TODAY THE CHURCH CELEBRATES the Baptism of Our Lord, in the Jordan through the intermediary of St. John the Baptist.
This is called in the East, more specifically, what both East and West celebrates, THEOPHANY: the revelation of God as Holy Trinity.
God: Father, Son, Holy Spirit!
…the God of life and love, a Person in relationship with another Person, the Son, and yet another Person, the Holy Spirit. The Baptism of Christ was a blessed occasion for God to manifest Himself as He really is in the inner sphere of His life. He is a one and unique Essence, a one and unique Substance, a one and unique God in three divine Persons.
…Theophany tells of the mystery of God as He is in His inner sphere of life, a Transcendent Trinity…..
The feast of Theophany therefore, celebrates the greatest of all the mysteries of our Christian religion, the mystery of our God, the God of infinite life and love, the one and unique God in three divine Persons.
…it is the feast of the revelation of the Trinity of God Father-Son-Spirit, the feast of the re-creation of the world, and of the divinization of our humanity……..in one word Feast of Light….the Lord came to be the Light of the world and He is the One ‘who enlightens and illumines every human being who is born in this world’… [Jn.1:9]. He is the Light of the whole creation because He is Image and Revealer of the Father and Sender of the Holy Spirit.
……Holy Trinity is the basic truth of our Christian religion.
….our hearts…….enter into the feast…
….we see with our eyes and hear with our ears the ineffable reality of God. While our Lord and God Jesus Christ is in the river Jordan we hear a voice from heaven saying ‘ You are My Son….’ It is, therefore, a Father talking and Christ is the Son. Moreover, we see a dove which is the Holy Spirit alighting on the head of Christ. God is, therefore, one and unique God in three divine Persons, Father-Son-Spirit. In the celebration of Theophany, the revelation of God-Trinity, we are taken up beyond the historical dimensions of a mere event of baptism and transported into the heights of mystical communion with the Triune God. [cl]
That is exactly what my entire being was hungering for, to enter into the Light!: when I decided to inculcate my romantic notion of being a desert dweller in the basement cave.
The fundamental error, I was albeit rather naively making, is that we CANNOT, per se, step into the Light.
The Light Himself must enter us[Rv.3:20].
What we can do, by grace, what we must do, by grace, is authentically open wide the doors of our being as response to His offer of Himself, our Light, then He shall enter and make it so that we are thus in the Light, in Him.
LOOKING BACK along the corridors of my memory to that first night, and the subsequent few months I lived in the cave-apartment, I now understand what happened that night, and why what my heart sought ,I was nonetheless unable to receive in its fullness.
Yet God being all-loving and all-tender as He is, nothing is impossible to Him, and time, as all things, is no impediment to His love.
In retrospect, then, actual conversion, and deepening of the call to change of heart, did occur.
While in the immediate it may not have been apparent to me, over the following years that initial hunger to be severed, by grace, from my addictions, wounds, sins, would come to pass.
He is all merciful and, indeed, where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more![Rm.5:20]
Sitting there, so suddenly experiencing a crushing aloneness, I busied myself with lighting a vigil light to dispel the increasing darkness of the falling night; took a piece of paper and wrote out a rule of life and schedule for my days, setting out times for prayer, cleaning, Mass, spiritual reading, listening to people who might come to chat — everything that my romantic notion of an urban cave-dweller’s life should entail.
Naturally enough the central question: what IS the will of the Father for me, time to be still and listen to HIM — was not even posed.
Satisfied I had things in order, more precisely self-assured I had things under control; I blew out the vigil light, since I only had a few and little cash to buy more with, and went to bed.
As I lay there on the small bed, under my single blanket, in the deep dark, a chasm, an immense black-hole of emptiness, opened up within me.
An ocean of grief seemed to be cascade into my being.
I was stunned.
I was terrified.
But I did not pray, did not cry out to God!
My autonomous will, my survival skills, my ego, reacted.
A motor kicked in at that juncture.
A loud, clacking, invading motor and my panic increased, subsiding only slightly when my brain figured out it was the old refrigerator.
The motor ran, ran, ran and I tensed the more as that loud sound seemed to permeate the entire little apartment, seeping through my skin and bones into my inner being.
I found sleep impossible, flaying about on the bed, filled with self-pity, emptiness, loneliness, and a reluctance to pray, as if that would be tantamount to admitting this whole adventure was a terrible error of my own wounded ego.
The thought came to unplug the fridge. A thought which came only after more than a hour of the senseless struggle.
My hesitation was a combination of ego refusing to admit my terror and the realization that my entire food supply was in the refrigerator and could spoil.
Finally a modicum of common sense and a half muttered prayer for mercy overcame all other considerations and I unplugged the fridge.
The sudden ensuing silence took some time to adjust to.
Dark, airless, empty, sad, space seemed limitless as I lay down again, asking only that God protect me in my fear and let me sleep.
I awoke the next day having slept for over twelve hours.
It was almost noon and I was sure that the food would have spoiled, the frozen stuff melted.
I opened the refrigerator and was amazed, humbled actually at my lack of faith, to find everything, even the milk, as cold as if that machine had run all night.
I plugged it back in and the racket of the motor was actually consoling this time.
There was, as I cleaned up and began the day, a deep sense in my heart that no matter what, Our Lady was watching over me.
I ate a little lunch of cheese and bread, spent some time in prayer and reading, then late in the afternoon headed off to the parish church for Holy Mass, feeling secure in myself that this move, this attempt at desert life in the heart of the city was, indeed, God’s will for me.
A rationalization to be sure, but one, in mysterious ways, in His Fatherly tenderness, He frequently blessed throughout the following months.
Over time the parish priest began to send the poor, the troubled, to visit me.
One example of Divine Tenderness is that no matter how little food I had, if the hungry came for a meal, there was always enough food.
A routine developed then which lasted until the last few weeks I was there: fasting, prayer, writing, going to Mass, helping the poor and lonely, and, which truly is the central grace and importance of those months, ever increased contact with my spiritual father.
He began teaching me about the healing of memories and how healing was occurring through the process of allowing those memories, and some significant dream experiences, to be touched by Christ.
It was the beginning of the healing and true conversion process which — though had I suspected this at the time it would have discouraged me, now it is one of the joys of my life — continues to this day and must continue until my death, for it is the process of transfiguration, sobornost with the Blessed Trinity — the lessening of I and the increase of Christ.
For a time, then, all was well.
What happened to precipitate this desert-urban-cave-dwelling to an end was my transferring a significant portion of the energies used for my addictions into the disease of introspection.