Category Archives: After the Stations of the Cross

My grace is sufficient for you.

Why is this so difficult. Perhaps it is because I can’t see for forest for the trees…because I think I am a tree, in fact, the tree, around which the forest grows….  Perhaps because the delusion I know is more familiar, more comfortable, more “me,” at least as I think of myself to be, than the reality that I don’t know, don’t wish to know, wish to forget, wish to disinherit, wish to reject outright…but find that I can’t do that because it is me, the real me, the literally little, truly old me, the me that I work so hard to avoid, to overcome, to gloss over, to pretend I don’t know him, to laugh off, to kill off…but painfully I know in my heart of hearts that this is the “I am” of me, the real me that God gave me at my conception, the real me that was born, was baptized, the real me that I have been trying to hid in the closet ever since.

Perhaps we all have to come out of the closet, not the closet of sexual identity, though perhaps that may be part of it, but the closet of sin, of rejection, of attempted suicide of the real me by the false me…every day in every way, trying to run farther and farther from “it”, from me, but, to my horror and ever growing fatigue, is not only running along side me, but I find it is me…running.

Is there a difference between real sin and the delusion of sin in falling short of my imagined false image…All delusion, all falsehood, all lies, whether verbal or actual, i.e. lived out in act, is sin…it is rejection of the Truth, it is rejection of God’s goodness, it is rejection of God’s love, it is rejection of the gifts that God has given me from the moment of my conception until now, it is me clinging to the illusion of my mind rather that the reality of my cross.  For my cross is no more nor less than my life, not as I think I am, not as I want it to be, not as I imagine it is or should be, but my life as God graces me with here and now, with no soft lights, no make-up, no cameras, no fancy clothes, just life.

Mary, His Mother states that through the cross, God is being glorified in every person.  The miracle that God created is that by accepting God into my life, by allowing Him to determine what I do, what I say, what I think, who I am, I not only give Him the greatest glory, because I am not rejecting any of his glorious gifts which manifest Him to the world…but I also, though His divine providence, am carrying my life, my cross. I am not only coming ever closer to my greatest happiness, but I am living at this moment, in this place, with these people in this happening my greatest truth, my greatest reality, my greatest happiness.

Do not be afraid to carry it, Paul, my grace is sufficient for you….the more I can live His life, His love, His Truth, His Goodness, and the more I can shed, can die to the self I think I am, I wanta be, I imagine myself to be, I slave to be, I have sold my soul to be [though fortunately God has bought it back, has demanded it back, for it was obtained under duress, under false pretenses, illicitly, immorally, imprudently, pridefully, sinfully]…the more I can reject Satan and all his works and all his illusions…the more I can just be who God made me, the more I praise God, I reverence God, I serve God, I love God…and the more I love and serve everybody…since we are all in the same boat, the same ark, the same Body, the same creation, since we are all the same,… period.

My Son is with you and he will help you. Let us find, through the steps to Calvary; the roadway of our own true lives.

Help us throw off the picture of Dorian Grey that we carry around with us…this was the picture that Zachariah had of himself and his wife which he couldn’t let go of when Gabriel told him it was false and God had another reality for him, a reality of parenthood.

Help us adopt the reality of Mary that processed the words of Gabriel and, when confronted with a mystery, asked humbly what new reality was going to be given her by God.  She, too, was told, my grace is sufficient for you.

Advertisements

The Conclusions of Unbelief

If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all. [1Cor 15:19][1]  This, to me, is the saddest verse in the entire Bible.  And the most devastating

If Christ has not been raised,

  • then empty [too] is our preaching;
  • empty, too, your faith.
  • Then we are also false witnesses to God, because we testified against God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if in fact the dead are not raised.
  • Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
  • your faith is vain;
  • you are still in your sins. [1Cor 15:14-18]

All that is terribly logical.  And we are left with only logical conclusions, the most prevalent of which is “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you die.” [Is 22:13; Eccl 8:15; Lk 12:19]

The thing that always bothered me about this passage is that Paul turns it around and argues, not from the starting point of Christ, but from the starting point of the dead: If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised. [1Cor 15:13,16]  Note that he repeats himself, so his word order is not by accident.

If there is no resurrection of the dead, there would have been no reason for Christ to be raised. There would have been no reason for Him to suffer and die.  Indeed, there would have ultimately been no reason for Him to be incarnated, to become man.  It might have been better if He had just remained in heaven as the Son of God.  There He lives eternally.  No fuss, no muss, no involvement, no contact, no regrets, no love.

But look around. This is a creation that shouts: “I love you!”  This is a Creator who brings us flowers, who lavishes upon us all sorts of food, who nurtures us and comforts us with warm sunshine, cool breezes, lapping waves and twinkling stars.  This is a Creator who trusts us with the most dangerous, most exciting, best gifts ever: our minds, that we might know Him, and our free wills, that we might choose to love Him.

This is a God, we are told, from the first moment of our creation, loved and cared for us, giving us all creation for which to care and paradise within which to live.  He gave us the Tree of Life to sustain us.  He walked with us in the cool of the evening in the Garden.  All He asked is that we not eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Even when we disobeyed, He dealt justly but mercifully with us, not condemning us to eternal death or punishment but having us work out our punishment over the course of our lives, giving us another chance to respond to His love.  Even Cain, though he kills his brother, he allows to live.

And so it was down the ages.  Saving Noah and his family and making a covenant with them.  Calling Abraham, granting him a son, testing him and rewarding his faith with a promise to his family would become God’s people.  Sending Joseph into slavery that he might save Egypt and his own family and father.  Hearing his people’s cry and raising up Moses to lead them from slavery to freedom and their own new land.  Caring for his people with mighty Judges, with Saul, David and his royal line, with prophets who called the people back from sin and idoltry.

Then, in the fullness of time, God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.[Jn 3:16-17] Jesus had eternal life.  God has eternal life.  It is not for Himself nor His only Son that God sent Jesus into this world to pitch His tent among us…but that we who know Him, who love Him, who follow Him might not be dead forever, but might have eternal life.

God loves the world so much that, far from condemning it, He infused His own Son, Life itself, creation Personified, into the world to save it through Him.

How often does Love have to tell us: Why do you look for the living among the dead? We are the living, even though we die.  Death is but a door to a different and eternal Life.  Resurrection was not for Jesus alone…He is but the first, the proof of God’s love, the guarantee that we have much to which to look forward, a foreverness with the One who loves us more than we love ourselves.

Our daily problems and worries can wrap us up in ourselves, in sadness and bitterness … and that is where death is. That is not the place to look for the One who is alive! [Pope Francis I, Easter Homily, 2014]

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came also through a human being. For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order: Christ the first fruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ; then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power.[1 Cor 15: 20-24]

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

The Silent Sabbath

He descended into Hell.

Once I said, “In the noontime of life I must depart! To the gates of the nether world I shall be consigned for the rest of my years.”  I said, “I shall see the Lord no more in the land of the living. No longer shall I behold my fellow men among those who dwell in the world.”  My dwelling, like a shepherd’s tent, is struck down and borne away from me; you have folded up my life, like a weaver who severs the last thread.  Day and night you give me over to torment; I cry out until the dawn. Like a lion he breaks all my bones; day and night you give me over to torment.  Like a swallow I utter shrill cries; I moan like a dove. My eyes grow weak, gazing heaven-ward: O Lord, I am in straits; be my surety!  You have preserved my life from the pit of destruction, when you cast behind your back all my sins.[1]

This is the day when our Savior broke through the gates of death. He has destroyed the barricades of hell, overthrown the sovereignty of the devil.[2]

The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear. He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”[3]

He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment,…

But the righteous to eternal life.”[Mt 25: 33-46]Adam, Eve, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Lot, Melchisedech, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Miriam, the Judges, David, the Prophets, Joseph, John the Baptist, Dismas…what a procession of righteous. Sinners all, but repentant saints as well. “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

It was never about Him.  It is always about us.  It is always about the Father.  God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. [Jn 3: 16-18]

Christ, the new Adam, you entered the kingdom of death to release all the just since the beginning of the world, may all who lie dead in sin hear your voice and rise to life.[4]

[1]From Morning Prayer for Holy Saturday. Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

[2] From the Office of the Readings for Holy Saturday, From the Responsory

[3] From 2nd Reading of Office of the Readings for Holy Saturday, From an ancient homily on Holy Saturday

[4] From Morning Prayer for Holy Saturday