Oh Lord, purify me, make me a chalice in which you dwell, offer your sacrifice in me and spread your love through me. Let me shine like gold, adorn me with the jewels of virtue that I may always be open to you. Fill me. Overflow me. Let me be like that most perfect vessel, the Singular Vessel of Devotion, She to whom I cry for protection against the Evil One. I ask this for your glory, for the vessel is nothing without the sustenance inside, the cup nothing unless it is filled. Oh Lord, purify me.

Give me a word, Abba

Thursday, September 15, 2011

l'Udienza Generale

Yes, I did.

It's actually very easy. You just have to get up in the morning, shower, eat something and head over to the Vatican. You can, if this is your first time there, symbolically touch the Bernini Colonnade for the first time. You will most likely be confused, and if you speak no Italian, all is lost. Fortunately for me, I speak a little Italian. There are numerous lines all over the place and although it's free, you have to get a ticket. Or do you? I never found out and I don't think I ever showed it to anyone. The guard that I talked to (the third one) who finally gave me a ticket was surprised that I was going alone. Well, these things must be done occasionally, right?

The Audience itself was a mixture between a prayer, a lecture, and World Youth Day. (Meaning, I suppose, that WYD with Benedict is a little like his Audiences.)

The prayer part was that Psalm 22 was read in 7 languages. Italian, French, English, Spanish, German, Portuguese, and Polish. The World Youth Day bit was when all the different groups were called on by their language representative. I was not called on. If I had been, I would have shrieked because every time anyone made any noise, the HF would point to them. I'm sure this made them happy. It even made me happy.

The Holy Father gave a reflection during each of the language sections. As far as I could tell, they were slightly different from one another, but I'm no language expert. Here is the reflection in English:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Today we reflect on Psalm Twenty-two, a heartfelt prayer of lamentation from one who feels abandoned by God. Surrounded by enemies who are persecuting him, the psalmist cries out by day and by night for help, and yet God seems to remain silent. In the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, the opening line of this psalm is placed on the lips of Jesus as he calls upon the Father from the Cross. He too seems to have been abandoned to a cruel fate, while his enemies mock him, attacking him like ravenous and roaring lions, dividing his clothing among them as if he were already dead. The psalmist recalls how, in the past, the people of Israel called trustingly upon the Lord in times of trial, and he answered their prayer. He remembers the tenderness with which the Lord cared for him personally in his earlier life, as a child in his mother’s womb, as an infant in his mother’s arms, and yet now God seems strangely distant. Despite such adverse circumstances, though, the psalmist’s faith and trust in the Lord remains. The psalm ends on a note of confidence, as God’s name is praised before all the nations. The shadow of the Cross gives way to the bright hope of the Resurrection. We too, when we call upon him in times of trial, must place our trust in the God who brings salvation, who conquers death with the gift of eternal life.

* * * I am pleased to welcome the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including the groups from Great Britain, Scandinavia, Asia and North America. I extend a special greeting to the delegates of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services and to the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums. Upon all of you, and upon your families and loved ones, I invoke God’s abundant blessings.

The pope certainly has a way with words. I especially like, as did the people at the Vatican News Portal, the phrase "The shadow of the Cross gives way to the bright hope of the Resurrection." It reminds me of the Switchfoot song "The Shadow Proves the Sunshine."

What I would like to reflect on is the point about distance and silence. God sometimes seems distant. I would like to ponder more deeply the meaning of God as "other", but that will have to be put on the back burner. Suffice it to say, I think God as "other" has a lot to do with this. Our separation from God is only possible because He loved us enough to make us distinct from Himself. Because of the Fall (which was also possible because of this distinction), the separation or "otherness" of God is greatly increased and can hurt. In fact, it often does. There are times when we separate ourselves from God through sin, but that is not what I think is going on in Psalm 22 or in a lot of peoples' "Dark Night of the Soul". God sometimes seems to be distant and silent even when we are screaming prayers to him. When I was thinking about this, I came up with an analogy that might be helpful.

When a child is screaming about something he wants, the parents have a couple options. They can argue with the child and try to convince them that what they need is different from what they want. They can pick up the child and take him up to his room (or just tell him to go there) or the parents can just wait until the child has settled down. In the first option, the child will very often scream louder and want the thing more. The whole thing will be prolonged and everyone will get emotionally compromised and then nobody is responsible for their actions. The second option is perhaps a little more helpful and sometimes when God isn't seeming to listen to us, He seems to put us into new apparently less helpful situations. However, the child will often, when picked up, squirm like crazy and both the child and his parents will be subjected to the dangers of kicking feet and gravity. If God decides to move us to a different place in life and it seems like it is restricting, maybe he just sent us to our room for a time out, right? However, I think that God often chooses the third choice. You see, He has given us His Word and so we know what's up. When we shriek for his consolation, forgiveness, help etc., we know where to go for those things. Maybe it won't feel good, but we know it's there. He gave us the Sacraments for this express purpose: to give us His life, his forgiveness...even Himself! However, we often rage against Him because somehow it just isn't Right. And so he lets us rage and says nothing because when we have the sacraments and the Church at our disposal, when we have settled down, we will realize what we have.

In short, it seems like God is a good parent.

Well, I should hope so.

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