Sunday, June 24, 2012
Glenn Beck in a recent interview with the Canadian Sun News Network decried the paucity of sincere preaching from the pulpits, in particular urging us all to live out the Gospel mandate to personally care for one another as Jesus Himself mandates when He tell us that He IS the hungry one, the one naked, lonely, sick, thirsty, in prison. [Mt. 25:31-46] In general western societies have since World War II created a nanny state, a culture of entitlement, resulting in massive government debts, immense human suffering through unemployment, loss of homes because mortgage payments cannot be made and more and more body politics of division if not outright hatred. A friend just returned from an extended trip in Europe and when I asked what most struck them the reply was stark: “People are afraid.” In conversations and through snail and email from around the world more and more I hear how anxious, outright frightened and discouraged people are. We cannot, must not, as Christians simply hunker down and blame the media or the wealthy or politicians, neither can we be active participants in a political correctness which accelerates the shift of contemporary life ever deeper into the swamp of division, hatred, darkness and the culture of death. Each of us, the baptized must to stand up and live the Gospel with our lives without any compromise whatsoever. We must live, pray, yes sacrifice for the conversion of the whole world. I begged the Lord in prayer: “What Lord is the connection, Lord, between the chaos in the global economy, Islamism, abortion, the loss of a sense of sin, the divisions and hatreds, failure to truly live the Gospel?” “Contemplate My broken open Eucharistic Heart.” Like Christ we must have our hearts broken open. [Hos.6:6; Hb.10:5-7; Ps.51:19; Mt.22:37ff; Jn.19:34] Christ loves us with a broken open heart. The Church has always seen in the breaking open of His Sacred Heart the gushing forth of the sacramental life of grace. Standing before our crucified Lord, this river of grace pouring forth, we contemplate the ultimate act of the virtue of trust in and abandonment to the loving will of the Father. Christ’s Holy Resurrection is the glorious love-fulfillment of that trust. Here we discover the source of our own trust and abandonment to the Father’s Holy Will for us, to His love. We must, with intimate confidence in Him, turn to the Holy Spirit, offering Him our hearts as surely as Christ offered His to the lance. [Jn.16:13-15] After His Holy Resurrection Jesus comes to us, as He did to the Apostles, and finds us, often like them, doubting and struggling. He invites us in our pain and confusion to touch Him by touching His Holy Wounds that we might know He is real! [cf.Jn.20:27] That we might believe. It is through the locked door of our hearts, if we open to Him [Rv.3:20], into the deepest regions of our terrified hearts, that Jesus comes and it is in allowing Him to touch those deep wounds that we touch Him. Our most tender Lord does not force Himself upon us, as we read in Revelations 3:20. He comes only as far as the door of our being. There He patiently remains waiting, knocking, and seeking leave to enter. The wonderful thing about allowing our hearts to be broken open is that henceforth there is no longer a closed and locked door barring His entrance! If we yearn in the slightest to understand the wonder of our existence, the true meaning of life, the reality of our being persons of Christ, we must stand at the foot of the Cross, contemplating Jesus of the broken-open Heart. On the Cross Christ has taken all our fear, pain, vulnerability, loneliness, questions, tears, sins, and more than we can ever comprehend, upon Himself. This is ultimate gift of Self. Only if we open wide the door of our being, offer our own hearts to be broken open, will we experience the entrance of Christ into the depths of our hearts, spirits, souls wherein He shall fill us with His own light and salt us with fire that we are able then to go forth and make self-gift to all our brothers and sisters as salt and light [Mt.5:13,14] and truly lay down our lives, moment by moment, as gift of true love, as He has asked us: love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Heavenly Father. [Mt.5:44, 45] The breaking open of our hearts is in essence experience of Eucharistic fullness. It is a deep configuration to Christ wherein Holy Mass and Holy Communion become more than a sacred event we participate in for an hour on a Sunday: Eucharist becomes the sacred reality we live in our very flesh, mind, heart, soul: the praxis of faith in all relationships, choices, endeavours, joys, sufferings, in the public square and political choices, in art, culture, law, philosophy, in all of life. “Broken and distributed is the Lamb of God, broken and not dismembered, always eaten and never expended, but making holy those who receive It.” So exalts the Church in the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom! We must allow the Holy Spirit, in a real way, to break and distribute us to everyone as surely as we receive into our very beings the One broken and distributed to us. St. Paul tells us that we are called to ‘bear one another’s burdens’ [Gal.6:2], and the Apostle adds that it is in bearing one another’s burdens that we fulfill the law of Christ: [cf.Jn.15:17] It is the law of love, the law of gift. We most likely would resist less the movement of the Holy Spirit within us to sanctify us with a broken open heart that we might truly love, if He were to break us open through some sweet mystical experience. In reality our hearts will be broken open through struggle with faith, with God, as Jacob struggled before us [Gn.32:23-33], the reality of spiritual warfare as shown in Revelations chapter 12. When we receive Love’s wound then we enter into a depth of communion of love with the Holy Trinity where ours becomes the beloved’s own experience. [Sg. of Sgs. 5:4] Moment by moment too, in a manner which is quite hidden and a protection from any form of pride, we are broken open, and healed too, through the nitty-gritty of the sacred duty of each moment: in daily life, relationships, work, life! It is then we can rightfully say with the Apostle, and rejoice in its truth and be thankful for the experience[s] of being goaded by the Holy Spirit! [2Cor.12:7-10] Jesus, with great joy, at the very beginning of His public life for our redemption, proclaims the truth of His being sent by the Spirit, the same Spirit who is active within us. [Lk.4:17-19] Because we have free will, and thus a tendency to sin and to a persistent type of attempted self-protecting which actually is a closing of our hearts to Him, the Holy Spirit is necessarily persistent in His work of breaking us open! This is made clear in St. Paul’s extraordinary Letter to the Romans, especially chapter 8, in particular verses 5-9, 14-17, and 26-28. Christ comes without ceasing to the door of our being begging admittance. Of course we all know that as a result of our own sin-wounds and the wounds inflicted upon us by those who have sinned against us we often have hearts like something sealed in a jar or walled up in a tomb. Christ knocks at the door of the tomb in which we have buried ourselves, or where we are held captive by some addiction or fear and He cries out to us: ‘Come out!’ [cf.Jn.11] Christ seeks to shatter the jar of our fears and illusions. If we but allow Him to do so, and allow the Spirit to accomplish His work within us, then we shall experience the joy of a broken open heart which becomes a wide open door through which processes the Most Holy Trinity in communion of love, filling us with the utter fullness of God. [Jn.1:16; 2Cor.4:11; Gal.2:19,20; Gal.3:27; Gal.4:6,7] Faith is the gift whose fruit is trust. Trust is the willingness to say, and mean it no matter what our emotions may be doing at the time: “Yes, you may break me open O Holy Spirit and configure me ever more fully to Christ of the Broken Open Heart. You may empty my being of all that is not holy, set me free from what has me captive, heal my blindness which is so dark because I fear, fill in my poverty due to my sins with the Good News of Divine Mercy, free me from having been pulverized and downtrodden by the allures of the world. Declare within my deepest being the year of the Lord’s favour so that I live no longer, only Christ lives in me!” It is to make St. Paul’s prayer, while on our knees, our own! [Ep.3:14-21] If we willingly, frequently, put our face onto the ground at the foot of the Cross, crying out in all truth: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner, once we have soaked the ground with our tears, wept for our own sins and those of the whole world, we can lift our eyes towards Him and contemplate with all the love of our broken hearts He who’s Heart they have broken open. There, in the depths of the communion of love, we will come to understand a broken heart is both a loving and an obedient heart. We need this intimacy with the Divine Lover and there is no better time for this contemplative union than when we have received Him in the Holy Eucharist. Only through intimacy with Christ of the Wounded Heart will we ever overcome the fear of having our own hearts broken open. Only through that same intimacy will we willingly embrace the cross daily and follow Him wherever His love takes us. The Holy Eucharist is communion of love. Communion of love is Trinitarian. The heart cannot be without love. Either the heart embraces the reality of Real Love Himself and the Love offered us, or the heart will accept unreality and become captive by some other. When we truly love someone and that love is real and holy we yearn to be with them always, we think about them, make choices with their best interest at heart. In a word we make a gift of ourselves to them. Thus with each Holy Communion our hearts ever more humbly, ever more generously, ever more zealously ask the question about the ‘to do’ aspect of our being [Jn.6:28,29] and live it out precisely by being who we are! At the heart of everything is faith. Faith, as we know, is not only ascent to the truths of faith, but it is also a deep trust in all that the Church asks of us. Faith does not tinker with the content of truth. Humble obedience is the external witness of faith. When we are disobedient, even in little things, we begin to distance ourselves from that obedient intimacy with the Father which Jesus offers us in communion of love. Indeed persistent disobedience leads to an ever greater disconnect between the content of faith, the moral imperative of faith, and little by little we find ourselves seeking to avoid confrontation with ‘the world’ and either become mute in the face of such evil as abortion or, as many Catholics do, advocate for positions absolutely warring against the Gospel of life. Who among us would ever want to hear Love Himself ask: DO YOU ALSO WANT TO LEAVE? That question, in John 6 verse 66, speaks to the heart of our struggle to be truly humble, faithful, obedient disciples of Jesus, true witnesses to the Gospel of Life, for all life flows from He who is our life. Since reality is we cannot love without a broken open heart reality also is that when our hearts are truly broken open we become icons of charity and icons of communion of love. The icon of the perfection of God’s love within us is the obvious love we have for each other. If we allow our hearts to be broken open our hearts will become Eucharistic hearts, filled with the fire of the Spirit, the selflessness of Christ, the love of the Father and then everyone we touch, take into our hearts, will experience radiating from us the splendour and beauty, fire and love of the Holy Trinity and in the midst of this culture of darkness and death the stench of death will be overcome by the perfume of Christ and the darkness will be shredded into nothingness by the Light of Christ.
Friday, June 08, 2012
TWO SPLENDID WOMEN Almost 260 years ago, traveling through the bush of what is now central Canada, a man stopped at a spot which eventually grew into a settlement and then a village named Combermere. Almost a century later a married couple arrived from the United States where they had served the poor in the inner cities and began to serve the poor in the hills and valleys surrounding Combermere. Almost twenty years later the title by which they, and the men, women, priests who joined them in their apostolate, prayed for the intercession and guidance of Our Blessed Mother, was officially recognized by the Church and so little by little devotion has spread to Our Lady of Combermere, whose feast the Madonna House Apostolate celebrates each June 8th, the day on which new members of what is now a worldwide apostolate, take their promises of poverty, chastity and obedience. The full story can be found at: http://www.madonnahouse.org/ourlady/index.html What is remarkable about this, as with the more familiar stories of Our Blessed Mother appearing in places now large and famous, such as Lourdes and Fatima, is how, not unlike Bethlehem, Nazareth in their day, Our Lady clearly prefers to appear in little places, to seemingly little and unimportant people. I find great comfort in that, especially when tempted to want to be noticed myself – there is a great blessing in being hidden. Much easier to serve the poor, everyone, just as Our Blessed Mother did while on earth, does still for everyone on earth, when we are not in the limelight! Some twenty years or so after the original statue of Our Lady of Combermere was blessed a girl was born who today as a woman celebrates her birthday, for she was born on this day and when visiting a shrine of Our Blessed Mother in another country and seeking to be led to meet a good Catholic man to fulfill the vocation of holy marriage, unbeknownst to her at the time when she was born of the feast of Our Lady of Combermere, a boy had been born on the feast of the Presentation of Our Blessed Mother. He would be the man she would meet, love, marry, and with him build the domestic church.[ See: http://catholiclove.com/] Two splendid women, Our Lady and Lucille, the woman born on Our Lady of Combermere’s feast day. Two women whom I love and trust, whose guidance and prayer I rely upon.