Archive for May 2012

God’s Bait

May 25, 2012

It’s not easy being bait
when the Divine Angler goes fishing for men–
but I take comfort in knowing that it’s a “bait & switch”–
the fish that lunges at me is caught by Him

I’m just going to be the most appealing little worm I know how to be,
for His purposes!

(see Mark 1:17)

A New Use for “Return to Sender”

May 25, 2012

My mind latches onto “neat ideas”
(in this case, designing a crochet pattern)
with the tenacity of a pit bull
–especially when I’m trying to concentrate
on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

I need my “Return to Sender” stamp for those too.

Wow, is it hard to send back ideas I want to think about!
But sometimes I just can’t afford them.
I need that “currency” for more valuable things.

God help me, back they go!

Return to Sender

May 22, 2012

I have a critical streak a mile wide.
When something’s just not right
it drives me out of my tree.
And the more I dwell on it,
the more I fuss and fume,
internally if not externally.
It just goes downhill from there.
The negative spiral can ruin a perfectly good day.

I’ve accumulated a number of tools for handling such things
over the years (I’ve been at this for decades!)
and recently added a new one.

If one receives an unwanted package,
say, from a book club or cd club,
they can just mark it “Return to Sender”
and send it back
without paying anything.
However, once the package has been opened
one must either pay for the contents
or pay for return shipping.

Negative thoughts are like that.

If I open them…even a little…
I pay for it.
But I have the option to hit “Return to Sender”
and wing them back where they came from
for free.

I’ve developed a mental “rubber stamp” for such occasions.

When I detect an nonconstructive thought in the making
I stamp it “Return to Sender”
and send it on its way…
and very quickly divert my mind with something constructive!
(Donna Cori Gibson’s sung version of the 1000 Souls Prayer
is especially good for that).
It’s helped a lot.

Revelation Unveiled: Have You Died?

May 22, 2012

St. John fell at Jesus’ feet as though dead (see Revelation 1:17).

Revelation 17:1, 19:10; 21:9 & 22:8 refer to John falling down to worship one of the angels who held the bowls filled with the seven plagues–
but each time the prostration seems to have been voluntary,
and the angels stopped him, telling him to get up, to worship God alone.

In Revelation 1:17, John falls down as though dead
not typically a voluntary thing!
And Jesus doesn’t stop John or tell him to get up.
He simply reaches out His right hand, touches him,
tells him not to fear, and gives him a mission:
“Now write what you see.”

There’s an element of resurrection here.
Given that John’s falling as though dead
was a direct consequence of seeing Jesus
–and experiencing the sword coming from His mouth!–
one could propose that John was pierced, penetrated,
slain by that sword
(as we should be every time we encounter this living Word).

In some sense, he died.

Nor was he resuscitated.
He didn’t go back to the same old life he had before,
to doing his own thing.
What he did during and after that vision
was purely the King’s business–
a whole new life.

That’s what Baptism is.

Do you not know
that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into His death?
We were buried therefore with Him by Baptism
into death,
so that as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father,
we too might walk in newness of life
-Romans 6:3-4

The Baptized have died.
Our natural way of life, our “old self”
is dead.

I have been crucified with Christ;
it is no longer I who live,
but Christ Who lives in me;
and the life I now live in the flesh
I live by faith in the Son of God
Who loved me and gave Himself for me.
-Galatians 2:20

Our natural life has a way of resuscitating–
of going back to life as usual.

We need resurrection,
a whole new life in Christ,
Christ living in me.

This is ongoing.

Every choice
needs to pass through the crucifying waters of Baptism.
Is this my old natural life
or the life of Christ?

I can ask of every decision,
“Have you died?”
“Whose life is this?”

An old song comes to mind (I haven’t been able to track down the artist):

Have you died?
Have you laid down your life?
Have you died
and risen to new life?
The love of Jesus Christ
is worth the dying price.
It’s a gift that you can open all your life.
Have you died?

Those who have died this death,
however repeatedly,
need not fear “the second death,”
the lake of fire (see Revelation 20:14).

And they will find that in this life, too,
those who lose themselves
find themselves (see Matthew 16:25).
Living the life of Christ,
the life of divine love,
is its own reward!

St. John fell at Jesus’ feet as though dead.
That’s not a bad way to start the morning’s prayer,
flat on my face before the Living One,
the One Who died and is alive forevermore,
Who reaches out in love to touch me, to tell me not to fear,
and to entrust me with His life,
with His mission for the day.

Now tell me:
Have you died…today?

Contemplation

May 22, 2012

I’m at the point in
Light Shining Through A Veil,
On Saint Clare’s Letters to Saint Agnes of Prague
,
by Edith A Van den Goorbergh, O.S.C., and Theodore H. Zweerman
where St. Clare unveils her own experience of contemplation
for St. Agnes.

I got a taste of it!

Wow.

Contemplation is a different plane,
a different dimension.
It’s not so much a part of life as a quality of life.

It pervades.

It’s nourished in silence and solitude
and the intentional turning to God in prayer,
but it’s by no means limited to that.

It’s a state of soul, a way of being,
broken open to the vulnerability
of eternal Realities.

Wide-open wonder!

It is SO desirable!

Fragile.

Tender.

Pulsing with life.

Like an exposed heart on an operating table,
a newly-hatched birdling in a nest,
an open wound.

God is tenderly protective of it
(which is why His contemplatives are enclosed!).

This is how the Blessed Virgin lived.
Jesus too.

This is the life of the Church,
the oyster in which irritating grains of sand
are turned into lustrous pearls of great price (see Matthew 13:45-46)–
where sins are redeemed,
heresies turned into illuminating doctrines.

We enter through those pearls,
those gates
(see Revelation 21:21)
for life!

Revelation Unveiled: We Were Never Meant to Follow the Beast

May 22, 2012

Much has been made of “666,” “the number of the beast”
from Revelation 13:18.

I’d learned from the Great Adventure that “6”
is symbolic of beasts in general
because that’s the day on which they were created…
and God established then & there
that no beast is a suitable partner for the man.

The man gave names to all the cattle,
all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals;
but none proved to be the suitable partner for the man
-Genesis 2:20

“666” is a trinity of 6’s,
a “trinity” of the beast,
a natural parody of the Trinity of three divine Persons.

Revelation 14ff makes it rather clear
that bad things happen to those who follow the beast.
This isn’t news–
we got into trouble back in Eden
by obeying a beast rather than God!
(see Genesis 3)

But we keep making the same old mistake.
Our culture today says we’re just beasts
and should be expected to act like them,
often holding them up as role models,
saving animals at the expense of persons.

It shouldn’t be too surprising
that our social life (or rather, social death)
has become inhumane.

We were never meant to follow the beast.

Revelation Unveiled: Precious Stones!

May 21, 2012

And I, John, saw the holy city, new Jerusalem…
And the building of the wall thereof was of jasper stone: but the city itself pure gold, like to clear glass.
And the foundations of the wall of the city
were adorned with all manner of precious stones.
The first foundation, jasper:
the second, sapphire:
the third, a calcedony:
the fourth, an emerald.
The fifth, sardonyx:
the sixth, sardius:
the seventh, chrysolite:
the eighth, beryl:
the ninth, a topaz:
the tenth, a chrysoprasus:
the eleventh, a jacinth:
the twelfth, an amethyst.
And the twelve gates were twelve pearls
-Revelation 21:2, 18-21

Putting on the mind of a child…

So what’s the significance of these stones?
What do they look like?
What colors are they?

I looked.
People have been debating that very question
since the days of the Early Church!
There is a connection with the precious stones of the ephod,
which the high priest wore when ministering in the temple,
each stone engraved with the name
of one of the twelve tribes of Israel (Exodus 28:15-21).
But we really don’t know which Hebrew or Greek word
refers to which stone, except that they were precious
and they were associated with worship in the temple.

I did pick up one tidbit, though.
The Greek word for amethyst, literally means “un-drunk” (as in sober)!
In contrast, the harlot of Babylon
(who obviously has no place in this celestial city!)
was drunk with the blood of the saints (Revelation 17:6).

Let us live honorably as in daylight;
not in carousing and drunkenness
-Romans 13:13

We belong neither to darkness nor to night;
therefore let us not be asleep like the rest,
but awake and sober
-I Thessalonians 5:5-6

A night or two later my prince and I read this in Evening Prayer:

Come to the Lord, a living stone,
rejected by men but approved, nonetheless,
and precious in God’s eyes.
You too are living stones, built as an edifice of spirit,
into a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices
acceptable to god through Jesus Christ.
-I Peter 2:4-5

Precious stones!

I’ve always thought of these stones as just “any old rock”
that happened to fit the spot…
but God calls us precious stones,
shining and colorful foundations of the New Jerusalem!

You form a building
which rises on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the capstone.
Through Him the whole structure is fitted together
and takes shape as a holy temple in the Lord;
in Him you are being built into this temple,
to become a dwelling place for God in the Spirit
-Ephesians 2:20-22

(This is the Church–see also Ephesians 5:24-32,
Revelation 19:7, 21:9-10)

He predicted it back in Isaiah’s time:

O afflicted one, storm-battered and unconsoled,
I lay your pavements in carnelians,
and your foundations in sapphires;
I will make your battlements of rubies,
your gates of carbuncles,
and all your walls of precious stones
-Isaiah 54:11-12

(This immediately follows the chapter on the Suffering Servant,
describing Jesus’ Passion, which made our perfection possible.)

It is our destiny to be beautiful,
valuable beyond price:
shining, radiant, colorful, precious stones
gems! Jewels!

But you know…
when you find gems in their natural state
they’re not all that impressive.
They look like “just another dirty ol’ rock.”

It’s only after they’ve been cleaned and cut,
polished and mounted in a suitable setting
that their true radiance shows.

In our natural state, we’re not all that impressive either–
just another dirty ol’ rock.

you are dust
and to dust you shall return
-Genesis 3:19

God knows our potential.
He created it!
He also knows what it takes to fulfill it.

That’s what trials are for.

There is cause for rejoicing here.
You may for a time
have to suffer the distress of many trials:
but this is so that your faith,
which is more precious
than the passing splendor of fire-tried gold,
may be its genuineness lead to praise, glory and honor
when Jesus Christ appears
-I Peter 1:6-7

One day God showed St. Catharine of Siena
the beauty of a soul in the state of grace.
It was so beautiful that she could not look on it;
the brightness of that soul dazzled her.
“O my God!” she cried out,
“if I did not know that there is only one God,
I should think that this was one!”
The blessed Raymond, her confessor,
asked her to describe to him, as far as she was able,
the beauty of the soul she had seen.
St. Catharine thought of the sweet light of the morning,
and of the beautiful colors of the rainbow,
but that soul was far more beautiful.
She remembered the dazzling beams of the noonday sun,
but the light which beamed from that soul
was far brighter.
She thought of the pure whiteness of the lily
and of the fresh snow,
but that is only an earthly whiteness.
The soul which she had seen
was bright with the whiteness of Heaven,
such as there is not to be found on earth.
“My father,” she answered,
“I cannot find anything in this world
that can give you the smallest idea
of what I have seen.
Oh! if you could but see the beauty
of a soul in the state of grace,
you would sacrifice your life a hundred times
for its salvation!
No, nothing in this world can bear any resemblance to it.
I asked the angel who was with me,” she continued,
“what had made that soul so beautiful,
and he answered me:
It is the image and likeness of God in that soul,
and the Divine Grace which made it so beautiful.
The Catechism In Examples, Vol. 4

That’s our destiny.
It’s worth the cost!