Posted tagged ‘beautiful’

It’s Not Me

March 16, 2013

In every block of marble I see a statue
as plain as though it stood before me,
shaped and perfect in attitude and action.
I have only to hew away the rough walls
that imprison the lovely apparition
to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.
~Michelangelo

Awakening Slave

I’m imprisoned in my own block of marble
in much that is not me,
in thoughts and vices, desires and habits
foreign
to the saint God is making
of me.

It can be hard to tell the difference.
I’m attached to what is not me.
It feels like me.
The process of chiseling away what doesn’t belong
is painful
and slow.

I’m tempted to say,
“Oh, that’s just the way I am.”
But that would be to leave myself imprisoned,
forever unfulfilled.

God sees me.
He sees the lovely apparition
imprisoned
in unloveliness.
He is hewing away
the rough walls
to reveal to others
what He sees.

But unlike Michelangelo’s statue,
I participate in the process.

I can resist
or cooperate.

As reactions rise unbidden within me,
thoughts,
desires,
aversions,
protests,
I’m learning to ask,
“Is that me?”

Is that thought, desire, aversion, protest
worthy
of St. Me?
Is that the glorious masterpiece
God is creating me to be?

Or is it just so familiar
that it feels like me?

Would God say,
“Oh, that’s you!”
Or would He quizzically remark,
“That’s not like you!”

I’m learning to let the chisel fall
when it’s not me.

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!


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