December 26, 2017

Christ Child Awakening

Just as when He awoke in swaddling clothes in a manger, Christ can awaken in our hearts in prayer. In that mysterious moment His eyes communicate the same invincible joy that they did when they gazed into the eyes of His virgin mother. We know in that single instant what she knew -- that He has given Himself to us and for us, and that we are the object of His delight.  If we allow ourselves to be captivated by His gaze of love, we will soon find that we cannot but give ourselves to Him in return.

Just as He opened His eyes and saw the world for the first time, when we allow Him to open His eyes in our prayer, it is as if we have been seen for the first time. When we rest with Him in silent prayer, the Word who made the world opens His eyes anew and sees us and the whole world again through our own human eyes.  It is so silent and subtle -- so easy to miss. The delight that He first took at the first moment of creation is suddenly renewed. It is a profound but secret moment of of recognition and affirmation that both Christ and the soul share together.

When Christ awakens as we pray, His gaze imparts a delicate blessing. The moment of recognition and the delight that He takes in seeing us causes a mysterious movement in the deepest part of our own being.  All of creation is taken up in its wake.  We are recognized and in that loving recognition, something is etched in the very substance of our being, and as he snuggles back to sleep, all of creation awakens to new life.

December 13, 2017

Advent and John the Baptist

In the Season of Advent, we should allow ourselves to experience the mystery of John the Baptist. His voice rings in our conscience and when we hear it, God is able to make space in our hearts for the joy of Christmas. The Baptist's voice sets a limit on the power and authority of the world in our lives. His voice reminds us of the truth about marriage and family, about faithfulness and sin, about God and our neighbor.

If we are comfortable, the Baptist makes us uneasy.  If we are arrogant, His voice humbles us. If we are confused, he is there to clarify. If we are discouraged, he helps us find the heart we need. This inner voice prepares for the Coming of Word of the Father. It is a voice that helps us recognize the truth that we need. If we do not hear this voice, it is easy to forget what it means to be, not only a Christian. but even decent human being. Such is the mission of the Baptist in the life of the Church and the plan of God.

We need to listen to the voice of John the Baptist anew. In our great wealth and power, we have become spiritually dull. In our self-conceit and self-interest, we live imprisoned in our egos - and remain powerless to help others find freedom.  In our fear of discomfort and inconvenience, we have robbed ourselves of the greatness of God's love. The witness of the Baptist cuts through fear, self, wealth and power - and makes us vulnerable to the truth once again.

To listen to the voice of the Baptist requires us to withdraw into our hearts and be still.  It requires the confession of sin and the readiness to commit ourselves to reparation for what we have done and not done for others. It requires us to listen to the suffering of those often alienated and sometimes tormented souls that God has entrusted to us. The voice of the Baptist can be in the distressing outburst of an autistic child, or in the quiet sobs of a grieving widow. His voice whispers among the brokenhearted who have lost it all and it calls out among the cynical who risk being lost forever. This call to love requires patient vigilance.  To make space for this voice in our lives, we must welcome the inconvenience and discomfort it causes - this suffering is salvific.

None of this is comfortable, but it makes all the difference in life. If we let what this prophet says change our judgments about ourselves, the world, and God, a pathway to reconciliation, integrity and fulfillment is opened before us. Listening to the Baptist and heeding his call to repentance fills in valleys of indifference and levels mountains of sin. Our whole being and existence is made ready for the coming of Word of the Father into the reality of our lives - a suffering joy that not only makes life meaningful, but lifts up everyone around us.

December 7, 2017

Advent of that Mysterious Joy

Broods the cosmos in painful rending
Beyond infinity’s gentle bending
Over misery’s edge, in galaxy far,
Cries the lost, under lonely star,
While glory, in virgin womb, abides

Superintelligences cannot fathom
The hidden secret’s tender anthem
For they from above all time and space charge hastening
To the garden, to guard, to wield swords in chastening
Where envy’s deceit resides

Until heaven, song and peace bestowing
On lowly shepherds with their flocks and cattle lowing,
Beheld revolving all hearts, and stars, and years, and land
Around what humble Godhead offers man,
And that mysterious joy besides.