Sunday, November 30, 2014

Traveling Our Way Home

There are a few things I dwell upon as we begin the Season of Advent. Much is still coming into focus, but on the trip back home this evening from visiting my family, I could sense the twilight of the past and the promise of future to come. It has made me very expectant for this December, and the reminders of the past—long trips to Texas to visit my extended family—a great joy from childhood. It was all triggered, oddly enough, from a faint familiar smell of driving through the Texas countryside... it was almost an earthy smell that within the instant connected me back to those childhood trips in the dead of night, traveling the way "home"... and family is always "home."

I have felt as though the explanation and the gift of remaining in Texas has come into distinct focus. There can be a false sense of nostalgia, distinct as one ages, but this shouldn't be confused with the cherishing of the past. No, the recollection of the past is for the benefit of the future, and even if everything cannot be recalled—nor should it in serious cases—the joy of the present is a future infused in the past, in tradition, and above all in a living with the past for the benefit of the future generations, such that, come what may, we may be able to pass on the joy of the Faith, of the truth, and ultimately the joy of life, replete with the everyday blessings we receive when traveling along the road of life with a song in our heart on our way to the town of Bethlehem and the infant child that awaits us.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Our Thanksgiving

If we are to eradicate loneliness, we must be willing to subject ourselves to the possibility that we will be lonely ourselves and to be better from the knowledge of it. This is obliquely fear of the Lord. It is not that we should seek out loneliness for ourselves but that we accept the lot laid out for us as our task. Eternal damnation is but eternal separation from a God who loves us deeper than we could comprehend. It is a casting of ourselves into the cold that we have found ourselves, not that God first willed damnation but communion first. Actions have consequences. The anecdote for us in the world fighting the pernicious disease of loneliness is in the Sacraments, and chief among them is the Holy Eucharist, which bears visible an invisible truth that all humans desire—Communion with one another and ultimately with God.

Our Thanksgiving begins by thanking the King who has given of Himself to tear down the walls of loneliness and despair and raise up a Kingdom that is in Communion with Him. We are charged to do the same for the least among us, for He is in them, and we must see Him in the Other and give of ourselves to be present to them. Our fate lies in the balance; we must recognize Him in the Other to avoid missing the slightest chance to serve the King. This disguise is subtle but the results are huge; we cannot expect Him to see us as part of His love if we do not offer every agony or pain experienced with the Other as a gift back to Him in the sublime solidarity of love. There isn't a chance for delay, and the world is in need of it.

Life is the fullest and the most beautiful not when we ask "What if?" to a world of endless possibilities and of failures of the past now made present. Rather, we should boldly ask: "Where are you, Lord?" We are then surprised by His immediacy, even in the failed attempts to find Him in everything we experience. Our God is not a god of the history books as though a mythological fable; He has written every word of it. Our God is not a god who remains in the past; He is a god who is very much alive. He is a god of the present, of the evolving, of the "what is to come." He is ultimately the God of the Apocalypse—the God of the Unveiling. He is with us now, guiding us to a future bright animated through and in and with Him!

God has placed in our hearts a greater joy than one we could possibly imagine or think of in our own dim view, but He does reveal this great joy to us in the Ordinary. These are the Sacraments. When we accept in our lives this animating joy given when we live a life for Him through those outward signs of the inner grace, we participate in the Divine Master's very existence, His work for the good of His people. These are the Sacraments of Service—Holy Orders and Holy Matrimony. Through these the life of the Church are renewed and strengthened. We, no matter our state or impediments, should not run from the Lord's desire to elevate these from the universal priesthood given through our Baptism in Christ Jesus. They are Sacraments for building up the Baptized and confirming them in the apostolic zeal that continues be handed down through that Missionary Mandate. They are critical in the same Mandate, and ever the more needed critical in a world that has forgotten the Sacraments.

In this light, we should run to Him, as He runs towards us and give thanks. For when I see this reality in its fullness of truth and its overwhelming catholicity, I see all that our Lord has promised—if not its timing—and my soul is overwhelmed with sincere joy. This is a Faith unshaken and a Hope secure in a Love that satisfies. May He be praised.

In all things, graciousness. When finding fault in another, find the reason which excuses the fault—silence of friendship. If you cannot find the gracious word, offer a silence befitting the joy you have been given which points toward all grace. Healing isn't about what is said; rather, it is about what isn't. Healing is chiefly about presence.

Credo et Accipio.