Saturday, April 25, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
Four years ago today, a Mormon coworker ran up to me (I was Episcopalian at the time) and exclaimed "Habemus Papam!" I replied, "I don't have a Pope, and you certainly don't have a Pope." In my head, I smugly thought "Stupid Catholics, they've got this old white guy who tells them what to do, and they actually listen! Not me! I love being Episcopalian because I get to decide what's true for me." Over the next year or so, I watched Pope Benedict's papacy unfold, and I ranted over and over again about how uncompromising I thought he was. The Holy Father's stance on issues like women's ordination or homosexuality could send me into an ironic tirade about "just being nice." At the time, I thought that's what Christianity boiled down to - just being nice. And of course, at this point I had only read what the media wrote about the Pope, not anything he'd written himself.
Four years later, I'm grateful and proud to be included in the "we" of "Habemus Papam!" What changed? At some point, I realized that truth is objective - it's not about what's right for me or right for you, it's about what's true. I came to understand that Christianity is about love (not simply being nice) and when you truly love someone, you're willing to call them out on the things they think and say and do that aren't good for them - even if it means that they don't like you anymore, even when the popular culture turns against you, even (and especially) when it means suffering with someone that you love when it would be so much easier and less painful to just let them do whatever they want to do. I started reading what Pope Benedict had to say about controversial issues, and it made sense - rational, logical sense! I had spent so much time trying to justify what I wanted to be true that I'd started to confuse argument with discernment. The idea of starting at Truth and building my life - our life - around it (instead of deciding what I wanted to do and then contorting and reducing Truth to fit it where it was convenient) was revolutionary to me. I'd never thought this way before, and I'd certainly never lived this way.
I wanted to though. When I thought about what had brought me to Christianity in the first place, I realized that this is the only rational way to live. I had had a sense that there was more to life and more to me than what I could comprehend. That sense led me to seek this "More." Although I didn't realize it at the time, that seeking was mostly in inner process of opening myself to a Presence that was right in front of me (actually, at the deepest part of me) the whole time. When I encountered this Presence I knew right away that This is what I had been longing for, This is why nothing else had ever satisfied me. So why did I almost immediately start twisting my new faith into something that fit into my old life? Original sin? Selfishness? The need to control my life even if that means forcefully reducing it to something tiny enough to hold when it should be bigger than I can grasp and that's part of what makes it so beautiful? Probably a combination of those things and many others. My anger at Pope Benedict was one of the major factors that shook me out of that closed, distorted complacency. It opened me to the idea that maybe there was more to God than what I thought I understood. The Pope is uncompromising on matters of Truth because Truth cannot be compromised - any attempt to do so ends badly for everyone involved. If God is Truth and God is Love, then Love and Truth are one and the same. Reducing Truth means reducing Love - why did I ever think that was a good idea? What I came to to understand and am now trying to put into practice is that it's me that has to conform to Truth and that in doing so I become my true self - the person God created me to be, sharing His divine life of love.
Holy Father, thank you for your witness! Thank you for loving us (like any good parent) enough to not diminish the Truth that we are called to know! Alles Gute zum Jubilaum!
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Monday, April 13, 2009
I was thinking also of them during My bitter Passion, and their future zeal comforted My Heart. Immerse them in the ocean of My mercy."
Most compassionate Jesus, You are the Light of the whole world. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who do not believe in God and of those who as yet do not know You. Let the rays of Your grace enlighten them that they, too, together with us, may extol Your wonderful mercy; and do not let them escape from the abode which is Your Most Compassionate Heart.
Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who do not believe in You, and of those who as yet do not know You, but who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Draw them to the light of the Gospel. These souls do not know what great happiness it is to love You. Grant that they, too, may extol the generosity of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen.
*Our Lord's original words here were "the pagans." Since the pontificate of Pope John XXIII, the Church has seen fit to replace this term with clearer and more appropriate terminology.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
"Tell us, Mary, what did you see upon the way?"
"I saw the sepulchre of the living Christ; I saw the glory of the Risen One. I saw the angels, His witnesses, the shroud and the garments. Christ, my hope, is risen; He will go before His own into Galilee."
We know that Christ is truly risen from the dead; O Victorious King, have mercy on us.
- The Easter Sequence
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Divine Mercy novena days two and three
Friday, April 10, 2009
- Saint John Chrysostom
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
What I love about Faith is the exact this that used to frustrate me about it when I was an atheist: every answer leads to another question! It wasn't until I encountered God and came to know Him that I understood why this is so: it's because the answer to all our questions is a Who, not a what. Things can be known thoroughly and absolutely. People can't. Can you ever fully know another person? I don't think so. You can know them better and better and better, but never completely. God is a divine, infinite, eternal Person so it would be ever more impossible to know Him completely. At first this may seem sad, but it's actually beautiful because it means that we get to spend the rest of eternity being drawn deeper and deeper into communion with Love Himself! There's always more!
And now I really must go because it's 10:30 and I have to be up at 5:00 and I haven't even prayed evening prayer yet!
Monday, April 6, 2009
This year, I asked myself "why?" Why do I say that I love God above all things and then fail to live that out in my life outside of Mass? Here's what I've got so far. I don't understand the meaning of love. Almost every time I tell God I love Him, it's a warm fuzzy feeling that I'm talking about. This is not love. It's consolation - nothing more or less. Consolations remind us that we are loved - they are not love in and of themselves. If I never felt another consolation, if for the rest of my life I felt nothing while I prayed, felt nothing at Mass, felt nothing after receiving Christ in the Eucharist, does that mean that God doesn't love me? No! I should be reminded of His love every time I look at a crucifix. True love is an act of will. True love intentionally places another's good before my own, even when it's difficult, even if it means a total emptying of myself.
This is why we cannot love without God. This is how the death of Christ gives life to us. In a broken world, love and suffering can't be separated. Pouring ourselves out for others often feels like pouring water into a broken jar - pointless and never ending. We need God, who is Love Himself, inside of our souls. We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19) We need to remain in the source of love and we need Him to remain in us. In the person of Jesus Christ, true Love and eternal Life entered this world as one of us, fully embraced suffering and death, and rose to show Himself victorious. United to Him in baptism, confirmed by Him in our identity as children of God and members of His Body, continuously nourished by Him in the Eucharist, healed by Him in reconciliation, we are victorious too!
The Jewish people wanted a Messiah and King to come in and set everything right, and they had a certain idea of what that would look like. We also have many ideas about what God should be doing to set things right in the world - no more war, poverty, abortion, pollution, whatever. What we all fail to see is that none of these things will be fixed until we are fixed, and that is what Christ's life, death and resurrection is accomplishing - to the degree that each of us allows in our own hearts and lives. I think, for the rest of Holy Week, when I feel a consolation, I'll offer it back to God and ask for the grace to love as He loves.
P.S. Back in January, Suzanne of Come to See wrote this post. It moved me deeply and I've been wanting to link to it ever since. Now is the time - it's a beautiful reflection for Holy Week.