Tuesday, September 11, 2012
We Irish are, or at least were, introduced to the existence of another world at a very early, early age. I cannot remember exactly when I was first became aware of the existence of a world beyond the world I lived in. I was told stories about the "little people”, "the pooka', leprechauns, the fairies, the banshee, "sacred circles" (seen in fields), haunting ghost stories, stories of haunted places houses and castles, wells, bushes in the middle of fields that will not be cut down. (There was a haunted room in the national seminary, Maynooth.) I was reading about the great legendary, mythological figures of Ireland and their great adventures in the world, beyond. I was enthralled, captured, fascinated with their many, many journeys into the world that is normally unseen. I found myself lost in the world of mist and mystery. I was fascinated with the struggles that took place in those lands that existed before time began. As it was, so it is today. I am have become more and more aware of what I was taught a long, long time ago that "the boy becomes the father of the man”. The knowledge garnered in youth, finds its validity in the living of life. "Myth never was, but always is”. How I have wrestled with that !!!!!!!. Throughout Ireland there are places called "thin places”. These are the places where that which divides the seen world and the world of mystery seem to disappear. There is a great blurring that takes place. These are sacred places and spaces. In those “thin places” one becomes aware there is more here than meets the eye. Here many, not all, become aware of a presence that cannot be explained, only experienced. You can say the world of mystery, is a world that is readily inhabited by the Irish, and that is ever before we have something to drink. Ad poteen (Irish home brew), and you really have a recipe for a real great adventure into the unknown. With that background I was well prepared for the change in sacramental theology that took place. When I was in the seminary there were the seven Sacraments. There were seven and no more. These are the guaranteed presence of our God. Then I heard the word sacrament applied to married couples. After some seeking and searching I became aware of the fact that there were still seven Sacraments, that is Sacrament with a big "S". There were millions of sacraments spelled with a small "s". Each and every person, place, event is a sacrament. Sacrament with a small "s" allows for the POSSIBILITY of the presence of God. There is no guarantee. As you read this you, as a sacrament, are doing sacramental work. All reality is sacramental. All that is real finds it's source of being in Being Itself. St.Francis said,"everything that is, is to be adored". Chardin, “There is nothing profane for him/her who knows how to see." We are always meeting the challenge of dealing with the reality that is unseen. We come to realize there is a world beyond what we see, hear, taste, and touch. I am faced with the whole world that exists in mystery. You and I live a life of mystery, as does the whole of creation. All of creation is seeking, searching, and aching for some sense of certitude. A certitude that will make this journey, as spiritual seeking having this human experience, a meaning-full experience. We have to look beyond what we have come to know to The One who exists in the world of mystery. This is The One, who is not confined to the human, to the finite. He is The Infinite One. We profess, in every mass, our belief in the One Who is "The creator of all things visible and invisible”. He is The One, The Creator who maintains all things in existence (this includes you and I) so "that not even the tensions and tragedies of sin, cannot frustrate His loving plans." We need to keep those hope-full words ever before us. Why? Because we, in our human experience, are constantly being bombarded with the limitations of our humanity. We need, and are provided with an antidote to this sometime toxic existence. That is why we need to be continuously “dipped and dyed” in the celebration of the great mystery that is the source of our strengthening and renewal. This great mystery is The Paschal Mystery. This is the mystery we have been baptized into, live every day, and celebrate in the mystery that is every Mass. In this celebration earth is united with heaven. We are in a “thin place”. In this sacred place where there is a union between who we are, as spiritual beings, and The Source of all that is seen and unseen. In this "union-ing", that, because of the nature of the reality, can only be achieved through the workings of The Spirit, we are nourished, refreshed, and renewed. The process of transfiguration, and transformation continues though, unseen. So then, deep within our lands of mist and mystery there is a living Reality. A Reality that exists, but is never completely known, or understood. This is The Presence that makes the place where you stand a sacred, a holy place. A place where another can encounter the One Who keeps both of you in existence. May you, as the hero/heroine, of your story come to an ever deepening appreciation of the dignity and the sacredness of the mystery you are, and the unseen world of mystery that surrounds you.