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Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Christian without the Cross?

I think we'd be mighty odd Christians if that.

(Lk 9:23) And he said to all, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Someone wrote someplace, "love until it hurts" or maybe "it ain't love if it don't hurt." And who can forget that eloquent rock ballad, "Love Hurts" of decades ago? But what's love got to do with the cross? Everything -- just take a look at your nearest crucifix, or single mother or father getting by somehow, the heroic son or daughter caring for their ailing parent. They're everywhere, these cross-carrying heroes, imitating the one whose sacrifice is one with theirs, making theirs worth it (and doable).

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Finding the child at the Temple

I am learning something that is both simple and profound about faith, which is that, indeed, to children belong the kingdom of heaven. It came to me, as I prayed the fifth joyful mystery of the holy rosary, that one must relax and take small steps, and be uncomplicated as a child. The child in that episode is Jesus, about his Father's business, but doing what? At the Temple, he was (Lk 2:46) "sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions." That was the time for a child to listen and ask questions.

I, too, must be about my Father's business but how? I won't be writing the next Apologia, nor start being a catechist without training, much less a deacon. I need teachers; I need to listen and ask questions. I need to clean up my act as husband and father first. And I think I should see my spiritual director again. It's been a few months.

"Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see the distant scene; one step enough for me. I was not ever thus, nor pray'd that Thou shouldst lead me on; I loved to choose and see my path, but now lead Thou me on!" (From a hymn by Blessed John Henry Newman.)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Greatness bestowed

It seems to make no sense to view greatness in these terms: receive, learn, partake, obey, imitate, follow. Yet these are the paths to greatness, for Greatness is a person: God, and we cannot therefore take it upon ourselves. Yet this God bestows himself on those who are willing to receive him, and it takes a child's heart to receive on the giver's terms, not in the way the world thinks of what makes for greatness (Gospel today: Matt 18:1-14). And so he teaches: "whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

These antiphons from tonight's Evening Prayer are most illuminating, when taken together:
The Lord surrounds his people with his strength.
Unless you acquire the heart of a child, you cannot enter the kingdom of God.

It is by God's wonderful grace that this is penetrating my mind now -- took me long enough! -- and it fills me with such excitement and hope!

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

The promise of the Transfiguration of the Lord

.. is a promise of his glorious resurrection -- and ours. In today's evening prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours, the concluding prayer, formulated over the centuries of wisdom granted by the grace of God, goes:

O God, who, in the glorious Transfiguration of your Only Begotten Son, confirmed the mysteries of faith by the witness of the Fathers and wonderfully prefigured our full adoption to sonship, grant, we pray .. that, listening to the voice of your beloved Son, we may merit to become co-heirs with him.

and the reading quotes from Romans 8:16-17.

The Spirit himself gives witness with our spirit that we are children of God. But if we are children, we are heirs as well: heirs of God, heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so as to be glorified with him.

and so we pray with "the hope of being transfigured at the last day," always by the grace of God!

Friday, August 02, 2013

If you have confident hope in the Resurrection of the dead..

.. then how can we not hope that we can keep to our marriage commitment, a sacrament, a covenant blessed by God?
The thought came to me as I prayed the fifth sorrowful mystery of the rosary, the Crucifixion, which is at the core of our Christian faith. How can this horrible event and scene be at the core of what we believe, witness to, exult in and celebrate? How? because this isn't the last scene. There is the Resurrection. And so one may dare - must dare - to hope beyond what society might say is beyond hope, and to live that hope, commit action and decisions to that hope. To do so on thoe grounds just makes sense..