Saturday, May 24, 2014

A prayer for now

I am not the church

I am not the law

I am, for now, a man

I have a human heart

A heart given me by the Lord

I claim nothing for myself. I simply proclaim what is God's

I have nothing to say that God has not said to me, to you, to a world

The world is everywhere, in all time

The world exists as God exists

The world loves as God, the Father, loves the Son

We strive and I, too, strive

I am not ashamed

I am not alone

I fall

I fall forever

Until

Until he lifts me up

He is the Lord

The Lord of all

He will lift you up

We will be together, forever

He will lift you up

Just say, Lord, lift me up

Lord, do not forget me

Lord, I am sorry

Lord, I wish

Lord, I love

Lord

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

God & Memory: a Circular Thought

All memory blends for me. I can select and describe and explain certain events, but I cannot be held accountable for perfect recall, and certainly how it is a thing happened (instead of something else) or what occurred from out of or because of a given event is more or less beyond my capabilities.

This tendency, or predilection, has become ever more apparent since having joined the Catholic Church. And, yes, I am older now, but I ma certain that my lack of dependence on memory is tied to my now-present utter and constant belief in God.

St. Paul says, If God if for us, who can be against us? I might say, As God is in us, who cares what else is?

What is memory, but a kind of mental stuff, or collateral. How often do we use memory for the sake of a present or future good? Do we not tend rather to dwell on memories to reinforce a sense of loss, or regret, or even resentment? Let's take a positive memory - my wedding, or the birth of my son - memories that I trust will be with me until the day I die. But, will they survive that memorable event? Jesus says that we will be like the angels in heaven, suggesting that earthly bonds will be vanquished for the Glory of God. On the other hand, we can be sure that the Saints hear our prayers and know us as persons, by name. I therefore trust that if I were to die tomorrow, and if the Lord saw fit to bring me into his Presence, I still would know my wife, my son, and all those on earth I love. And, like St. Theresa, I would savor the opportunity to help them.

But all this has nothing to do with memory. Rather, it is controlled by the fact and matter of presence. The day of my marriage to Endi, my wife, is a precious memory. More precious by far is the fact of my real and present love for her. And, like the birth of my son, Jackson, his presence in my heart is such that nothing could erase it, so powerful is the bond.

So powerful is the bond, at this present moment, and into the future. It does not require an act of "memory" for me to feel and know the truth of my love for my wife and son. In the same way, I do not have to remember to love God.

I go through my day, and I bet it's a lot like your day. At any given moment, I know that I can figuratively turn to the Lord and that He will hear me. One of my favorite experiences during Mass, particularly when I am reading, is to look up and to the right to the statue of Joseph, a patron Saint, when I feel his presence, or the urge to connect. None of this concerns memory. I do not remember the Lord. I do not have to.

So. Memory. It's all fine and good. I use it at my job, that's for sure, where I seem to be some kind of walking/talking living repository of whatever the paralegals or attorneys need to know about trademarks; and I like it for sports trivia. That's a forced usage, as my 13 year-old son loves to ask my opinion about this or that football player and one or another year's production. But this is just the business of life. A bit of the fluid that makes love go.

As for what's worth remembering, speaking critically, well, I'd start with the Hail Mary and end with the Apostle's Creed. Ha! That about sums me up!

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Defending the American Nun - Our Kind of People

I was all set to write a blog discussing conservative tendencies in American Catholicism, chiefly as they are expressed in lay persons' criticism of Women Religious (nuns). I wanted to explain what strikes me as a paradox, that those called to mercy seem more interested in echoing church doctrine in a spirit of blame than in the Holy Spirit. I wanted to do this to draw attention to the Christian notion that one should serve the Father and each other. This is what it is - I wanted to point out - to obey the commandments and to love one's neighbor as oneself. I thought I might invoke a central fact, that as Christ is in us, we should respect and serve each other, as brothers and sisters in Christ. I wanted to state, for the record, that it does not concern me what people write or believe as they explore their lives, except that I applaud them for it.

I wanted to say, if the Nuns of America are inclined one or another way, in their hearts, in word or deed, I say, God bless them.

I thought to point out that a church such as the one presided over by the American Catholic Bishops can ill afford to chastise anyone who is faithful to the Word, lest they appear as blind hypocrites. I thought it might be instructive to mention that the Church is losing respect and adherence, not because of the works/works of nuns, but because its certain elements of its leadership, and their supporters and media mouthpieces, are seemingly dedicated to remaining out-of-touch with the hearts of the people who do the living, working, praying, and dying in this great land of ours.

I wanted to thank the Lord for Pope Francis, who appears ill-disposed toward petty criticisms and fractious language. I thought to express a convening thought: that the Catholic faith is true by dint of the words and actions of Jesus Christ, that doctrine is intended to serve that notion, not dictate the occasions of the heart.

That the Mass was made for mankind, not mankind for the Mass.

Finally, I thought to state that I have no intention of respecting ill-considered words or behavior. That any Catholic who feels license to disrespect another for an act of conscience has missed the point entirely and would do well to re-read the Bible, cover to cover, and pray accordingly. In closing, I wanted to mention that I have never met a nun I didn't like, but that there are plenty of men out there who could use a course in manners and sense.

I thought I would do this. And then, I did.