August 30, 2020

The Best Wine for Last

Feeling abandoned by the Church, many wonder over the plight of humanity and the promise of the Gospel. Some priests and bishops remember the tradition passed on to them and they dare, even in the face of incoherent policies, to build an island of humanity and to raise the standard of love. The miracle of Cana flows from these celebrations of eternal thanksgiving, not despite, but because of such suffering. The Church is born of loneliness - man's loneliness is an echo of God's loneliness for man.

There have been moments of intervention when Merciful Love is experienced as a kind of divine wrath. If this is one of those moments, then it is time to take stock and allow Christ to question us, to ask "Where are you going." To respond to His initiative is already to begin to come to our senses.  Indeed, history also shows that whenever a people turns back to the Lord, He unleashes blessings that could not have been anticipated, for He gains nothing when we are lost, but is filled with boundless joy when He glimpses us though we are still a long way off. 

Eternal love binds itself to a child's plight. Made to reveal the hidden glory of the Uncreated Light, the child may choose a darkness that cannot bear its brightness. For lack of truth, integrity is compromised and self-contradiction inevitable. For such as these, Love flames forth seemingly to blind and burn, but ever triumphant over evil, this warning reveals the way out of tragic ruin.

In shipwrecked loneliness, adrift in myths and falsehoods, we sink below waves of chaos and exigencies of the moment. Yet, there is One who the dark forces of life cannot pull under. The deep primordial threats to existence haveno claim on Him for He has already descended to vanquish their strongholds. Unvanquished, He comes by word and sacrament to pull us up with Him, to follow where He leads.  

Where the Bridegroom leads goes far beyond any unity of hearts that is neither fruitful nor unto death. He beckons to a cellar where the best wine is still waiting, where we each are awaited, a place of consummation where mutual recognition is finally fully realized. Relying on an emotional crutch, one can never ascend the magnanimous heights alive in His indissoluble embrace or sound those terrible depths flowing with His very life. 

Thus, as one is given over to prayer, tender power tears us away from selfish alliances to make room for a more fitting love, like weeds pulled from around a rose.  Such a loving touch shatters only to set free. Its hurts only to heal. What seems as stern as death unleashes astonished encounter, unexpected fecundity. 

Homecoming, holy inebriation, jubilation and an overflowing heart - all at once in forgetfulness of everything, all else left unknown, but that gaze of love. Fire has ignited a living flame and aglow, darkness loses its hold. Life cries out of the silence and the smile of birth reaches a new mother's tired eyes.


August 23, 2020

Chastisement and Mercy

How can Unchanging Love not chastise those who, if not corrected, will destroy themselves? It is true that disaster stings the good and bad alike, and that the suffering of grave evil is not simply the result of a moral failure - not individually or collectively. Both innocent and guilty suffer death and tragedy strikes without regard to our achievements - meritorious or ill. Reality is too rich and complex for a simplistic approach to such a difficult and painful question.  Yet, it is also true that evil is related to the mystery of sin - a miserable absent love that ought not be, but that has come as unintended consequence unleashed in human history and in every heart.  God is not indifferent to this evil and has taken our side against it.  He also knows that even a good man sins and needs correction if he is to stay good. 

In chastisement, the tender concern that Christ Crucified reveals only acts in accord with itself: a divine punishment, an admonishment from on high, heaven's correction - all of these are simply the same superabundant kindness, but in relation to those who act against it and meant with the same divine philanthropy that summoned humanity out of nothingness. It is not a matter of shaming and blaming, as if God were an abusive parent, but extreme love acting in an extreme way to prevent an terrible evil.  Running away from Love's Truth leads to folly's loathsomeness ... it is to prevent us from being frozen the the fire of self-hatred that the Lord acts in history to help us come to our senses.   

When we suffer, it is good to ask ourselves how God is present and what He may be revealing in a difficult circumstance. The Judge of the Living and the Dead inconveniently disrupts the enchantments of boorish satisfactions. When we suffer, the scales fall our of our eyes and we notice what previously we too easily overlooked. God allows sometimes overwhelming difficulties, not to diminish us, but that we might discover His hidden presence in ways that we did not know could be possible. In finding this hidden presence, our dignity and noble calling is realized. Here we discover, despite our complaints, that He never upsets any other order than that of our own shrill discordance. 

Made to resonate in peals of joy echoing in love's undying hymn, we are spellbound by a dirge of deafening accusation and anxiety. Thus, He chases false mourners away only so that we might know a new joy.  He pushes over tables of greed and manipulation, driving out those who would commercialize that which ought never be bought or sold. If his anger is disquieting, this is because our own unquestioned conventions numb us to the dehumanizing shock of material bondage. We need to feel shocked by the indignity that we suffer or we may never discover the greatness that we are meant to know. Thus the Lord shakes the depths of our piety to unveil how prayers limited to the profitable, comfortable, and respectable lack the freedom that true worship requires.

God's desire that we might know true worship gives reason to believe that what sobers and humiliates may disguise dire warnings that our sacred purpose is at risk. If left unchecked, a flight from Love's light can lead to an irrevocable refusal even to the point that one finds kindly warmth an eternal torment. Such is the power of human freedom.  We can, if left unaided, define ourselves against the purpose for which we were summoned into existence.  If we live within a well insulated artifice of illusion, the Creator knows that such walls are too constricted for those who bear His Image and Likeness.

If such a terrible possibility hangs over us, so too the cruciform reason for our hope. The Holy Mighty One gains nothing when we run away into darkness. It gives the Crucified King no pleasure when we refuse the mercy of the Father.  He has already taken the form of a slave, emptied Himself and suffered death - how could He be satisfied if we were lost? If only disaster can sober us, loving Providence pulls back one blessing for the sake of another. Thus, the Lord permits even catastrophe, bringing down nations and whole world orders, let alone our own prodigal ways, if doing so will bring even just one of his children to his senses.  A deeper prayer animated by Fire from Above and a new trust born from the heart of the Trinity allow for this sacred purpose, obstacles is not worthy of our dignity are overcome, and what once seemed impossible to hope is freely given. 

August 22, 2020

Fire and Judgment

The smell of smoke and hazy horizon aglow at night evoke wonder over what God is doing. A fiery sword looms over a once indifferent and indulgent coastline as firefighters and first responders fight against impossible odds. There is goodness in the heroism that such sacrifice unveils, and, for many, this has become a time to pull those who we cherish a little closer, to give thanks for such blessings that we do not deserve. Still the questions: is God angry with us and have we fallen out of favor with Him? It is a biblical question that Saul did not grieve enough before the Lord and that David wept so bitterly that only God could comfort him. Our hope is hidden here. Deluge and Fire are symbols of Christian initiation - for Christ has changed the punishment of death into a threshold for eternal life. 

We ought to feel ill at ease before the Face of Love. A certain fear should grip us who otherwise self-reliant have failed to question the false security we take in our enchantments.  The arrows we let fly by day in the form of calumny and heartless accusation fall under the shadow of our Judge. Love is not ignorant about our efforts to pin on someone else the responsibility for the dis-ease that infects those dark places of our hearts. Love knows that we fear bearing the weight of responsibility for what we have done and failed to do.  Love knows the dignity that we have stolen from our neighbor through indifference, and this Judge of the Living and the Dead is never indifferent to our plight. He knows that however much we have wounded our neighbor and left him for dead, we have wounded ourselves even more and He will not abandon us.

God is Love and Love is Fire. The standard of burning Love measures that quaking rancor that shakes ground from under foot while offering footing only on perilous peaks of righteous indignation.  The Divine Scale with its very warmth weighs those celebrations of rage that expose envy's wound, and Love's eternal brightness illumines that cavity of covetousness broadcast with shameless satisfaction. Ever attentive, Love gathers as a storm, never deaf to the constant drumbeat of dread filled stories meant to paralyze until deadly specters haunt every gathering, ready to strike when least expected.  Not indifferent, thunder in the skies recall how Love also weeps when the most vulnerable are traded as ponds in nihilistic games, discarded and despised for not being more useful in the latest social engineering experiment. When self-satisfied arrogance seems to have destroyed all that is noble and true, Lighting reminds us that Perfect Love rectifies humanity with sudden but sobering shock and awe until ablaze in the hearts of heroes, He rescues the oppressed from their plight.

August 21, 2020


The contemporary man, or rather post-apocalyptic androgyne, loves building walls - not the kind that sets boundaries in which to thrive, but rather divisions for manipulation and oppression. Having once clamored hope, he peddles fear: whether border barriers or fences between angry neighbors, he is all about dungeon partitions. Caged in narratives of constant crisis: his own state media shames, patronizes, intimidates, moralizes, and blames him as would an abusive parent with ever changing but always oppressive norms. Without regard for consistency and coherence, a new ethic divides the communion of hearts that he might otherwise know, and this not for nobility or greatness or tender goodness, but for sterile, hygienic and self-absorbed cellphone monological explorations. After he exhausts himself in the effort to appear in compliance with masked manipulation, we must ask, did he really tear down the wall of atheism or simply expand it until the West woke in partitioned dialectics? 

Not just brick and mortar, not just digital, but spiritual automated sliding class doors, gleefully operated by empowered middle managers of social fantasy, torment the anima technica vacua.  His technocracy's new "uber"class thwarts any thought that might spoil its commercial calculations until he is gated away while he secretly indulges in forbidden conspiratorial myths vulnerable to winds of rage and despair. What is performed in the most visible part of life, is also erected in its most intimate moment: blocking off the very fertility that married love was meant to know until he has stifled any hope of new birth. 

Not limited to the secular and profane, barriers define his piety. He sacrifices the most vulnerable at the altars of a biomedical complex when, in the name of public safety, he condemns his own flesh and blood to dismal facilities of loneliness. In the meantime, governmental powers use scientists to raise barriers of prophylactic policy between the faithful and God, the communicant and the medicine of immortality.

How do we preach the Gospel to this creature atop his self-made precipice of doom? How do we offer him a cup of water or a word of truth as he crawls along such perilous labyrinthian paths? If deluge cannot wash him free, is there fire that might consume walls never meant to be?


August 14, 2020

Splendor Dawning in Social Fault Lines

As tensions mount in our social fault lines, a new splendor dawns. The singular victory of an Unstained Heart is disguised only in the disfigurement caused by cacophonies of judgment, accusation and blame. Families may turn against each other - the powerful against the vulnerable, the prideful against the lowly, the rich against the poor, the born against the unborn  - but holy truth shines where least expected, flashing forth free, liberating from the cold harsh shackles of a merely material existence. Through a maternal fiat, the Lord of Peace extends his reign even as calamity grips the world and whole churches wonder whether to pray. 

What this mother's Son is doing in the world is a painful question before which all speech fails. Do we find ourselves at the threshold of events that anticipate the end of time? If the conscience is at peace, there is nothing that cannot be faced. Sun and moon can fall from the sky but we have a Word that lasts forever. In the end, Love wins - love alone remains. That is why we have had the courage to camp on doom's precipice for quite some time, crying out with the Bride's hope-filled prayer, "Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!" If this is chastisement, we believe that it is the Divine Action of the One who works in human history with loving discipline, lest left to our own devices, we destroy ourselves. 

The idolatry of success and security is shaken to the ground of truth when the Son of Mary comes in judgment: if you have been shaken, the Lord who loves you is nearby. Earthly dreams are dispelled before the dawn of heaven. Under the shadow of this glory, cry out to the Lamb who was slain for He opens horizons so much more meaningful that the boorishness of the latest cause and convention. By simple conversion of heart, this Cornerstone holds us together, building us into a temple that will never pass away. By this mystical Body, in society's very fault lines, God's love reshapes the world.

August 9, 2020

After the Storms, the Whisper outside the Cave

Vitriolic accusation might impress, intimidate and intrigue, but never liberate holy humanity. Indeed, mud into which Uncreated Breath has whispered life, we step toward freedom only on the ground of truth, even when that ground seems ravished and shaken, as if the winds and waves of the sea. Commercialism's covetous conventions and envy's mores are too flimsy to bear the weight of of enfleshed spirits. Visible images of Ineffable Being have walked with Un-circumscribed Power in the cool breeze of Eden's twilight and, at His command, dare across the most perilous abyss if only to be with Him. Love knows such freedom beyond the vision of all indulgent rage. Thus, no cunning serpent, no matter how wrapped in the latest news cycle, ever has the last word on humanity - it is always crushed under heel in its very attack.  

True. Displays of sheer force might capture our psychological capacities for a moment. Promises of power might entrap us in sheer folly. Harassed too long by the latest empty myth the mind can crack and betray all that is most dear. Nonetheless, a deeper mystery remains untouched, and the tender stirring of untold immensities still hold sway. 

If we hide ourselves in deep caves of fear, the Father's voice can still be recognized no matter the violent danger that passes by. That is why, no matter how loud the upheaval, a more profound truth does not cease whispering through our being, calling us out of whatever hole we hide and into the light of day. It may seem long before first light, in the utter exhaustion of the moment but a new brightness is coming toward our long harassed barge. Set out for that glory! If pushed under waves of despair and trapped in a would be grave, in a split second, the hushed silence echoes with that strong hand that no-one could have suspected: no storm of disease or social unrest or terrible disaster is able to keep down the soul that has heard the Lord say, "Come."

The powerful of the world are self-satisfied in the absolute claims that they would have over human existence.  A righteous cause, a social agenda, all kinds of commercial projects to lock up the winds of human freedom - winds and waves of more profit, more advantage, more prestige easily distract us from those Eyes who gaze upon us. Even feigned prudence in the face of a disease can be used to indulge that need to control others when one's own life is out of control - give control to Him.

Shackles of fear often hold for a while. Yet those mysteries blowing in the heart do not long bear imprisonment. The Spirit who stirs them so will not suffer them to be stilled by ought else than what moves in His own Mystery for humanity's sake.  His saving Hand is swift and catastrophe's sting upends the latest money-changing tables, throwing them out from the sanctuary in which true human sovereignty thrives. The working of such justice is not to be feared but searched for the mercy it unveils. 

After storms, earthquakes and fires, we might yet climb out of our caves to hear that still small voice remind us of our sacred purpose. A tender whisper chides deep within raising questions about how we live and the secret judgments that we have passed on others. New realizations emerge: the heart withers on boorish indulgence and indignant rage exhausts itself soon enough. More noble breath than the gasp of rancor and strife is meant to fill the sails of desire. Those humbled meek mourning in vulnerable poverty, life loving, peace making and mercy giving, suffering all kinds of persecution; these are the ones in whom Life billows anew in this dying world, and through them, bright freshness awaits outside the cave.  

August 2, 2020

Under the Shadow of the Cross

Under the Shadow of the Cross, an uneventful silence can take hold.  We want something to happen but instead we are pulled into a sort of idleness. We want some sort of result, something that will help us prove to ourselves that this time was not wasted. Instead, there is an empty expanse and the only horizons we see are lonely, raising more questions than answers. What difficult voids wait in the heart! Yet, here, the Living God has created an ache that He yearns for us to share, a sharing in we know not what.

This silent stillness at times seems oppressive and something to be avoided. So we distract ourselves with our daily routine and with our routines in prayer and piety.  We conjure memories of the last time we felt spiritual, but no memory can satisfy the need to be still.  So we wait, humbled, haunted by the thought that no feat of spiritual industry can remove the piercing thorn. God Himself does not touch it but permits us to discover Him in our inadequacy. Thus, in the vestiges of religious accomplishments, our heart aches on deserted ground, sharing in we know not what.  

In the public square, this same silent prayer boldly rings for the cruciform shadow that we know in our hearts also covers the marketplace of ideas. Infuriated health officials vent oblivious to the ringing tolls of coming glory. Pedantic political powers relentlessly blame, but resonances of grace bathe the humble. No deadly hum of satanic accusation can thwart the hidden splendor lurking within hearts enchanted with prayer's good spell.   Something noble is being conceived in sacred hiddenness while the powerful cast about unaware of the perilous precipice before them.  A new unheard of hope stirs, even as earthly dreams seem shattered, in a sinner's fellowship, sharing in we know not what.    

Whether amidst the exigencies of the daily grind or hidden in the privacy of one's room, a deeper kind of prayer finds those eyes who search for us in love. Only as we learn to rest in the seeming idleness of love will we ever catch a fleeting glimpse of His inexhaustible gaze. Only a shared gaze catches unexpected voids and the haunting expectations that await us in love cannot be guessed until they are welcomed by the soul, even in its not knowing.

Idleness before the Cross of Christ takes on new meaning -- for in that intimate stillness to which He calls us one heart speaks to another, an abyss calls to abyss, voids co-inhere in that surprised possession of the other, that astonishing, but hope for, mutual delight.  He aches, knowing our plight, having chosen to take our side and we ache, seeing His plight for our sake. Here is the landscape of mutual recognition: He suffers our misery for love and seeing that He has so suffered for us, we wish to suffer in love for Him.  Something no words can say is shared, under the shadowof the Cross, known by that loving faith alone.