Monday, September 6, 2010

Unbelief...Disbelief...

I was able to pick up Fr. Rolheiser's great book, "The Holy Longing”, at a bargain price in a thrift shop. Thrift shops are a favorite haunt of mine. I have been able to buy some great books and wonderful music, at unbelievable prices. There are two fantastic chapters in the above book. One chapter is on the Spirituality of The Paschal Mystery, and the other is on the Spirituality of Sexuality.
Both these chapters are a daily read. In this book Fr. Rolheiser quotes Henri Nouwen;

"Our life is a short time in expectation, a time in which sadness and joy kiss each other at every moment of our life. There is a quality of sadness that pervades all moments of our life. It seems there is no such thing as clear-cut pure joy, but that even in the most happy moments of our existence we sense a tinge of sadness. In every satisfaction, there is an awareness of limitations. In every success, there is fear of jealousy. Behind every smile, there is a tear. In every embrace, there is loneliness. In every friendship, distance. And, in all forms of light, there is the knowledge of surrounding darkness....But this intimate experience in which every bit of life is touched with a bit of death can point us beyond the limits of our existence. It can do so by making us look forward in expectation to the day when our hearts will be filled with perfect joy, a joy no one shall take away from us."

Then Fr. Rolheiser writes the following commentary: "What Nouwen affirms here, in simple language, is what Christian Theology means when it tells us we are living in the interim eschatological age. We are living in that time between Christ’s Resurrection (the initial triumph of God’s promise to give us fulfillment) and the final consummation of that promise, the end of time (when all tears will be wiped away).
During that time, and it is an interim time, we will always live in tension, waiting for the final consummation of history and our lives. Our happiness depends not on overcoming this, which we cannot do in any case, but in making peace with it. And that peace is not made by a stoic acceptance that we cannot have it all in this life. It is made by living our incompleteness in face of a future promise.

To live in the interim eschatological age to be like a couple waiting to be married who, for a good reason (for example the death of a parent), have chosen to postpone their marriage for a period of time. There is a certain frustration in that, but that frustration is offset by the clear knowledge that this is only a temporary delay, soon to be overcome. Our essential “inconsummation” in this life must be understood in this way. The frustration is real, but it is, as Nouwen so well puts it, something we will one day overcome, albeit that day will not meet us in this life.

“To understand the time we live in, is to be less frustrated with the fact that it cannot offer us the final symphony." Our spiritual journey, then, is the everyday living in that reality. Fr. Rolheiser hits it right on the head when he points out it we are dealing with real frustration, and that frustration is now. We do not deal with this frustration by fighting it, no use we cannot win, or by making attempts to fix it, which we ourselves cannot, it is somehow in the acceptance that we are able to arrive at some peace. Acceptance of who we are, and who God is, in that reality lies the key. God is God, and we are not. WE have the great, deep desire, given to us by our God, to be totally one, once again. That is our journey into a oneness with who we are, and in that process we find union with Him, who is our Source, and Destiny.

The Psalmist provides us with those wonderful lines, "out of the depths I cry to you o Lord. Lord hear my cry." When we allow ourselves to taste the essential helplessness, hopelessness, and powerlessness of who we are as human beings, then our Savior God will come to us with those consoling word, "My Beloved here I am. I am always standing beside you. I will not, I cannot desert, abandon you. You are to me as beloved as your brother Jesus. The love I have for the both of you is the same.” Can you believe that? It is not the reality that you have difficulty with, it is a deepening faith that will bring you to that place. It is yours to have. Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it will be opened to you. Always keep in mind, “My ways, are not your ways”. My time is not the way you figure time. I will come at a time and in the places you least expect. “It has been this way, and as it was so it shall ever be." I believe Lord, help my unbelief/disbelief.