THERE is, as I reflect on yesterday’s question from my confessor, a type of urgency to complete this book.
I’m not sure if the urgency is in response to the goad of grace or the restlessness of my ego — but I turn once more to the original notes and am amazed at how His Mercy is always greater than our capacity for sin.I AM DISTRACTED, anxious, grieving this morning.
The spring sun has shaken all the ice-glass from the trees, woven there by days of freezing rain.
The fields, washed of snow by warmer rain, reveal their yellow-brown last year’s fashion, clamouring for the new season’s outfit.
On this day a year ago I had arrived in the west at a new assignment with The Community.
Barely unpacked, I was summoned by a phone call.
Years before, and for years, there had been three buddies.
Now the middle one was telling me, the oldest one, of the youngest’ death.
Though by now priest, and supposedly man of faith, the act of death stung my being.
Death had stolen friend from among the earthly living and flung that friend beyond the tangible sense those of us, left behind, could easily touch.
What had started out as the sophomoric promiscuity of the young had, not without heated debate, struggle, matured into a pure and authentic male on male friendship.
The agent of death has been aids.
When the youngest had first been diagnosed he had called me, not as friend but now as priest-father, with one simple question:
“Do you think God has allowed this to happen to me so I might come home?”
Home being sacramental life with Christ.
I said: “Yes.”
This day of the phone call announcing the completion of his journey home seemed to have arrived so suddenly.
Not unexpectedly, perhaps. Suddenly, nonetheless.
Confusion that, during that Day of the Resurrection of Christ, death should still sting so mightily.
Last year, like now, Easter.
This year, like then, death stings still.
I cry out for the grace of help for in my belief I need help with my unbelief.
From the Stichera of Easter from the Divine Liturgy, this, from St. John Chrysostom:
O DEATH WHERE IS YOUR STING? O Hades where is your victory? CHRIST IS RISEN AND YOU ARE ABOLISHED, CHRIST IS RISEN and demons are cast down, CHRIST IS RISEN and the angels rejoice, CHRIST IS RISEN and life is freed, CHRIST IS RISEN and the tomb is emptied of the dead: for CHRIST being RISEN from the dead, has become the Leader and Reviver of those who had fallen asleep. To Him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen.