29 THE CITY AGAIN
IT HAS BEEN an unusual day!
In spite of my doing my best to be hidden, I got called by a friend to attend a home in the neighbourhood to anoint an elderly man.
Walking back from the home, carrying the man, his wife, their family of three generations in my heart, I was struck by the great mystery of having grown up in the city through whose harbour and streets most of the immigrants to this country passed in the days of steamships.
Because of the first major civil war in their country after the Second World War I came to know many of their countrymen, children like myself.
Then some decades later one of their number, as a Bishop, taught me much on how to be a true priest-father.
Thus, this day, my heart knew the right words to comfort the old man!
Truly, as the Scripture says: HIS ways are not our ways!
THE RETURN to the city was again, but on a deeper, angrier, perverse, determined level, the fleeing from the Father of the prodigal. Therefore it was a more complete wasting of my baptismal heritage.
Indeed, it was a more profound waste of my very personhood.
Among the multiple manifestations of evil, one can discern three symptomatic aspects — parasitism, imposture and parody. The evil one lives as a parasite on the being created by God……..An imposter, he covets the divine attributes, and substitutes equality for resemblance…….a jealous counterfeiter he imitates the creator and constructs his own kingdom without God……………Evil, as a parasite, sticks to being, vampirizes and devours it. [bl]
It must be faced, told, confessed, that by returning to the city I was deliberately offering myself as a host being for that diabolical parasite.
This is the choice of a baptized person to be anti-Eucharist.
It is to choose a life of mortal sin.
Christ offers Himself to us, the True Vine, of which we become the branches, grafted onto Him in baptism.
Christ offers Himself to us, Head of His Body the Church, of which we become members at our baptism.
Christ offers Himself to us, Body, Blood, Soul, Divinity, in the Holy Eucharist, becoming our Real Food, our Real Drink, without which we actually die from real starvation, real dehydration — for if the soul is starved, if the soul endures a thirst never satisfied — life becomes unbearable, for we have chosen to exist, but not to live.
Fullness of living means a life in Him, with Him, through Him, for Him, until, in truth, we no longer live, Christ lives in us.
The first step in re-entering this communion of love with Him — since love and truth are inseparable — is to stand before Him, bow low, prostrate ourselves face to the ground — like the woman in the Gospel who placed herself at His feet and washed them with her tears — and say, simply, truthfully, seeking no excuse, none other to blame: LORD JESUS CHRIST, SON OF THE LIVING GOD, HAVE MERCY ON ME, THE SINNER.
But, like most moderns, steeped as I was in the relativistic rationalism of the modern era, what I should have seen with clear eyes — for the truth of this was experienced daily in my exhausted interior being, ragged emotions, desperate search for gratification, despair of purpose and meaning in life, constant physical ailments, the stress of never enough money, things, pleasures, distractions, the relentless effort to develop ever more detailed philosophical, scientific, political, psychological, historical, cultural argumentation to justify my increasing enraged and depraved existence — I refused to contemplate as assuredly as the Romans to whom St. Paul wrote about the consequences of denial of truth and darkening of mind. [cf. Rm. 1: 18-32]
This is no judgement of the heart of anyone else but myself, though I would declare quite frankly that this Pauline observation is an astute assessment of contemporary culture, society, philosophy and the basic mind-set of a tragically significant portion of the population, irrespective of their chronological age or even their ethnic/religious background.
I am, of course, alone in my responsibility for my own sins.
I generate my own MISERIA when it comes to choosing sin.
True, there may be suffering, misery in my life, caused by the sins of others — here Jesus tells me what I am to do is to forgive.
We experience mercy and are called to be merciful.
Mostly, if not virtually exclusively, the miseria of my years in the city was of my own making.
So, I remember: I remember the journey back to the city, daylight ebbing ever faster as the spires of the great financial towers, the squared jawed outlines of apartment blocks, spiked the horizon, their windows filled with cat’s eyes yellow light, as if the city were a jungle in whose branches lurked a thousand panthers.
Because of the way I would choose to live, and the work I did for almost all the years I was in the city, all but a very few of the memories of those years take place shrouded in the pall of night.