Sunday, June 30, 2013

Let Man Not Divide

The secret to love is not the falling in love... but the rising. The former is easy and takes little effort. The latter requires the act of will, a "Yes" to mean "Yes" and a "No" to mean "No." The first is easier to counterfeit; the last near impossible to fake. We are lost in the feeling of falling when in reality we were already fallen but raised by Christ. So if it is to be falling, make sure to rise with the morning. Love awaits.

Fidelity is more than saying "yes" to the One; it is saying "no" to everything that is not of the One. This is the secret of Christian marriage in its mirroring of the marriage between God and Man. It is a dying to self and a gift that, from the outside, is incomprehensible but, from the heart of it all, is worth dying for. It is the fait accompli of life... It is reason to offer sacrifice. It is the fatal attraction that unsticks heart from hand and allows the new life of communion as One.

At the same moment it validates the complementary nature of the two different worlds and invalidates every other attempt to merge two worlds too similar for the sacrificial self. Love requires this sacrifice in order to be complete, and Love requires this sacrifice in order to be more than simply a feeling but an honest, sincere act of will to love without end.

Love requires this authentic act of self to remain in fidelity until the end of the bond, one being in the temporal life which ultimately must point to the other one: the Eternal.

Love requires nothing less than everything. Let man not divide. No decision otherwise, whether civil or social, can divide what God has joined together. Amen.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

I Believe in Love: "Ti Voglio Bene"

In everything seek the Lord. Have I? This is, for me, the ever burning question. It is the one that leaves me up at night or up again very early in the morning, unable to fall back to sleep.

Hatred is a terrible sin that hardens the heart, but even greater a sin and more invidious is that of envy. If hatred can be called a sin of wishing ill of another or of destruction of what is good, then envy is the wholesale desire to possess a good inordinately for oneself, a spiritual gluttony that manifests far more easily and passes any censor or filter of the heart. It is not merely a shadow of worry but a constant danger lest we refuse to love as we ought in its proper time and place with the prudence that the heart knows. Envy breaks down the rule of compassion and foists up a ruler whose heart is possession and want. It has no place at Love's table.

So, I believe in Love. But do I believe in the totality of Love? It isn't enough to not have hatred, though this is a sort of proto-love. We must also "wish good unto others." Or as the Italians have a phrase: "ti voglio bene." It is a phrase that comes originally from Latin which means loosely, "I care so much of you that I wish the best for you," or more closely: "I want your good." It is among the many translations for the English, "I love you."

It is of little surprise they use these words for their Beloved. So must I.

So must I, as I read this past weekend's Gospel reading on Saturday: "Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one." (cf. Matthew 5:37) So must I, as I saw others do this weekend in speaking their vows and thus undertaking them, if not yet fully understanding what those vows fully mean. To take courage and say "yes" and truly mean it is far worth every "no" that is meant so as to have another ready to believe in Love and act forthrightly to live it and to "make good to the Lord all that you vow." (cf. Matthew 5:33, Psalm 50:14) So must we believe in Love. Amen.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

"But for the Grace of God Go I..."

Remembering that you are forgiven is a relieving truth. Even greater is the truth that you have that gift for others. Love is not lost in the loosing act of forgiveness but in the binding of the unforgiving act of a hard heart towards self and others. This is the most debilitating action one can choose; it is a failure to forgive, a détente of false peace when true peace is attainable and promptly accessible if one only acts. It is a failure of proper perspective and self-worth.

But for the grace of God go I... Grace because I could not persist in hope by my affliction alone. Hope because hope sees through the thin veneer of the present. Affliction because the present has not been made the future at once. Love because Love does not count the hours against the Beloved until the words are spoken: "Forgive us of our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."

Guard jealously the forgiveness you've been given. Do not let it be taken away willingly or in piecemeal to doubt or temptation. You have sought forgiveness, and it has been given to you. Do not let temptation hold its sway to the lies and its progenitor.

You have been washed in the Blood of the Lamb. Do not sully your bright white garment. Do not sin. His gift is greater than the temptation at hand to fall. Remain close to Him. His grace is sufficient.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Grace Abounds

When dealing with a life bereft with poisonous temptation, as though living in a foggy swamp of noxious fumes, let us not grow weary in prudent combat against despair and malady. This is our great boon. As St. Paul writes: "Where sin is, grace abounds all the more" (cf. Romans 5:20). So it is with us. Grace is not for those who are comfortable; it is for those who are afflicted, bereft, and in need. That is why "the last shall be first" (cf. Mark 10:31).

Grace abounds "all the more" because of need, not because we have earned anything! Our place is with the Lord, no matter if we are the Faithful Son or the Prodigal Son.

Remember this when worried about the appearances of others or oneself. It is better to seek after mercy for oneself or another than it is to be quicker to condemn than our Lord. To "settle on the way" (cf. Matthew 5:25) and, in haste, to return to Him is better than a thousand days of doubt before our Lord. Forgiveness is not first in the judgement but in the asking, and it is in the judgement that, faithful to this command to love one another, we may see not only the grace of Holy Communion in this age, though beset with persecution (cf. Mark 10:30) and temptation to despair, but also Union with him in the Eternal Life to come with Him in the next.

Let us not grow hasty in our understanding of this sublime gift of grace and Holy Communion, and let us not delay in making our holy confession of guilt before Him. Let us not deny His love or refuse to share it fully. This is our "sacrifice of praise" (cf. Psalm 50:23), that He might be glorified in His love for us. Take courage in His love.

"Offer to God praise as your sacrifice
and fulfill your vows to the Most High.
He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me;
and to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God."
- Psalm 50:14, 23

"O God, who provide gifts to be offered to your name
and count our oblation as signs
of our desire to serve you with devotion,
we ask of your mercy
that what you grant as the source of merit
may also help us to attain merit's reward.
Through Christ our Lord."
(Prayer over the Offerings, Tuesday of the Eighth Week of Ordinary Time)

So much surrounds these words above, which came to me after a weekend at Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston, "the First Week After Pentecost" (in older usage) or, in the more commonplace, the Eighth Week of Ordinary Time. The Responsorial Psalm of daily Mass that Tuesday was that of a frequently used phrase in the the Anglican Use of the Roman Rite, which speaks of vows and devotion. It is used at the end of the period of announcements and blessings (especially birthdays and wedding anniversaries). It speaks so beautifully to the wedding feast that is just then about to commence... that wedding feast where, so beautifully, grace abounds.