Saturday, May 31, 2014

Beauty Magnified

Beauty without sacrifice isn't beauty. It's a cheap illusion. The beauty of a rose comes with thorns, with little pains and sorrows. Beauty isn't diminished with the thorns—it's magnified.

Beauty uncrucified is a love that is missing its crown of thorns. A love without thorns is a love without service. Without service, love is empty words reserved for a dust heap, branches to be pruned, and blossoms withered.

With each day let us give thanks for beauty crowned with sacrifice and find joy within beauty that is tested and found worthy of Him. We are loved.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Novelty: "Do It Again!"

Novelty eventually wears off. Why? The reasons are plentiful, but the response required is a rather simple one: renewal. We as people require renewal because it is hard-coded into our being; we may like routines—those comfortable grooves—if everything goes well. At the slightest setback we declare them ruts. There is a middle way—a Catholic way—that unites the two in a symbiotic relationship as two sides of the same coin of existence.

It is to treat everything as novelty and everything with a sense of wonderment and with a desire for renewal. G.K. Chesterton, whose birthday is today, speaks of it when he describes children and their exclamation "Do it again!" until the grown-up is nearly dead.

I think this very much God's approach to us and our days, never tiring. We too must rise and say to the morning "Do it again!" We may not always have the vigor in this life to make all things novelties, but God has made all things new. Therefore, we are called to renew and be renewed. This is our view into Eternity.

"Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we." - G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Vocation: Moving from Despair into Mercy

Coming to dwell upon a momentary despair, one of the minor ones that precipitate a temptation to fall into a selfish burst, a moment turned inward—the following comes to mind, as though inspiration breathed in and a cool answer to a heated breath of dismay:

If one is tempted to self or unpurposed love of self, make an act of love in opposite, a small sacrifice of love—a prayer, a thought, a physical act (if possible) according to the state in life and relation, especially for those in the budding of vocation. Make it a point to cut against the grain, to rouse the senses to cooperation under the same mission as the intellect that ascends to and accepts in word a faith towards such a state, that begins in proto-form the desire to say "I do" or be consecrated towards the Kingdom at hand but needs a small act or, if you will, "a kiss to build a dream on." Make an act of love in this direction and in such a concrete way, even if the Beloved sees not. Do this, and you will have placed a brick upon the structure, the abode of love that you are building for the Other. Brick by brick, even if the Beloved does not accept such a gift, builds the home in which the Father bestows and desires each to dwell within. It is then a structure, an abode of love. Festooned with the flowers that burst into bloom and then fade as youth does, this abode will not later fade. Rather, it will be strengthened by each sweet act of charity. The investment being made will then pay dividends, not for oneself alone but—as one holding everything in common—for the community of believers. In this end, that immutable crown of glory will be yours and, with it, a Communion given by the One who has given it all, even His dearly beloved Son.

This is why it is right to say: "Conversion is where obedience turns into love."

So it is in pursuit, in the Courtship of the Daughter of the King... So must a "yes" be in preparation, for love requires a soil prepared in due time if the fruits of love are to be those that remain. Without Him, we can do nothing.

"And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come back again and take you to myself,
so that where I am you also may be.
Where I am going you know the way." - John 14:3-4
These words strike me... they hold me in a great peace. What has He prepared? Much! And yet Thomas questions. It is enough to be with Him along the Way, peaceful with the great good given each in their own way. This is gratitude.

I am reminded of last Sunday morning, in preparation for Mass and entering into and serving in the Mass. Looking beyond my place towards the Altar—and this among other reasons is why I love 8 AM Mass so much—the light pierced through the east-facing windows before me with its light resting upon the chalice and purificator spent. It was for me, a profound and yet sublime example of love. It was love in the hidden—in the invisible made visible. That is what the Blessed Sacrament is. It is love spent for the good of the people, multiplied, and distributed. It is the wedding banquet, and my heart was glad.

It is in these moments I find great solace and remembrance of His love, "for his mercy endures forever." Not only this, I remember those whom I am so bound in prayer and affection that tears of joy are recalled. I pray even now not out of a desire of being seen—this is the warning of Christ about the locked room of prayer—but out of deep reverence for the love He has placed for me that I am called to give in turn in specific, tender ways. These are like wounds that are opened and then re-heal, only to open again. This is the nature of compassion and of self-gift and love.

It is an honor to serve in lectoring at Mass, especially regarding last Sunday's reading and the rejoinder by St. Peter to be like "living stones." The greater gift received is the mere opportunity to see the work of God at work in us and through us that the light shines through and shows through the darkness of our own hearts His marvelous love. Namely, it is itself the receiving of Him in the Eucharist. There can be no greater, no further complete union of God and Man other than on Judgement Day. We must avail of it often and never grow weary to our need for conversion before approaching. Yet, through it all, we remember that "his mercy endures forever."


Sunday, May 18, 2014

Let Us Give Thanks...

Conversion is a day by day experience, as I was reminded to me in a homily a week ago, and day by day I know more why I continue to return... With the eyes of faith I recall the words of Peter: "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God." (John 6:68-69)

But this isn't a begrudging answer or a return based on fear or weariness, even when I fail... It isn't as though it is a crutch. Why go to Mass then? Why return in community to the Eucharist?

Indeed, the Eucharist is having eyes for forever. It is the onward look towards Eternity, wrapped in a love deeper than the depths of the human heart. It is a Thanksgiving, rightly called so, because we do not earn it, but we are given it in our feebleness. It strengthens; it fortifies. It gives us new life... All because of HIS words... "I am the Bread of Life."

Let us "give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever!" -Psalm 107:1
Today I give thanks "for his mercy endures forever" (Psalm 107:1), and His beauty is ever before me, whether before me at home or in Rome.

The beauty I seek, that I yearn most deeply for, is before me always. It is his mercy that endures forever and my heart is glad, glad for a shepherd whose voice I hear from the ends of the earth to home. My heart is glad for Him Who Is and for the gifts of Him.

My heart is glad for the gift of love for ones that are His, and I pray I may recall this even when that love is tested and purified, most especially when all that I desire is before me at the Altar of Salvation, at the Table of His Great Love, at the Banquet of the Great Communion of His Love. May I place it all upon the altar with the unblemished gifts and the works of our hands—all of it!

He purifies because He loves, and He loves because He wants us, all of us, to have life more abundantly.

Let us love through Him. Though Him, With Him, In Him... Now and Forever. Amen.

—Sunrise from the Coast of Italy, May 2, 2014