the night, applauded by thunder, backlit with lightening flash, dancing across valley ballroom a splendid cotillion, partnered by the wind !
When the ball had ended, the performers, long departed in their cloud-glass coaches beyond horizon hills, I went out onto the porch of this house of priests, breathed deep the fresh washed air, listening to the concert of frogs chanting their Matins at pond’s edge, down by the barns.
I sit here now, penning these thoughts, watch slow clouds drift across the, at this early hour, barely blue tinted sky.
Let us become like Christ since Christ became like us. Let us become gods because of Him, since He for us became man. He took upon Himself a low degree, that He might give us a higher one. He became poor, that through His poverty we might become rich (2Cor.8:9). He took upon Himself the form of a slave that we might be delivered from slavery (Phil.2:7&Rm.8:21). He came down that we might rise up. He was tempted that we might learn to overcome. He was despised that we might be given honour. He died that He might save us from death. He ascended to heaven that we who lie prone in sin may be lifted up in Him. [az]
My heart is moved, as I sit bathed in beauty, to reflect upon attentiveness to the Father through living and moving according to His Holy Will — like the wind, rain, clouds, chanting frogs — in a word, what we in this apostolic family call the duty of the moment.
The first thing that comes to my heart is the need to remember it is not a question of what, as in ‘ what am I to do in this moment ‘.
It is a matter of being aware of the ‘Who’ obedience is all about.
The duty of the moment is — for if it is not then it becomes a type of neurotic enslavement to a singular notion of self, and self-worth, based upon what I do — the duty of the moment is not what I do but rather who I am — a beloved responding to his Lover!
The duty of the moment is my response to my Divine Lover, and through Jesus who reveals His love in each moment of my existence, motivated by the Spirit of Love Himself, I come into communion of love with the Father.
In this Jesus Himself became obedient that we who are terrified of being, and thus become lost in doing, might be once more. [cf. Lk. 2:51; Jn. 4:34; Jn. 13:15]
Now, obviously, we can only be faithful to Jesus and do as He has done, in the duty of the moment, be penetrated by what De Caussade calls the ‘sacrament of the present moment ‘ if we are fully present to, in, the moment.
Yet in those days, so many decades ago when I was originally with The Community, I was far too wounded, neurotic, sinful, restless, fearful to be still, much less present enough in any moment, to experience but a minute speck of the above truth.
Partially the problem in those days too was the simple fact of youth — as youth we have a distorted sense of time — it either is the overwhelming slow moving phenomena barely grasped but experienced as a terrifying slow death, that is commonly called boredom – or – it is the fragile, tiny container into which we try relentlessly to cram maximum, and frequently un-discerned, experience, immediately!
Thus in our youth we rarely, if ever, consider time as something precious, for it can seem as limitless as the depths of oceans, rejecting any sober second thought that even oceans are limited.
Even less so do we consider time as a grace-love-gift from the Father, a precious and unrepeatable flow of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years which we are blessed with in the exact quantity necessary to frame the reality within which we might become saints.
Sin is a misuse of the grace of time, a waste of potential sanctification in the pursuit of no-thing-ness.
When we have some years of living, as I do now, ebbed and flowed through, we begin to appreciate the limit of this gift, the importance of being present to the totality of each moment of time.
We discover too how time itself, having been taken up into the heart of the Trinity by the Incarnation, is a constant duty of ours to participate in.
The sanctification of which we participate in by the fidelity and love we bring: our true baptized selves into the treasury of each moment.
..fantastic, incredible, holy words….THE DUTY OF THE MOMENT IS THE DUTY OF GOD…ANYTHING done for Him is glamorous, exciting, wondrous — if only we can see it for what it truly is! But we are human. And it takes a long time, my dearly beloved ones, to see reality through God’s eyes. Unless we pray exceedingly hard, it takes a long time to ‘make straight the paths of the Lord ‘in our souls. [ba]
Once again it becomes a matter of being with Him.
Inner spiritual training begins with these words of Christ, ‘When you pray, go into your room, and when you have closed the door, pray to your Father who is in secret. [bb]
Writing these lines today I am conscious these truths permeate my being because years of blessing have been poured into my being.
My trouble, and why eventually I would leave the faith and The Community, back in the sixties was simply I was too broken to retain anything I learned about true Gospel living.
I was both a dried sponge, which once placed in water, gorges itself until satiated, and a sieve.
I’d no sooner take in some truth when I would lose it.
Or spill it.
He did not live from the center as an affirmed son would, that blessed stance which is a more or less unconscious position…he lived very self-consciously out of a cluster of diseased attitudes and feelings toward himself. He was split. There was a terrible chasm of non-being within him. He therefore had the disease of introspection….stood, as it were, outside himself, analyzing, hating, rejecting, pitying, despairing over himself……. To live from that center is to live from that which is not real but illusory, an illusory person living in an illusory world…..As a Christian, he had a home within, a divine center from which to live, but he knew nothing of it…[bc]
There is within all our lives a continuous thread of Divine intervention: GRACE!
Now grace, obviously, works within the created order, for it is within that order we live.
Sin is a determination on our part to re-arrange the Divinely constituted order into something we fraudulently attempt to claim is more suited to our immediate gratification.
God permits our futile attempts at re-arrangement, for He respects the very order He has created, is faithful to what He has set in motion, especially our very being, even when we war against that Divine right order.
The ever flowing river of grace is His active love of us, but here too He respects our freedom, a freedom which He places within us when He creates us.
Grace then is NOT a Divine imposition.
It IS the True Lover’s invitation we accept the ultimate gift: Himself!
It is first and foremost, in the sacramental order, Baptism, which reorients us into a right ordered relationship with the Trinity.
There is a paradox in Baptism, for while this sacrament reorients us at the same time it removes us, that is, with Baptism we enter into that communion of love where, while we remain in the world, we are no longer to be of the world.
Through Baptism, in a real sense, our place becomes no-place!
This because in truth we are created and more vitally baptized to dwell, even here on earth, in the Trinity and, within especially our communion of love with the Father, to live and move and have our being.
This indwelling is itself a type of holy mystery, for we can only truly dwell within the Trinity who first dwells within us.
The holy import of this is tremendous and should move us to a constant state of awe and adoration!
We are gifted with free will and hence can, frankly, mess not per se with the effectiveness of grace, for grace is never defective, but with the hesitancy or fullness of our response to, and co-operation, with grace.
Significantly, as Leanne Payne rightly teaches, this whole movement of response to grace, of openness to the communion of love, is constitutive to my knowing, or at the very least seeking to know, become, the person He has created.
Thus the first great effective activity of sacramental grace in Baptism, by our being washed in the Blood of the Lamb, is our re-creation, our truly being born. This IS our true birth and through this being created anew we can discover the real I — I as child of the Father, disciple of the Son, temple of the Holy Spirit!
Once I know I am ‘I’, and the knowing means rejoicing, being thrilled at my very existence, an existence which is relational, communion of love — then I can authentically say YES!
My yes is to a person.
Not to some idea or rule of life or philosophical notion — though as I live elements of those necessarily become aspects of living.
My yes is to a real, living person, the Person par excellence for He is the Incarnate One.
My yes is to Jesus.
Yes to Jesus means opening wide the doors of my being to His communion of love, to His every word, and I make concrete this yes by heeding, following, living His word, the Gospel, hence my yes to Jesus is yes to communion of love, to life with, to having my being within, the Holy Trinity. [Jn. 14: 23-26]
DAY AND EVENING have come and gone!
As I begin to write again it is a tremendously fresh and beautiful Sunday afternoon.
A brilliant day as if the sunlight were dusting gold flecks upon every leaf and blade of grass.
The Eighth Day!
KRISTOS ANESTE EK NEKRON THANA CONPATESOS KAI TOIS EN TOIS MNEMASI ZOEN KHARI SAMENOS!
Sung during Holy Mass this day with all the passion, surely, of those Ointment Bearing Women as they returned from the tomb, knowing their tenderness was not needed: CHRIST IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD TRAMPLING ON DEATH BY DEATH AND ON THOSE IN THE TOMBS LAVISHING LIFE!
Truly, such as through the sacraments of Baptism and repeatedly thereafter in the sacrament of Confession, He lavishes life upon us even while we are yet in the tomb of original sin or actual sin.
The once brown fields this day are greening with new life, trees tremble with unfolding buds, birds sing more varied songs than ear can embrace for sheer wonderment at His once again making all things new!
In the soft sand of the winter- ice- retreating- gouges among the higher slants of the hills swallows build nests, as chipmunks, on my walk, scurried about the forest floor all a-chatter with indignation that a mere man dare walk into their world!
A young man, visiting here, came up to me all eager and fair shouted: “Father!
What must I do to be baptized? “
“Say, YES, Jesus! “
Of course there is more to it than that, like careful instruction-preparation.
But in that moment naught more needed to be said.
No matter how much the men and women in office seem to wreck their part of the Church’s fabric by their humanness — hence sinfulness and unpleasant personality traits — it does not happen. Christ in their office does not allow the Church to be wrecked because of the weakness of the persons who represent Him……we are dealing with the MYSTERIUM ROMANUM…dealing with the passion of Christ and the behaviour of the apostles, who were not such hot potatoes. One denied Him, one betrayed Him, all but one ran away when He died. There are only two possible conclusions: either the Catholic Church IS divinely founded, and Christ is IN all the people who rule His Church, or there IS no Catholic Church and the whole thing isn’t worth belonging to. Take your choice. [bd]
Christ is risen from the dead, trampling on death by death, and on those in the tombs, lavishing life!
In what tomb, or tombs, do I languish?
Or hunker down in like a frightened lost child who seeks shelter against or within any place that appears to have about it a definitive solidity?
Certainly in those original years when I lived with The Community, because of my split-ness, I was making of the community life itself a type of tomb.