Posted tagged ‘glory’

Saint “Enemy”

April 18, 2013

Saints are my heroes
and–praise God!–
my friends.
Their lives radiate
who I long to be…
and what God has said He wants
for me.

God does not will
the mess we have made of ourselves.
He thirsts for our restoration
(with our participation).
He’s giving us time
to turn our lives around:

The Lord does not delay His promise, as some imagine,
but deals patiently for your sake,
not willing that any should perish,
but that all should return to penance
~II Peter 3:9

He wants us safe
in the truth that sets us free (John 8:32):

For this is good and acceptable
in the sight of God our Saviour,
Who will have all men to be saved,
and come to the knowledge of the truth
~I Timothy 2:3-4

More,
He desires our holiness, our glory,
the splendor of righteousness!

For this is the will of God,
your sanctification
~I Thessalonians 4:3

The just shall shine like the sun
in the Kingdom of the Father
~Matthew 13:43

But we all, with unveiled face,
beholding the glory of the Lord
are being transformed
from glory to glory
by the Spirit of the Lord
~II Corinthians 3:18

The glory of God is man fully alive,
but the life of man is the contemplation of God.
For if the manifestation of God
which is made by means of the creation,
affords life to all living in the earth,
much more does that revelation of the Father
which comes through the Word,
give life to those who see God.
~St. Irenaeus of Lyons (Against Heresies, IV, 20, 7: PG 7, 105)

As we become who we are,
we glorify the Lord
Who glorifies us!

…but God doesn’t just want this for me.
He wants it for every man, woman and child He’s ever created…
including the people
who try my patience,
get on my nerves,
frighten me.
That doesn’t mean they’re not saint material!
Saul (greatest persecutor of the Early Church)
became St. Paul (see Acts 9).
St. Paul & St. Barnabas had a falling-out over John-Mark
(Acts 16:37-39).
The list goes on.

It is a serious thing
to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses,
to remember that the dullest, most uninteresting person
you talk to
may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now,
you would be strongly tempted to worship,
or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet,
if at all, only in a nightmare.
All day long we are, in some degree
helping each other to one or the other of these destinations.
It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities,
it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them,
that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another,
all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.
There are no ordinary people.
You have never talked to a mere mortal.
Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations
– These are mortal, and their life is to ours
as the life of a gnat.
But it is immortals
whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit –
immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.
― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

And since God is eternal,
what will be
(in my time-limited experience)
already IS
for Him.
He doesn’t have to wait.
He can name His own
now
according to their final destiny.
He knew Saul as St. Paul
from the foundation of the world.
He knows my “enemies”
(and those I’m tempted to look down on for any reason)
for the glorious saints He created them to be.

I tried it on for size,
putting “saint”
in front of the names
of people I know–
myself, for starters
(I’m responsible for my own sainthood first!),
then the easier ones,
working up to the names that make me wince.

St. N., St. N., St. N…

Let it be, dear Lord.
And may the way I think of
and treat these people
help them to become
the glorious, winsome, inspirational saints
You created them to be!

God’s Idea of Glory

January 31, 2012

When, therefore [Judas] was gone out,
Jesus said; Now is the Son of man glorified:
and God is glorified in Him
-John 13:31

I’ve heard the Gospel of John divided into
“The Book of Signs” (the first 12 chapters)
and “The Book of Glory” (the rest of the Gospel),
but never really grasped what that meant.
Signs, yes, I can see the miracles qualifying, but glory?
Those chapters are all about Jesus’ humiliations.
Yet here Jesus is, as His betrayer goes off to set in motion
the most horrific crime in history,
saying that now He is glorified.
I’m missing something…

As I reflected, Psalm 19:4-5 came to mind:

He has set a tent for the sun,
which comes forth like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and rejoices like a champion to run the race

An athlete is not glorified by lounging on the couch,
but by meeting a challenge that’s worthy of him.
He rejoices to run the race,
to meet the test for which he has prepared and trained.

Then I thought of our new blender.
It’s advertised in a series of videos that demonstrate
that this blender can handle things no ordinary blender can.
It’s glorified by being put to the test…
and coming out on top.

That’s how God the Father glorified His Son.
He put Jesus to the test,
subjecting Him to injustices and sufferings
no ordinary man could handle
without either crumbling or lashing out–
without losing his God-given dignity.
Yet through it all, Jesus was fully Himself
(how many times do we have to say, “I’m just not myself today”):
responding, not reacting–repaying evil with good, loving,
giving, fully human to the end.

We who have been made partakers in His divine nature (see II Peter 1:4) can expect to be glorified in the same way.
The martyrs were.
Their stories boggle the mind!…
but that’s what Jesus came to do for us:
to give us the ability to live a supernatural life
by uniting us to Himself (see Galatians 2:20, among others).
That doesn’t just happen.
It takes training and preparation,
just as it does for an athlete preparing for a race.

In God’s eyes, glory is not in fame or fortune or worldly success.
Those things are spiritually very dangerous (just ask King Solomon!).
Glory is in remaining faithful and generous under pressure
through the power of His divine life, vibrant within us,
which we have trained and honed
through the practise of a devout life,
through prayer, study, sacrifice and the sacraments.

The next time you have a bad day, hold your head up.
Be encouraged.
God is glorifying you!

Overdose of Glory?

July 12, 2011

I built a model of the Old Testament Tabernacle recently. Every time I give the RCIA presentation on the Exodus I wish I had one & this year I found a printable that made it feasible.

(The covering needs help, but there’s only so much I can do with printer paper)


I tweaked a few things & made my own version of the ark of the covenant (complete with flowers, leaves & ripe almonds on Aaron’s rod!).

Passages I usually skim came to life before my eyes. It was striking just how many things lined up with the way we worship today, with special vestments for priests, water for purification before worship (holy water fonts, Father washing his hands before consecrating the Eucharist), the veiled Tabernacle where God was present to His people with the lamp burning constantly before it–and the showbread, most holy to the Lord (another foreshadowing of the Eucharist), etc.

That experience was on my mind as we prayed before the Tabernacle after Mass. It made me appreciate just what a privilege it is to be so close to the Holy of Holies, unveiled (and that’s not even touching Holy Communion!!!). It brought to mind what happened when people in the Old Testament didn’t honor that separation, especially Uzziah touching the ark (2 Samuel 6). That juxtaposed with a bit I’ve been reading out of Mystical Body, Mystical Voice: Encountering Christ in the Words of the Mass, by Christopher Carstens & Douglas Martis (on the new translation of the Mass) about our need to learn the language of Heaven through the liturgy in order to be happy in Heaven. They quote John Henry Cardinal Newman:

Now is it not plain that those who are tired, and wearied, and made impatient by our sacred services below,
would most certainly get tired and wearied
with Heaven above?
Because there the Cherubim ‘rest not day and night,’
saying,’Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty.’
Such as this, too, will be the way of the Saints in glory,
for we are told that there will be
a great voice of much people saying,
Alleluia; and again they said, Alleluia;
and the four-and-twenty elders said Alleluia.
Such, too, was our Lord’s way,
when in His agony
He three times repeated the same words,
‘Thy will, not Mine, be done.’
It is the delight of all holy beings,
who stand around the Throne,
to use one and the same form of worship;
they are not tired,
it is ever new pleasure to them to say the words anew.
They are never tired;
but surely all those persons
would soon be tired of hearing them,
instead of taking part in their glorious chant,
who are wearied of Church now,
and seek for something more attractive and rousing.
(Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. 8, Sermon 1).

Mystical Body, Mystical Voice also references C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce, in which people from hell travel to the outskirts of Heaven, only to find that they’re not real enough to walk on the grass or to endure the drops of rain–the grass is like swords that go right through their ghostly feet & the raindrops like bullets that wound them.

Heaven is overwhelmingly glorious for those who are prepared for it–but not for those who aren’t (which is why God mercifully provided a place for those who don’t like Heaven).

The upshot was a question: what if the reason Uzziah died by touching the ark wasn’t because “God went after him,” but rather because he connected with Power beyond his ability to bear–like touching a downed power line? What if he died of an overdose of divine glory? And what if he ultimately went to Heaven?

Saints who’ve had ecstasies have said they would’ve died from such proximity to God if He hadn’t sustained them, and I’m reminded of
Bl. Imelda Lambertini who kept asking how anyone could receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and not die of happiness (and then she did–both–in a miraculous First Communion).

God is all-powerful. He makes an atomic bomb look like a lightning bug. People fell down terrified at encountering an angel, never mind God Almighty Himself. There are constructive ways to approach such power, but there are destructive ways too (I shudder to think of all the sacrilegious and careless Communions!). But since the God doesn’t often reveal the spiritual destruction in a physical way, we don’t notice–this side of the veil. He makes Himself SO available to us here!

Life here is our training for Heaven–not just to see if we can be “good enough” to squeak into a celestial amusement park, but rather a program of discipline in humility and caritas that will enable us to do the spiritual equivalent of running a triathelon with exhilaration instead of agony–to be radiant with the power of the Almighty instead of being fried by it–forever.

It gives a whole new dimension to the necessity of Purgatory!

God’s purpose is to build us up, to ennoble us, to make us real. He wants to empower us to stand before His glory in overflowing exuberance. Some things fulfill that purpose and some detract from it–and He knows better than we do which is which!

I want to be in on this training!

God’s Veil

February 4, 2011

The sun was in my eyes
as I walked to Mass/Adoration
this morning…
for the better part of a mile & a half.
Of course, since I’m not facing east when I leave the house,
I didn’t think to grab sunglasses until it was too late.

God had my attention…

…for a good long time!

If the sun, merely His creation and not even the brightest of His stars,
is so bright that I can’t bear to look at it, so bright that it hurts my eyes,
how much less would I be able to stand the full brilliance of His glory!

Yet I was on my way to spending hours in His Presence,
hours in the radiance of His glory.

I was reminded of Moses veiling his face after talking with God
because it shone so brightly that people couldn’t bear to look at him (Exodus 34:29-35, II Corinthians 3:7).

I thanked the God who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb
(cf. Lawrence Sterne),
Who humbles Himself so profoundly and veils His glory so powerfully
that I can not only gaze upon Him,
but even receive Him, unite myself with Him,
without suffering so much as the discomfort I feel facing into His sun.

Ascension

May 13, 2010

Today, our great High Priest enters the sanctuary not made by hands, bearing with Him the only sacrifice worthy to be offered to the Most High (Hebrews 8:1-2). He pleads for me.

Today my Head is lifted up in glory.
Jesus, my Head (see Ephesians 5:26, Colossians 1:18), rises gloriously into Heaven to take His place at the right hand of God. He Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6) has opened a path for me, that where He is, I also may be (John 14:3).

“In Jesus Christ, our Lord and King,
we are already seated at Your right hand.”
-Psalm prayer for Psalm 110 from Sunday, Week I, Evening Prayer II of the Liturgy of the Hours

In Him (I Corinthians 12:27), I, too, am lifted into the heavens, seated at the right hand of the Most High, with my enemies placed beneath my feet (Acts 2:34-35).

“He has lifted up my head above my enemies.
I have gone around,
and have offered in His tabernacle
a sacrifice of jubilation:
I will sing, and recite a psalm to the Lord” -Psalm 27:6

It’s “the now and the not yet”, foretaste and fulfillment, especially in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass when I unite myself with the eternal sacrifice which Jesus offers in Heaven.

Blessed be Jesus in His most glorious Ascension!


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