The first point I would like to cover, and I feel as if I am a broken record here speaking to a faceless audience, one I'm not even sure cares what I say or to another audience that sees these words as pure sorrow, is that I am somehow dejected in sorrow. As to that I must respond whole-heartedly, for it says in Romans 5:3-5:
Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.
Did you catch that? In our affliction. It results in proven character and proven character, hope. And hope (as we know) doesn't disappoint. Some might ask: "Why is there sorrow? Why is there pain?" And the simple answer is in sorrow we find ourselves. It is in adversity, in the unhappy times, that we can see what brings us to completion in the joyous times.
And so in this I have felt a great hope. It is in this testing by fire of one's commitments to the road ahead and to the love of God and creation that can become red-hot in nature and a reason for great affliction presented throughout our lives.
I shall state it here. I shall state it on the rooftops, on the streets, to anyone I meet. I am a man of emotion, yes. I find in emotion the greatest gift I can present and that is a set of feelings wrought hopefully not only in reality of the situation but in a future of possibility and of joy. I cannot go throughout this world simply reasoning things away, for me living is about loving. As St. Thomas More stated (and which I have already quoted before): "In the end it is not a matter of reason, it is a matter of love." To me this sums up life quintessentially. It should be our calling, our mantra, and our guiding rule of living. Just as much as the statement "Preach the Gospel at all times—if necessary use words" is a good one to follow, these words of St. Thomas More are not simply words but a call to action, to live not solely on reason but out of compassion for the world around us and for those in our lives and those who we have possibly ignored.
And yes, that can take a sappy connotation. It can be taken to be simply romantic fluff, emotional sappiness, or any other concoctions of placement. But it is none of those things. If we truly love, if we truly care for those around us, it doesn't become emotional sappiness or romantic sweet-nothings spoken silently to a loved one. It becomes real and true change in this world.
For in our broken human nature, we center ourselves around our own well-being, our own concerns, our own thoughts and wishes. It becomes solely "what's in it for me?" rather than "how does this affect the One I ought to care for?" Here's the danger, especially when one becomes possibly too attracted to the call for selfless love...having a disordered craving for intimacy. Yes, we all crave intimacy, but when it becomes a disordered demand for it, it hinders not only our relationship with God and ourselves but especially those near to us, to the one in our midst. These disordered cravings can become the calling card of a unbalanced relationship that leads to pain and to suffering. And then it comes a blaming game, either aloud or in one's heart.
The danger lies there...in words unspoken, in concerns unshared. It becomes almost a vain bitterness for a "wrong" done that was no "wrong" at all, merely a misunderstanding or like two ships passing in the night, so to speak.
And it is therein lies the crux of the problem for me: balancing reason with emotion. I can float back and forth quite quickly, maybe sometimes too much for those who know me. One cannot go through life simply on calculated reason. Human beings are not simply rational agents. We are people with emotions (hidden or exposed) and thought-processes that aren't the flawless things we try to make them out to be.
And so last Wednesday, the rains of justice fell. They washed away the misconceptions of my heart and started the process of peace once more and of removing conflict and pain.
Those words spoken to me by another were part of the cleansing process, just as much as the physical drops of rain that fell for those two hours. Those were the same words that were with me during Mass that evening, as the rains crescendoed during the Consecration, the same words I heard not just that person speak to me earlier that afternoon but Christ too speak to me during the Mass: "Do not be afraid to reach out with love." I cursed my affliction on Monday, and it was blessed on Wednesday—not by me, but by Christ himself. How could I curse this affliction of mine? Why should I be of so little faith when I've followed the Lord for so long and through so much? Why could I not let go of my selfish pride and thoughts at the time for a greater plan?
Father David's homily that day spoke of the curiousness of God's plan through salvation, as the Gospel reading was from Matthew 10 when Jesus chose His disciples, specifically on the reasons why He choose Judas Iscariot as one of the Twelve. Since He foreknew all things, why do something like that? It's sometimes through these most counter-intuitive plans that our personal redemption is brought to life. It's not that the road is simple that we are on it. It's because it's difficult to grasp that we continue on in learning and growth of understanding.
And so I see these events of not only the immediate past weeks but these years of confusion in my heart at various times as something of a grander plan that does make more sense. That this is helping me in my understanding how to fully give of myself, the pulling and pushing of the heart I've been reminded of lately.
This doesn't by itself take away the feelings of uneasiness in reaching out. It merely allows for a greater confidence in the One who sends me. That somehow, I will make it through the present afflictions.
I don't know if those whom I care for will always return the love I feel, but if it is a selfless one, I must learn to give and not receive at times. If it is selfless then I must realize my hope is not in the human existence but in the Divine. I must throw down any idols I might have created in the process of trying to find a holy love of purity and chastity, no matter the most honest of intentions, and plow a new field. As the Lord says in Hosea 10:12, the closing to the first reading from last Wednesday:
“Sow for yourselves justice,
reap the fruit of piety;
break up for yourselves a new field,
for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain down justice upon you.”
It is in the insecurity of my heart that I seek consolation, that I seek the Other in my life. I know not who She is, but it is She whom I seek. No eloquence of words can measure the confusion of heart in which I place myself here this time and many times before and surely many times to come. Some days I curse the writings I have done, and other times I bless them saying to myself it is a gift I shouldn't hide. And so I oscillate. It becomes a source of consolation and one of desolation. But if I did not say this to you, my dear reader, then I would be lying not only to you but myself.
I doubt myself too much, and quite apparently it shows. It seems as though I am damaged goods to some. So be it. If these words and past words shall incriminate me to the ends of the earth for being a sentimental bloke, then so be it. If these words shall call me a fool, then so be it. I'd rather be a fool for Christ in all of my warts than a person of self-wallowing glory or a liar in denial who is apart from Him. That is how I see these words exposed. For it is a call into the Night.
And so I say to those whom I love: love me with a love that is neither cold nor luke-warm but with one that is hot, as hot as the sun of day. Love me and I will love you in return!
It is my hope and my fullest intention to live this day and every day forward with a continually renewed love, reigned by clarity of heart, of mind, and of soul. For even if affliction shall bear down, the rains of justice shall prevail. The cross shall bear all sorrows. And so I pick up my own cross and carry on.
My heart shall not be silenced nor my willingness to reach out once more to you, whomever you are, in the wide world of ours. Peace be with you.