Welcome to another few steps on the hike we call, the spiritual journey. One person remarked this journey is just "a step long" and a mile deep. Well we can say "taking one" is easy, going a mile deep is real hard and difficult work. That being the truth, then most of the journey is going to take place in darkness. (Make sense?) Upon reflection, Jesus’ birth came at night, and as with all births, He, too, came from the darkness of the womb. His resurrected life began in the darkness of the tomb. It was from the darkness of the womb the fullness of new life sprang. Darkness just seems to never win. That is a fact we must repeat, again and again. We must always keep before ourselves, the awe-full, wonder-full, depth of meaning, that is hidden and revealed in the Paschal Mystery. We live it out in our every moment, of each and every day we are privileged to live. . Yes, that central mystery of our faith, is front and center, in our everyday living. "Life is not a problem to be solved, it is a mystery to be lived." As we live life, so we live the Paschal Mystery. We have been Baptized into the mystery. As we live life, so we live the mystery of our Baptism. There is no human action, on our part, that does not reveal some aspect of the contemporary Christ, to the people that are placed in our lives. What an awe-full mystery we are, and live.
Why do we spend so much time reflecting on The Mystery? From my own lived experience there are now some things beginning to become clearer. These are best summed up in the words of Fr. Rolheiser when he writes the following concerning the Paschal Mystery. These words I am coming to an ever deepening acceptance of.
" This is the central mystery within Christianity. Unfortunately, it is one of the great misunderstood and ignored mysteries within theology and spirituality. We pay lip service to the fact that the key thing Jesus did for us was to suffer and die, but we seldom really try to understand what that means and how we might appropriate it within our own lives." ...Christian spirituality does not apologize for the fact that, within it, the most central of all mysteries is the paschal one, the mystery of suffering, death, and transformation. In Christian spirituality, Christ is central and, central to Christ ,is His death and rising to new life so as to send us a new Spirit"
Looking back at my life, I am sorry to say, I too payed only "lip service" to that central mystery of our faith. When did the change occur? Just like the great number of people I have met, it happened when the wheels came off, and I found myself in the ditch.
There was the great fear that comes with being lost, and in darkness. There was no obvious path to travel. Merton's words were a consolation, "God I have no idea of where I am going...?” de Chardin, " the cross is a sign of growth that is accomplished in pain". Rohr reminded me that my cross that I have to embrace, on a daily basis, are my experiences of failure, rejection, and nakedness. The only place of ease, was during the celebration of Mass. It was that, and the comforting, reassuring word of others, that provided me with what was necessary to leave behind what was appealing, but destructive. Has this happened just once? Of course not, we all have to face again and again. That is essential to the understanding of the spiritual journey. We have to be taught, on an ever deepening level, what it means to be a real, and true follower, of Jesus Christ. With each experience of a deeper death, comes a keener awareness of what it means to be alive. With each letting go, there is the welcoming and receiving, of a new Spirit to give vitality to the life I am given to love today.
I will end with another quote from Fr. Rolheiser, "The Paschal mystery ,......is a process of transformation within which we are given both new life and new spirit. It begins with suffering and death, moves on to the reception of new life, spends 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."
How about that, with your cup of coffee in the morning!