Friday, May 29, 2015

Your Life Forever

Live your life, and live forever. That is the promise. Your life. Not mine, or your neighbor's, or that of your priest, or the Pope. Not even that of Jesus Christ.

Live your life forever.

Do you think your life is not good enough? Do you think God made you as a joke? Wrong. He made you as you are to live your life, and in the name of Jesus Christ you will have eternal life.

So get used to being who you are. You have a long way to go.

Now, I understand the temptation to be someone else, the allure of saintliness. The desire to put one's self aside. I know all this and I have practiced this. And in doing so, I have become reacquainted with who I am and learned to accept who I am the better to live my life.

But Christianity is not a matter of mere training to live. We are directed to go forth and preach the good news in word and deed. How will you do this unless you first accept who you are?

All you are, so-called strengths and weakness, must be lived in prayer and service. All for others, in service, yes - but be sure you accept who you are as you serve. Give of yourself, not in imitation of another.

Do not serve in order to escape who you are.

Think of the saints, those strong-willed men and women, many with patchwork lives, redeemed in service. But you will not have life unless you are willing to offer the life God gave you.

Husband or wife, son or daughter. Priest or parishioner. Doctor, vagrant, street car conductor. Artist, baker, student, law maker. These are roles - not who you are or who I am, in our hearts, as God made us. Be true to you, your conscience. Live the arc, the full narrative, the entire passage. Live your life.

Whether or not - fill in the blank. Whether or not you preach, pray, hope, curse, love or live in fear. Live out your life, as God hopes you will, the life given that you might have eternal life.

Live now that you might live forever. Do not be a hypocrite, making of yourself a paper angel. Follow your thoughts to their conclusion. Live in that truth that you might live forever.

Deny the Holy Spirit - your conscience - at the peril of eternity. To lose eternity, promised, simply by losing yourself, God's gift.

In mirror aspect of the sacrifice of his only begotten son, our Lord, live your life as it was given you. Take God into you, as the Holy Spirit holds your heart, and live your life. Forever.


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Silent to Prepare

An angel came to me in the form of silence. I had not prayed for this angel, but it came to me nonetheless. I had prayed for words but I got this angel. The angel took up residence in my life and it sent me its message, and it waited.

The angel waited patiently, as angels are wont to do. I too was patient, in my silence, for I knew I had earned it. Any visitor is a blessing, especially angels, and this one was no exception.

When I had waited long enough, the Lord came to me and told me to speak to the angel, to the silence I had allowed myself. I asked the Lord for the words I should speak, but He too was silent, which I took to mean that I had the words I needed to speak.

And so, on this Pentecost, I speak the words that are in me. And the words are these.

The world all all who are born to it, who are born and die, all belong to God. And God's will is the will of the world. And the will of God is that we love each other until death, and that we must let nothing stand in the way of that love.

Those who live and suffer, even in silence, if they have the energy and will and ability to write, should write for those who live and suffer who do not or cannot write. You cannot know the end of your words or any kind act except to be kind, to write, to love, and in doing so except that you have done the will of God.

What is silence? Silence is death to love. To be silent is to know and share in death. And we are no more expected to be silent than we are required to die before the appointed time.

As I pray, I seek communion with God in order to prepare to speak to you. If God is silent, then I have failed to love.

What is love? It is the eternal word.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Liturgy Me

I have spent some time in ordinary and extraordinary Mass ways lately. I have helped to serve and been served. I have seen a lot that you and others have seen, in a space of days, these days, these last several ones.

One gets in the habit of thinking, evaluating. Or one falls that way. I know judgment is fatal, at least to ordinary men, like myself, and now I am sure of it the way I am certain of my beating heart. The difference is that some day my heart will stop, but I will be no closer to passing true judgment.

Against the miracle of transubstantiation we place time in the commonly employed sense, and with time come thoughts and things. We lose the moment, or we lose our lose of self for the surety of considerations, both local and universal. An opinion is born. In the next moment, turned inward, we form to support our thought.

Off hand, I cannot recall the Lord saying, "This is what I think...." He says what God wills, and in doing so he does His will. But he pays close attention to the thoughts and words of others. Yes, I suppose the Christian should listen, and listen closely. And pray. And in doing these things, in doing the will of the Father, live well.

What is time in all this? It is suddenly clear to me that time has no meaning independent of the eternal in the instant. We say that for God the eternal is an instant. But until this moment I have not understood this point. But, like so much that is God, only this view really makes sense. If I were to take time at face value I would never escape the here and now, would I?

If I thought time meant anything, anything at all, except that it is the one pure moment of God, of Love, I would forever be comparing the Word with the world. I would wonder at deliverance. I would look for signs. I would care for realities as posed against truths. In short, I would live as I often have, and am tired of, so very tired of at this point in my life.

Breathe a breath and give life to a hypocrite. We cannot be pure, for now, but we can listen for the word of God, made manifest in any number of ways, and admit to ourselves those things that we otherwise would be loathe to grant ourselves. I mean relief, and peace, and joy - but especially peace.

I ask this question. If we are ready to grant that the angels and saints attend our every Mass, at any given moment, how can we stoop to believe that time is anything but this moment, now, realized in the perfect, suspended, quality of exact feeling, without doubt?

That time is this moment, forever, that it is faith itself seems as clear to me now as that the tree follows the seed as it gives way to dust.

This now is it. That eternal is now. This is the invitation to grace, to kindness, to love for the other, that knows no bounds. What boundaries would there be in the eternal now? What need have we of limitations? Our life is the invitation to that moment, this now, the eternal where we dwell, forever.

Mary, blessed Mother, pray for us.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Open This, Open That

I haven't written much since January. That's almost 4 months of not writing much, not feeling like I had anything to say and, besides, feeling just out of my skin. Part of this was Lent, which I was able to go into fully this year, abstaining form alcohol, cigarettes, video games and that other pernicious habit (as I told my wife), writing.

Writing, pernicious? That's an odd notion for a writer. But not for the writer I was in January and since then, until today, that is. I was uncomfortable writing and I was uncomfortable with writing - both my writing and that of others. Almost all writing, in fact, except the occasional factual text, the Bible and the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church.

Okay, that sound like bragging, but it's not. A Catholic writer - moreover, a writer who in the mid-stream of life becomes Catholic - is bound I think at some point to ask him or herself Why bother in a fresh and challenging way. If the Word is truth, and the Word is the Lord, what can I add but confusion or, at best, redundancy? Ultimately, or essentially, does not all personal writing arise from a desire to be known as a writer; that is, as a feature of ego? This notion was supported in encountering Lent, a time of abstinence, where we enter the desert with the Lord and commemorate his passage and becoming as well as our own.

There is no juncture of the Catholic experience that I have not found to be life changing. Just wanted to mention that.

So I stopped writing both blogs and poems, and I thought of myself as a former writer, quite sincerely, in the same breadth of belief that encompasses St. Paul's call that we empty ourselves and become slaves to the Lord, to serve Him and each other as He served us. This was hard for me, but right.

It was right to forgo art. And I was ready to accept that the rest of my life would be more of the same, an ever deeper engagement with self-forgetting and self-renewal, in the name of Jesus Christ, while attending dutifully to life's material precincts: family, church, and job.

But you know God. His plan encompasses the here and now as surely and in the same moment that all eternity is present. I do not pretend to understand God the way a man knows himself, but I worship God as a man who believes He is truth.

In this time, since January, it happened that our priest, Father Petrus Hoang, was relieved (to be reassigned) and a new priest appointed, Father John Boyle. Father John is many things, among those being a priest who is dedicated to the dictates of the Church in matters of liturgy. We have experienced changes in the celebration of the Mass that I will likely discuss another time, To the point of this essay, on the past Monday evening I attended an extraordinary Mass. My first.

Now, I agree with the Church that all Masses are, well, Masses. They matter the same, the same supreme sacrifice is commemorated...well, I won't try to go into an explanation of the Mass here, as I am not a priest.

I am not a priest, but Father John is, as is Father Petrus.

I am a layperson - salt and light, as Father John mentioned in a long, cozy chat he was kind enough to grant to me one day, just as Holy Week was upon us. There were things I wanted to discuss. Not questions, so much, as matters of the parish and of the self that I felt I needed to present to Father. Things that needed talking outside the confession booth.

I digress. Back to the Extraordinary Mass, which was fine and lovely, and so like our Church, which can be depended upon to have its ears open to our present spiritual needs even as the past is alive and the future promise equally present. "If I were a priest," I thought to myself, "I would celebrate the new Mass and the Extraordinary Mass." 

With that thought, the bars on writing were suddenly lifted. I realized what I had been wanting and what had held me back. The underlying premise of my OpenCatholic project was that of person proposing that Catholics be open to others about what it means to be Catholic and equally open to the beliefs and experiences of others. My assumption was that "OpenCatholic" was, at heart, a progressive stance. But it's not. It really very traditional. Very, meaning utterly. I mean, I have always felt I was acting in accordance with the Law, of course, but the perspective I assumed was, at the very bottom, personal. I had a point of view I wanted to share. Thus my skepticism of its real worth.

But I am no longer skeptical of my writing, or of myself. I am dead certain that the Catholic Church, in the new liturgy and the old, worships God as He has instructed us, and in a way that is pleasing to Him. I am open with what I am, as God in in me, and I am open to any and every person as a child of God, not as they think they are, but as their belief compels them to be. I love this life, this journey. I ask everyone to make good, hard choices and to be open to the Holy Spirit who will speak to them of the present and the eternal moment. Of now, as known, and now, as realized through the Word.

I will never put a term of judgment to any one's choices, except as they insult the Holy Spirit, the voice of God.

Put another way, let those who have ears listen, those with eyes, see.

I do not know that any writing, any public or personal act, could add to that admonition. Live fully, openly, that you may have life eternal.

In His precious name, Amen.