November 30, 2019

Fire from Above and the Son of Man

"What we utter is God's wisdom: a mysterious, a hidden wisdom... Yet God has revealed this wisdom to us through the Spirit" 1 Cor. 2:7 and 10.

In Daniel 7:2-14, though overwhelming forces blow and surge through the world, the radiant King of the Universe is enthroned above the fray, undeterred by the winds and waves of the age. This is the Holy Trinity - the surging of an uncreated love from which everything good and noble proceeds. People of faith are not limited by a vision that only sees the passing intrigues of injustice. Their eyes are lifted up to the One who is their help.  He is the great artist whose primal art cannot be defaced even when threatened by gross injustice. The Almighty God has created a world so beautiful that it can make the heart ache with a fullness of meaning - for those who glimpse this glory, joy and sorrow crescendo into a grateful stillness. That benevolent silence is enclosed in the mystery of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Only within this primordial cloister, only in this secret garden accessed by faith, only in this hidden mountain that obedience to God can find, in this place, the truth about the world is unveiled.

The Uncreated Love eternally engendered by the Father and the Son is enthroned on wheels, streams and flames of Fire. Unheeded by the world, myriads upon myriads attend and minister to this great Furnace of Love. Who can resist this burning heat and what can hide from such shining radiance?  Yet, none of the rulers of this age knew the mystery; if they knew it, the would never have crucified the Lord of glory (1 Cor. 2:8).

Notwithstanding the tumult of the times, Love's eternal purpose holds. In the face of arrogant powers, Love's final judgment is rendered. Unquenchable Love decides for the humble and lowly. Jealous Love casts down every dehumanizing monstrosity and abusive abomination. Tender Love establishes order and peace so that all that is good, noble and true in our life might thrive in pure intensity.

Above all violence and oppression, the Living God recognizes the sovereignty of the Son of Man. The Savior reveals the liberty of love entirely freed from self, completely surrendered in love. The powerful of this world grasp for absolute authority over the lives of others and become enslaved to the monsters of their own making. Though He was in the form of God, Son though He was, Jesus did not grasp at Divine Power but rather emptied Himself, humbly taking the form of a slave to set us free.

If wisdom in this world below avoids humiliation and defends from threats, wisdom from above acts in the opposite way. The Suffering Servant entered into every humiliation man has every suffered out of love, so that no matter the humiliation that comes our way, we might know the immensity of the Father's goodness. Though humiliated by us unto death, he yearned to become like us in all things but sin, so that we might not suffer alone, not even death itself. This is a wisdom from above. It can suffer death because it comes from a love that is stronger than death and that no power can over come.

With divine dignity and integrity, the Good Shepherd sacrificed everything to restore our humanity to the glory for which it was made, and no matter how lost we become, He never tires in his search to take us home. At the sound of His voice, the darkness of fear and shame draw back. Touched by truth, we suddenly realize that we are not far from the pathway home. Carried on His shoulders, no matter the dark valley, we find our rest.

He is the Man of Sorrows who bore our afflictions with divine love and by whose stripes in his human flesh we are healed. No matter how diseased or wounded our hearts, the Son of Mary has power to heal so that we might make a new beginning.  When He comes on the clouds of heaven, the Word of the Father is presented in the power of the Holy Spirit and presents us so that we might know the immensity of the Father's mercy as He Himself has known it before the foundation of the world. All He desires is that we might become who He created us to be - creatures of an Uncommon Love, capable of making that Love known wherever and whenever that Love is needed. He yearns to raise us up so that through our lives His dominion might be revealed to those whom He has entrusted to us, to both friend and foe, to all those who most need a word of hope.

November 24, 2019

The Personal Presence of Christ the King

The personal presence of Jesus Christ the King reigns over the world even in its present turmoil. No one and nothing can thwart His plan.  The glory that He desires us to know in Him is ours, if we will believe in Him.

This King has taken His stand with all that is good, noble and true. Those who stand against Him oppose the glory and greatness of their own humanity. They have allied themselves with self-contradiction and already have chosen for themselves their own punishment. Yet, whoever would stand for virtue, nobility and kindness will find in the King of Glory the dearest friend. His reign is a mystery that contains and is contained by anyone who believes He is Lord and Savior.  Those who choose to enter into His reign find peace, a peace the world cannot give.

Indeed, the Lord Jesus, the Word of the Father, establishes peace in all things because He contains all things in Himself. He is before the whole cosmos in power and presence: there is no moment of time, no distance or space, nothing visible or invisible, no force of good or evil, no intelligence or ordering principle material or immaterial that comes before Him. Every creature comes from Him. They are, in wondrous ways, patterned after Him. In their very multiplicity, they are ordered to Him and express His immensity. His mysterious benevolence sustains the existence of everything that is - even the human person and the wonderful gift of freedom with which each member of humanity is endowed. Because He is the source who makes exists and directs all things, even the those things entrusted to the liberty of men and women, the peace that He brings allows all things to thrive, and this is particular true of mankind.

When it comes to the human person, Jesus Christ, our Just Judge, has also chosen to make Himself present to be known and loved in a personal way. The Word of God does this by not only containing our existence and making the use of our own freewill possible but also by freely allowing Himself to be contained by our hearts. He suffers with us all the threats to our integrity so that we do not suffer alone, and He preserves the most precious truth about who we are and where we belong, even when we believe that we have thrown it all away. Our own free willed acts of devotion are endowed with eternal meaning in His eyes - because He is the One who makes them possible for our sake. This makes Him an intimate player and principle actor in the drama of good and evil that unfolds in our hearts. When it comes to the battle for our own integrity, He has taken our side.

With great hope in the goodness by which we were made, the One who is just and true speaks to us so that we might realize the victory of good over evil in our own conscience. Each time this Eternal Word communicates in the passing silence of our hearts, He gives Himself with the desire to hold nothing back, including the secret judgments of His own heart. Those who quickly confess their sins and seek His pardon know this to be true. He wants to share with us the deep things of God, truth hidden in the abyss of divine wisdom, that the judgment of our own hearts might stand unveiled and become vulnerable to His love.

He has won the right to do this by giving Himself on the Cross, and we grant Him permission to do this when we approach that Cross with gratitude, ready to take up our own. Every time we renounce our selfishness, He cultivates His own selflessness in us. Here, we anticipate that final judgment that will be rendered about our lives at the end of time. Before His judgment seat, if we are open, He pours out his fullness into our lives in exchange for our own poverty -- and He longs for us to entrust Him with our very misery so that He might make known to us His invincible mercy.

He does this, first of all, because He knows and loves each of us in a very particular and unrepeatable way. We are actually dear to Him - worthy of every inconvenience and sacrifice, He cannot rest until He finds us and leads us to our true homeland. Indeed, He has cast in His lot with us in the great cosmic conflict with evil. Entering into our plight, He has accomplished, once and for all, the definitive victory against every principality and power that would threaten human dignity or seek to diminish its most high calling.

He did this by entering into our humanity, to embrace and  sanctify the whole of human experience, from womb to tomb. Whatever is ignoble and self-contradictory, he destroyed by His death on the Cross. Such evils only hold sway to the extent that we will not surrender them to Him. Whatever is true and good in our humanity, He saved and raised on high. In His resurrection, He trail blazed a new frontier for humanity, a horizon that stretches even further than death, to a fullness of life completely beyond our powers to grasp or estimate.  This is the way that is open to us if we will accept His reign over our lives.

In the Kingdom of Christ, He rules through and with Mystical Body. Whether by the blood of the martyrs, the contemplation of the ascetics, or generous work of His servants, the loving obedience of His mystical Body constantly expresses His reign in the most concrete and existential ways. Not in mere ideas or intentions, not in mere feelings and fantasies, but in those hard won actions of faith and love, the good and beautiful work of the Lord is manifest. The reign of God is not about unaided human industry, but rather surrendered obedience to the love of the Father. This is the rule of the Lamb who was slain. In all its sublimity, it is found not first of all in great feats, but in those hidden and patient gestures of every day life: a cup of cold water, a smile, a soft answer, an understanding glance.

What would seem pure weakness to the world and an inconvenience is nothing short of a mystical new birth in the reign of Christ. He is ready to act in every contrite acceptance of responsibility, every sincere effort to be reconciled, any attempt to relieve the suffering of my neighbor. No matter how feeble, sacrificing one's own pride and comfort matures into amendment of life, restitution of wrongs thought to be impossible to heal, penance so loving that Christ is able to take delight in its gratitude and sincerity.

This opens into a whole wilderness of new actions of life and love waiting to be explored by the human heart -always together with and for Him. Each here and now, nitty gritty sacrifices made for the love of God and for those who are entrusted to us gives this reign the space to draw us into Him even more -- building up His whole Body with such splendors as no one in this world has ever seen before.

If through His mystical Body, His reign contains and is contained by each one of us through our faith in Him, a certain new unity is established among all of us - in and through Him. Righteous and True, He is already closer to us than we are to ourselves - even if we are indifferent to or doubtful of His presence. In this Kingdom, the closer we draw to Him, the closer we are to one another. He implicates us in one another's plight until we are able to bear each other's sufferings and uphold each other's dignity. If not even death can separate us from the love of Christ and we are all bound together in this love, then this unity is not something that the futility of this world can diminish. Instead, all the limitations of our present life are, by faith in Him and the unity of his Mystical Body, already being transformed into new moments of eternal life. 

November 19, 2019

Light, Glory and Judgment

These days, as we approach the mystery of Advent, the Church invites us to think of  the End of Time. The world looks upon this mystery with avoidant fear. The powerful see inevitable destruction. The rich certain misfortune. The comfortable, catastrophic hardship. The secure insurmountable insecurity. Christians look upon this same reality with hope.

In this final mystery, Divine Justice is at last unveiled. Not only will what's wrong with me be set straight, but what's wrong with the whole world will be too. Mysteries not yet known come to light. Things hidden shown forth. Those who fear the Lord will know His sheer goodness. The children of God will be made like Him, for they shall see Him as He is.

The beatitude that haunts the heart of every man will show forth in sudden splendor. The dumb will proclaim what renders the eloquent speechless. The tears of the oppressed will wiped away. Liberty given captives. The blind sight. The deaf hearing. The lame dancing. The hungry filled with plenty. The poor flooded in abundance. Every form of injustice overthrown. The proud  humbled while the humble raised up. All will fully realize the definitive victory of good over evil won for us on the Cross of Christ. There will be peace.

Christians do not see this Day of Judgment as a remote future event, a "some day" that can be calculated. By faith we know that this inevitable moment comes crashing into human history even now, impregnating time with seeds of eternity. Each instant of this present life both points to and anticipates the consummation that awaits us.  Every heartbeat and every breath relentlessly converges up to vanishing point that faith sees dimly as in a mirror.  This is the point of ultimate encounter in which humanity stands unveiled before the Righteous One in all His glory.

The Just Judge who comes for humanity is the Lamb that was slain. He intends salvation but this gift can be rejected by neglect no less than malice. He yearns for all that makes known the tenderness and wonder of humanity should be raised up on high while all that threatens its dignity and diminishes its glory should be destroyed. Those who seek out this Crucified God and who humbly ask for His mercy find it in astonishing superabundance. Savior of those who cry out to Him in faith, He confirms their every good work and brings it to completion.  In Him, nothing that is good, noble or true is ever lost. Every self-contradiction and threat to one's own integrity is born away and consumed by His inexhaustible love.

In the Sacrament of Penance, this final end of humanity is made present in the most saving way. His mercy fills the voids our failures in justice have caused our neighbors. Indeed, He gladly pays this price for us if we will only begin our journey home. Here, our penance is nothing more than a token thank you for a that healing goodness that flows forth from His Judgment Seat. For our homecoming and the final judgment are meant to coincide: at last, wrapped in new robes, rings on our fingers, in the embrace of our Father, and in our brother's realization that we must celebrate, we who were once dead are being now, and will be forever, brought back to life.

November 14, 2019


Where night is merely a memory
and stars a faded story
the moon eclipsed by fire light
dark shadows too have died
another world, a new earth
radically begotten from an uncreated spark
fresh secret, single key opening every door
the bright alpha and omega forever
living within us.

            Scott Eagan
                November 8, 2019

November 12, 2019

A Meditation on Renewing Formation

The Lamb’s love lavishing
Unrecognized Gifts of Priestly Calling
And myriads more too beautiful to name —
Amid  those sinking vestiges of Christendom
Amid that drifting emptiness of aimless progress
Amid jetsam of broken families, broken wombs and broken hearts,
So many broken shards of the Bride’s radiance
To be found, to be gathered, to be made whole:
New living unities of Office, Teaching and Holiness
Forged in the Divine Furnace
for the salvation of the world

A disciple does not take or make,
but receives identity from his Master:
Integrity is not given but by battle,
Intensity untapped but by the loss of all things,
Truth not suffered but by humiliation,
Beatitude not possessed but in that poverty,
unmasked with careful kindness
In the difficult questions and puzzles of the heart
Proposed by the Son of the Father.

Availing oneself of that silent fullness
that contains and is contained in the Word’s Real Presence
Is never safe, never comfortable, never convenient:
Fire can burn
flaming forth with mysteries
of Love, Death and the Bearing Away of Sin.

All this joining on those relentless waves
of faith’s obedience, humility, and mercy
        Islands of humanity prostrate before
That threshold of the Cross,
That pouring forth of blood and water,
That ocean of deep currents and infinite horizons
in the heart of the Father.

November 3, 2019

Silence, Judgment and Freedom

Contemplative prayer flows from and leads to worship of the Living God, and somewhere in this great moment, we learn to live. Christian prayer, when offered in this context, is never an escape from the voice of our conscience but a coming to terms, a necessary change of heart, a surrender to the power of God. This unfolds in Revelations 8:1 when silence is observed in heaven:

"When the Lamb broke open the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about a half an hour" (NAB).

This celestial silence is alway before us, and it would be reductionistic to presume that it is only a mystery of the future. We are meant to anticipate its mystery now. Contemplative prayer lives in the thanksgiving and adoration of the Eucharist. After receiving Holy Communion, we should keep a brief a period of silence that is open to this heavenly silence. We should also allow the silence of Eucharistic Adoration to take us into this same great stillness. If someone discovers this silence after pondering the Bible, it is because the Word of God is the pathway that leads into it. The holiness of the saints is filled with this same silence for the silence of heaven searches out and finds the Lamb who was slain only to humble itself before what He reveals.

The silence of St. John is occasioned by the opening of the seventh seal. The Seventh Seal, as did the seventh day of creation, represents the final seal of God's plan. Before the coming of Christ, we could not know the ultimate destiny of the heavens and the earth. The Lamb who offered Himself for us reveals the definitive judgment of God. His wounds concern the world and sin, humanity and its integrity, man and woman before God, the Blood from above that falls on all that is below, and the failure of what is below to respond to what has come from above.

The silence of heaven is not empty or meaningless. It is receptive and responsive, and this receptivity to the Word overthrows all the powers of hostility to God in the world below, turning them upside down, purifying the world of them for the sake of new life. Trumpet blast after trumpet blast fills the silence in St. John's Apocalypse. The seventh seal is followed by seven angels blowing seven trumpets: an image of the Eternal Sabbath, a culmination of God's plan, a judgment, a blessing, and the definitive decision in which lives the completion of His saving work. In the end, as it is now, it will be on earth as it is in heaven. This should make us tremble: for what ought to be already is whether we are aware of it or not. We live as if this were not so unto our own peril.

The great silence and the sound of trumpet are not a remote realities to be avoided by cleverness or luck. They are to be sought, longed for, hoped for. Whether by the Rosary or Lectio Divina, spiritual exercises or a sudden grace that seizes our hearts, contemplative prayer takes us into this moment, and the liturgy of the Church teaches us to remain there.

The worship of the Church takes us out of the work-a-day world, out of the exigencies of the moment, out of the limits of time and into the solemn moment where heaven adores the Lamb. We may not be aware of it but that stillness that haunts every moment of our lives and serves as the forgotten backdrop of our existence. There is great jubilation and thanksgiving before the Lamb because His risen humanity surrounded by the saints is a sign that our sinfulness does not get the last word about where we stand with the Father.

Liturgy, our service for the Church and the world, makes that joy known on earth. This great work of prayer enters into the sanctuary not made by hands because it lives in the Body of Christ. The Risen Lord stands before the Father on our behalf because He has loved us to the end and this is why only He can unseal the final judgment on our existence. To enter into the throng of heaven is a super moment of supreme love, a completely humbling instance of eternity in which the truth of our hearts is laid bare as the heart of Love Himself definitively bares Himself to us. The proper response to this definitive moment of God's work is reverence and awe in adoration, bowed and prostrate.

Let the lips quiver and the tears flow, for until now we have not yet lived. We have avoided life in a sea of contradictions, afraid of the truth, fearful of who God is and who we are in His presence. His judgment is ever before us, and we, until this moment indifferent, have not let it into our hearts as we know we should. So, let it in! Open wide the doors to Christ ... there is nothing to lose and everything to gain. Fear is useless ... only trust and confidence in Him can save us. Now is the time to repent and to reconcile, for the silence in which we find ourselves, that very silence into which lead every humble prayer and hopeful cry of petition, is a silence that resounds with truth telling, soul saving and peace establishing trumpet blasts from heaven. And before this fullness of love and life, nothing is ever the same again.

Yet to have this so close but to continue on as if nothing were to change, as if everything would continue on as it always has, this is to cling to a perilous illusion, a dehumanizing myth. It will not stand. In the vigilant humble silence that angelic trumpet blasts fill, all illusion is unmasked and the sense of security into which we lulled ourselves is dispelled.

Here, we find ourselves deciding on our role in the great drama of life, the true story that the heavens tell, the primal story from which all stories worth telling are taken: God's saving plan. Cain or Abel? Abraham or Lot? Moses or Pharaoh? Myth, magic thinking and resistance to the voice of God mark the storyline of Pharaoh. Faith, obedience and holiness open the path of Moses and the Prophets. Myths of men appeal to the imagination and stir hubris, but cannot bear the weight of our existence. Faith in God challenges the heart and offers the only firm ground on which freedom is found.

We hear His voice for the Word became flesh and dwells among us. Our created silence rings with His great uncreated canticle and this changes everything, even the doubts and questions we face. His fire blazes and the bush of creation is not consumed: will we take off our shoes and listen to His voice? In that silence, not to be changed, to be indifferent to the call of truth, this is already to be plagued with scorching hail, burning sea, torched rivers, and darkened skies. Yet relief is swift if we contritely confess our sins and offer acts of penance in thanksgiving for the mercy of God.

The image of Revelations 8 unveil the crisis and hope of our lives: prayers and petitions rise up to heaven while a hot censer of coals is hurled to earth. Thundering angelic trumpet blasts over earth fill the silence of heaven. Catastrophe and salvation together in invincible movement, unavoidable certainty, that final reckoning, that eternal setting things straight. Injustice shall not continue as it has: we may be saved from it or perish with it. Grace makes this great self-defining act possible, even if our choice is not to choose, and we live or die with the consequences of our free decision because our liberty before God is taken serious by all of heaven. How I hope that you and I will always choose God, and find each other in Him!

Whatever we decide, the heaven sent plagues that liberated the People of God from Egypt will liberate the Church from the arrogant. Christ is the New Adam, the New Moses: pillars of fire on land and sea will open a way forward now as they did for Moses - no demonic undercurrent, no earthly power, not even heaven can stop Him. Enslavement, oppression and manipulation will be confronted by the justice of the Most High until the Children of God, safe from every abuse and self-contradiction, are free at last to worship Him and to live life to the full.