Friday, April 3, 2015

The Paschal Mystery....


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.