January 30, 2022

The Gates of Holiness

"Open to me the Gates of Holiness: I will enter and give thanks."  The holy is at once the point of departure and the destination of humanity.  What is sacred is also gated, a reality protected against the chaos of the profane and merely secular.  To enter into the Gates of Holiness is to find shelter from the dangerous voids that otherwise haunt our existence.  Bereft of what is holy, life easily drifts into meaninglessness. Indeed, failure to respect that the human person is first of all spiritual and religious before he is biological and political is a catastrophic failure of secular society.  

When we walk away from the Gates of Holiness and leave our hearts out in the cold, we loose the capacity to recognize the goodness of God and give thanks for the blessings that He lavishes on us.  We live in a world ordered toward the holy and we have begun to discover just how dehumanizing it is when we go against this order. Biological health and political acceptance are things lower than human dignity, things meant to serve the greatness of our vocations. Yet whenever we place a lesser good above a higher one, the human spirit is lowered rather than raised up no matter how respectable the lesser good seems to be. We are always diminished when we prioritize passing things over the unchanging love of God.  Those things were only meant to take us to the Gates, but they can only do so when we use them to seek God. When we seek them instead of God, we are locked out of the sacred, trapped in the profane. Bogged down in the mundane, we cannot lift up our hearts to the Lord, and we exist bereft of the truest and most just thing our frail humanity was meant to offer.

If we have done things that keep us locked outside the sacred, we also do not enter the Gates of Holiness because of things we have failed to do. We suffer coldness of heart, the coldness outside the Gates of Holiness, to the extent that we have allowed ourselves to be bullied into believing that it is okay to abandon the sick and dying when they most need a word of hope. We succumb to the manipulation of meaningless secularity when we convince ourselves to forsake gathering together with the Risen Lord at Mass, even if we do so for fear of earthly death. 

As creatures that are on their way through this world and not at home in it, we need sure reference points, signs that point the way, and standards under which we might rally to help each other move forward.  Such are the Gates of Holiness and Jesus Christ has opened the Way out of unsatisfied frustration and into a new fruitfulness for humanity. Without Him, even should we find these gates, we could not gain access or enter. But with Him, even in the very face of death and the loss of everything we hold most dear, a portal opens and we stand on that firm ground in whose vast horizons alone we find courage before the Face of God and the confidence to give Him thanks.   

January 15, 2022

The Pathway of Extreme Humility

Jesus Christ has opened up the pathway to freedom and this pathway is the pathway of extreme humility. It is a trail blazed by the Word made flesh and a journey that leads to the Burning Bush where the limitlessness of God sets the limits of man aflame with love. Love alone knows how to find this trail and faith, unshod and thus vulnerable, progresses step by step into what would seem to be powerlessness.  Such a journey is never an evading of responsibility but it is courageously engaging the task at hand with total reliance on God.  It is a pilgrimage that one makes under the authority and power of heaven. 

The earth is filled with chaos and its own power and authority are subject to futility and death. For this reason, no earthly power ever succeeds in stemming death.  Yet, the temptation is to grasp for and covet control even to the point of coercing the behavior of others. Indeed, in a world that is passing away, self-preservation means either gaining control over circumstances as long as possible or else losing it all together. The more one lives by the struggle for earthly power and authority in this way, the more one's own freedom is diminished until one is competely subservient to the very power coveted. 

On the royal pathway of true freedom, recourse is made to earthly power only as love for Christ deems necessary and then it is quickly surrendered. Indeed, regarding the possession of earthly power and authority, the pathway of extreme humility requires total indifference to anything that is not God's will.  Rather than taking control for the sake of control, one patiently provides order only to the degree that others might be drawn to the truth by love. 

This kind of indifference to earthly power is impossible except to those who by faith live under the power and authority of heaven. In the Kingdom of Heaven, confidence in the Father overcomes earthly fears and anxieties.  Even if one dies, death is defeated and sin has no claim over the heart before the love of God. Instead, a love stronger than death reigns over the chaos of life and leads to the sacred until one crosses the threshold into God's order and peace.  

A true orientation point for one's whole being is found when one takes off one's shoes before this Burning Bush and listens with the ears of one's own heart. Here, true authority and power are given not grasped in accord with one's identity and mission before the Lord. Here, God opens His Heart and one learns to rest in the glory of His Name.