Monday, April 13, 2015
We are in Easter Time, Paschal Time, and will be for some time to come. We are being immersed ever deeper into The Mystery of the wonder-full, awe-full events that took place 2,000 years ago. As we are drawn into the mystery of the Gospel narratives, we are led to the following understanding. The events we read about, though occurring many years ago, are be lived out by you and I, today. As it was with the historical Jesus, Who became The Risen Christ, so, it is with us who bear the name Christian. To help us with this mystery, we must grasp, understand the following; in the spiritual life there is no time, there is no space. God, in spite of our greatest efforts, cannot be controlled, defined, or confined, to anything we may feel, think or say. We can and do, pay lip service to the fact that, "God's ways are not our ways , and His thoughts are not our thoughts." Let's be very honest here, when it comes down to the real nitty, gritty, we want it our way. How often is God told to hit the road in time of pain-full struggle? When things do not happen the way we expect them to happen, there is a serious, volcanic spiritual eruption. A lot of people in our lives are affected, not for the good, when we do not get our way and our expectations are not met. I have to keep before me, it is right in front of me as I do the dishes, "Expectations are planned resentments." I am not always happy to be reminded of that reality. Even though I repeat it again, and again, I still am blindsided. Joe then, is not a very happy camper. The only thing that I can say is, I am now more ready to laugh at myself than I have ever been. I love the following; "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans." I have kept God in great humor over these many years. The Gospel narratives reveal to us how "anxious, shocked, distressed and distraught” the followers of Jesus were, on that first Easter morning. On Friday, their world, as they understood it, had been turned upside down. He, Whom they had followed, and had great expectations of, was not only dead, but His body was not in the tomb. Then, they are told He has risen from the dead, and has even appeared to some the people they knew. What was this all about? It is too much to grasp, to understand. They are afraid confused, bothered, and bewildered. They seem to be, "sheep without a shepherd." With the death of Jesus, who is there now to feed, nourish, guide, and direct them? They are now faced with the feelings of being lost and so alone. As it was with those early followers of Jesus, so it with us today, when we are forced, by life, to encounter death, loss. When they are at their lowest, The Risen Christ appears. Even though He is risen, He has His wounds to show them. The Risen one carries the wounds of His crucifixion. We must always keep that reality ever before us. The Risen one is also, The Wounded one. So, too with each one of us. When we are wounded, not if we are wounded, and in time experience healing and new life, (our personal death, and resurrection) we must always remember the soul in NEVER cured, it is cared for. When we stop doing the caring, then we will revert back into the experience of the crucifixion. We can compound our mistake, by looking for some poor scapegoat to blame. When we get into the 'blaming game" we are on a slippery slope leading to even more serious pain and sorrow. Now we are going to alienate others, when it is the strength of others, the community, we need. We as human beings will belong to the community of "wounded-wounders”, or belong to the community of wounded-healers." That is a prerequisite for belonging to a Christian community, which is a community of wounded-healers. We are following in the footsteps of our Wounded Good Shepherd. As we immerse ourselves in the Gospel accounts of that First Day of a new creation, what a shepherd He shows Himself to be. He is out and about offering reassurance to those who were disturbed, disillusioned and disheartened. He was seeking out and searching out those who seemed to be the most lost. We have the example of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. He was seeking out Mary in The Garden. Then there was Thomas. He was the disbelieving, unbelieving one, not the doubting one. I believe that in calling him, "doubting Thomas" we give doubting a bad name. Thomas was in real bad shape. He was not with the community. He chose to grieve alone, in private he was doing his grieving. How destructive that was and as it was so it is for us today. Even though we want to grieve alone, it is destructive. Look how unfeeling he had become. Look what he wanted to do to Jesus? Read again what he demanded happen in order for him to believe in the Risen Christ. Was that the request of a compassionate follower or who was in the throes of grieving a loss? With the help of Megan McKenna we will delve deeper in the suffering Thomas, and his presence within you and I today.
Friday, April 3, 2015
There are books that you read. Then there are books that you read and read and read seemingly always for the first time..For me, such a book is “The Holy Longing" by Fr. Roland Rolheiser. I find myself going back to reread that which I have previously read. The result is, I always begin to question my memory. In the rereading there will always be some word, or phrase that will pop up and strike me right between the eyes. I have to ask the question, "where have you come from and where were you hiding the last time I was here?” Of course I get no answers, I just continue to talk and question myself. The following is an example of that which always carries new insights, leading to a new way of experiencing and celebrating life. I can honestly say it has lead to a new and deeper connection with the Eucharistic Celebration. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is celebrated from a completely different place with the following understanding ..."The Paschal Mystery... is a process of transformation within which we are given new life and a new spirit. It begins with suffering and death, moves on to the reception of new life, spends some time grieving the old and adjusting to the new, and finally, only after the old life has been truly let go of, is a new spirit given for the life we are already living...We can see that there are five clear, distinct moments within the paschal cycle...Each of these is part of a single process, an organic one, and each needs to be understood in relationship to the others to make sense of the Paschal Mystery. Each part is one process of transformation of dying and letting go so as to receive new life and new spirit." (To save space I am combining two diagrams in to one.) 1. Good Friday - "the loss of life--real death" For us ,today, this means we are required to, "name your deaths." 2. Easter Sunday..."the reception of new life ." For us today we are required to, "claim your births." 3. The Forty Days. "A time of readjusting to the new and for grieving the old." We are required to "Grieve what you have lost and adjust to the new reality." 4.Ascension..." Letting go of the old and letting it bless you, the refusal to cling. "We are NOT to cling to the old, let it ascend and give you it's blessing" (All this results in...) 5. Pentecost... "the reception of a new spirit for the new life that one is already living." Our part..."Accept the spirit of the new life that you are in fact living." ( He then goes on to add.) "This cycle is not something that we must undergo just once, at the moment of our deaths, when we lose our earthly lives as we know them." (Oh how I wish that were true. Sadly no. He goes on to remind us. "It is rather something we must undergo DAILY, in every aspect of our lives." Christ spoke of many deaths, of daily deaths, and of many risings and various pentecosts. The Paschal Mystery is the secret to life. Ultimately our happiness depends upon properly undergoing it. Now here is some more food for transformative reflection: ..."regarding two kinds of death. There is terminal death, and there is paschal death. Terminal death is a death that ends life and ends possibilities. Paschal death, like terminal death, is real. However, paschal death is a death that, while ending one kind of life, opens the person undergoing it to receive a deeper and richer form of life. The image of the grain of wheat falling into the ground and dying so as to produce new life is an image of paschal death." Ever since I first read that book, it has made it somewhat easier to journey with individuals and families that have encountered loss. Loss comes to each and every human being in many and varied ways. Each loss is unique. Unique to the person, the family, community, nation and the family of nations. We are all affected by each loss, to a greater and lesser degree. We have a common bond as we all participate in the human race. As we go so does the future of our world. We may use every excuse and rational, but there is no denying that truth. If we all lived our lives out of that truth what a different world we would have. The seed has been sown, in the darkness of the tomb. Because new life burst forth from the womb of the tomb, (The Risen Christ), so we now await a new heaven and a new earth that is slowly and inexorable appearing. It cannot be stopped. There is no power greater than God's power. If there was then that power would be God. What we do is install the so called "powerful one" as god. We may go so far as to worship that it's altar. That altar is constructed by the forces of power, property, and prestige. How easily we get seduced into worshipping at that altar and seldom, if ever, at the altar of The Living & True GOD. When these gods of illusion disappear, as they surely will, all is not lost. This loss is in reality a death, a paschal death, though we do not yet know that. God does not depend on our knowledge. The loss of power, any power is a death. The loss of property and prestige is also a death, that must be grieved for. In healthy grieving, we will be lead to the understanding of The Paschal Mystery hidden deep within all that has happened, and is happening. (Our God is smooth.) This so called we are experiencing is Not an ending, this is a beginning. Do we believe it? A question we have to answer again, and again, until our terminal death. To sum up ,when I am challenged to enter into despair and begin to see life through the lenses of terminal death, let the above diagram challenge my "stinking thinking." Let me have the honesty to admit that when I choose to dwell the place of despair and negativity I am choosing to live life grounded in a lie. I am not living out the truth and the freedom of the Paschal Mystery. That is our decision not anyone else's. A decision we make, consciously or subconsciously each and every moment we are given to live. Therein lies the difference between living and existing.