August 31, 2022

God's Presence when Empires Fail

We need to find the gaze of Christ. His look of love changes everything - but until we find it, a whole horizon of hope is hidden when we need it most. Everything else is passing, even the great empires of our times.  It is difficult to write about this gaze in the midst of political collapse, but God does not stop acting even in the midst of so much uncertainty.  In the face of a whole cacophony of conflicting cultural narratives, it is easy to be distracted in curiosity: with all this bad news, is there any good news?  With everyone grasping for control even as the world spins out of control, let us remain focused on what God is doing.  

The Bridegroom does not grasp or enter into competition for our attention.  The Eternal Son does not need to caste dispersion on those who disagree with Him.  He is not limited to act by only the most sensational display of power.  Instead,  the Savior of the Word is solemnly present in silent hidden majesty.  He prefers to act as would an artist - with delicate, painful subtly. So does He bring the work that has begun in us to perfection. His sovereignty undaunted - the Lord reigns in peace even as heaven is at war and the earth unaware of its peril.  

What of evil and the calamities that surround us?  The Word who holds in being all things knows that nature has turned against those He loves because they have turned against nature. No anger but regret over the plight we have brought on ourselves.  But more than the disorder of nature against humanity and humanity against nature, the Bridegroom grieves over His Bride - the wolves who attack her will not avoid HIs judgment. Those are destined for mill-stones who think that He has not made her holy and immaculate. Like lighting flash He comes to shatter the safe conventions that those without reverence presume to rely on. Woe to them who playing politics and power stand in His Way.  

Even still, His love is patient and does not waver.  He knows that the Heart of the Father aches over how we have squandered ourselves on what is far below our dignity and He knows how the Father waits for us to come to our senses and turn towards home.  Even as we take our first step, the Trinity pulls up divine robes and runs as if forgetful of all sacred dignity - to us who still reek with pigsty.  God runs not to shame or scold, but to welcome and embrace, to bring home.

Thus, the Word made flesh rebukes the fever of sin and every form of diabolical praise. Out of love for the Father, the Great High Priest even gently rebukes us for wanting Him to stay where we are in our present life circumstance instead of following Him where the Father sends Him - for He leads to our true home, to the things that are above, to the Holy of Holies.  Not God of the familiar, convenient and comfortable, if we will follow Him into the Heart of the Father, even in times such as these, we will live in such astonished amazement - flooded forever by overflowing fullnesses of meaning and exceeding goodness. Here is the true source of peace - and the only hope for our people, our children. Our Father's love, a divine love no nation's nihilism can ever overcome, is unleashed here and now in the gaze of Christ - what freedom and greatness awaits those who dare to glance into those eyes.  

August 29, 2022

The Rosary -- threshold to Holy Mysteries

The Rosary opens a threshold to sacred memories in the heart of the Church, mysteries from the heart of Our Lady that the whole Church should ponder with her.  If you have not taken time to make this prayer part of your daily routine, it is a good time to begin.  From the Sign of the Cross and the Creed through each Our Father and ten Hail Mary's, the beads of the Rosary remind your hands to surrender in prayer and the gentle repetition on the lips help the heart recall the goodness of God even in the midst of anxiety. In a secular world where active efforts are made to sideline what is sacred, the Rosary is a threshold to holy Mysteries, a portal that opens into the very heart of God.  

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August 27, 2022

The Doors of Silence

The portal into deep silence requires silencing of memories and curiosity.  This is because when we enter into a sacred place, we must set aside worldly cares.  It is not that the world holds us back - for indeed, God created the world to reveal his glory.  But it is the case that we put the secular before the sacred and pay homage to things that are quite beneath our dignity. To silence oneself before the sacred is to allow God to raise oneself up from the concerns that are below so that we might receive His love from above.  We need to unbind ourselves from things and people who bog us down so that we can raise those we love  to God even as He lifts up our hearts.  In this deep silence, the most noble desires of the heart, even as they die, are raised up reordered with new life, with undying joy. 

This rule seems harsh - but on the Cross Jesus gave up His own Mother to achieve our salvation and the glory of the Father. Renunciation and self-denial enters this place of invincible love and keeps us there.  The Cross is the portal, the threshold into this deep silence -- a stillness in which God communicates His love in such a way that not only our own life but the whole world is transformed.  

In the face of all the political rancor of our time, the temptation is to believe the cultural powers and political forces have the upper hand.  If people unleash aggression against their own bodies, their own sexuality, their very gender, we should not be surprised that they will also act with irrational hostility toward their own institutions, countries and even the Church.  If there are such people in those the world, we should never be scandalized to find them in the Church as well.  Yet there is something more powerful than the lure of power, riches and honor. A still small voice rings out above the cacophony of anxious efforts to control humble humanity and even the Church. Those who let this voice into their hearts know a freedom that cannot be oppressed, that no amount of calculation can predict or control.  Under the silence of the Cross one discovers how to welcome this irresistible truth - for the renunciation that love makes goes beyond the hostility of the heart.

This renunciation is not heartless or cold. It is tender and painful and beautiful. It tastes that sacred sorrow that alone finds eternal beatitude. The love of Mary for her Son and of her Son for his Mother was not diminished by this letting go - instead, their love for one another bore fruit for the whole world.  So it is with us when we subordinate all our other relationships to the plan of God for our lives. We discover a deeper silence - a place of welcome and hospitality toward God in our hearts, a sacred place that aches in great stillness for His coming. Those who find this place have entered into the deepest truth about being a man before God - about being male and female before Him. By giving the Lord the first fruits of our attention and devotion, He unleashes power in our family to pour out His love in ways we otherwise could never imagined.  

August 21, 2022

The Rosary

Murmuring of voices joined before lighted candles, common whispers on fervent lips, a faith filled fingering of humble beads; in all these ways the rosary expresses the deepest cries of broken hearts and the resounding hope for a new day.  Demeaned as a symbol of radical nationalism, and even a call to violence, the Rosary is actually a pathway to mature prayer and human greatness. Since believers began to substitute "Our Fathers" and "Hail Mary's" in the place of the 150 psalms, centuries of saints have found peace in the angelic and ecclesial mantra. This even in the face of war. Those who pray this summary of the psalms regularly have witnessed that it changes not only one's own heart but even the course of world events. 

In a pharmaceutical world where many wander in aimless fear of whatever next catastrophe might shorten our lives, one needs a compass to find the truly meaningful. The Rosary is a map, a compass, a walking stick for a journey into the the heart of Jesus. The holy mysteries chart a course. Biblical words of prayer are footsteps on the pathway. The Cross around which the Rosary unfolds supports the weight of one's existence. In each of its mysteries, the riches of Christ's crucified and risen humanity are opened - joyful, luminous, sorrowful, and glorious.  In these mysteries live a mother's memory of her Son and the Son's love for his mother, things that they both treasure and that they both long for every disciple to know. In the Rosary, heart speaks to heart - the heart of God into the heart of man, the heart of man into the deep things of God. This portal into greatness and glory remains relevant even in the face of  impending doom. 

The world needs the hope that the rosary binds fast to the heart.  The most authoritative sources tell us that global temperatures and weather patterns pose an inevitable threat to human existence. The more honest voices will also admit that materially and scientifically there is very little we can do about it. It is time to turn to prayer.

To attribute the consequences of our own actions to divine justice is not to believe that we are sinners in the hands of an angry God. Having rejected God whose only desire is our good, He humbly and respectfully has delivered us into our own hands. We are the authors of our own demise - not God. Our lack of care for the world is merely a projection of our own self-hatred. Such is the mystery of sin - it hurls us back into the nothingness from which we were summoned into existence. Having made a mother's womb the most dangerous place for human life on the planet, it should not surprise us that our planet is ready to abort us too. Yet, it is through calamity that the Lord continues to hold out hope to us. Each new catastrophe is another invitation to return to prayer - and the Rosary accepts this invitation.  Are not bad weather and natural calamities signs that something is out of whack and invitations for us to return to our senses? The humble beads running through our fingers by help us stand up and turn our face to the Father's House.

In the Rosary, we confront the Cross of Christ who unveils the evil in our hearts and the tender mercy of God.  He knows our sin and loves us anyways, suffering our hostility even to the end. Human misery has a limit. It does not have the power to overcome Divine Mercy. This is why we discover healing from sin and conversion of life while reciting the Rosary and remembering all that Christ did and all that happened to Him. Those who stick with this prayer know that the healing and conversion ripple out from the heart and into the world. For those who desire peace, the Rosary offers not only a way out of one's own hostility but also the possibility of healing for our planet and the whole cosmos.  

The Rosary is a prayer not of vain repetition but of holy remembering. This prayer is ordered to recollection, to a pondering of all things in the heart with Mary.  At a time when so many have forgotten the sacred, the Rosary has us repeating over and over the prayer the Word of the Father commanded us to pray. When we are a little to occupied with passing things in the world below, the Rosary raises in us the greeting of angel Gabriel and helps us make our own the words of Mary's cousin Elisabeth.  Such prayer plunges into Biblical currents over and over again.  It is murmuring Scriptural truths and committing revealed standards to memory. In this, the Rosary raises our minds to the things that are above, to things that last forever. Our lips move to the rhythm of countless saints before us, and our hearts, with theirs, remember the inexhaustible treasures of Christ.  

Humbly remembering holy things protects against meaningless innovations.  The merely passing and sensational is raised as an altar - if we worship progress, we will become like it: blind and deaf. Not only strangers, but many of own our friends and family have been enchanted into thinking that all progress necessarily supports human thriving.  Ironically, they also turn to the most unreliable conventions for security in these dangerous times. Neither faith in progress or convention can save humanity.  Only God can do that and the Rosary helps us ponder what binds us to Him.

The Rosary lifts the mind to things beyond human convention or progress, a fresh newness that warms the heart in the face of fear and despair.  Not all breaking with the past is good: closing the door to the sacred is followed by a step into chaos. Conversely, to turn to the holy in the midst of chaos helps us find the only footing that can support our existence.  In the Rosary a soul can rediscover the loving goodness on which alone humanity thrives. Not a prayer that clings to the past - this prayer finds in saving historical events thresholds into the freshness of eternal life.  In the Rosary, a new beginning for humanity, for each heart, for every heart awaits.  

To pray the Rosary is to turn back to the holy - not as an escape from the profane, but as a way to sanctify it. The Rosary opens to a holiness more powerful than politics and ideology - something that reaches into the very core of human existence. The holiness that the Rosary knows comes before human history, holds up every historical moment and all of history is directed to it. This holiness is higher than the highest moment and deeper than deepest depths of life - and the Rosary opens to these heights and depths. Pondering in our hearts the things of God, the holiness into which the Rosary leads helps us live our daily lives at the pace of prayer, baptized in the prayer of God Himself, in harmonies not of this world, but without which this world is empty.

The Rosary recounts the memories of Jesus and Mary in a way that shapes how we see our lives and the world around us.  Only the ancient newness of the sacred helps us find our way through profane's progressive decay. Only the newness of Christ Jesus navigates the worn out exigencies of the the current age. The merely innovative in a dying world does not prolong its life but exhausts it to death, but receiving the gift of an ancient prayer just may provide true progress of heart.  If forgetting the truth about one's own existence threatens our society, the Rosary remembers a hope that evil cannot overcome.  Remembering the holiness of God through the humble beads of this prayer offers continuity in the midst of the profane and opens the riches of the Church in the poverty of the world.