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

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Fearful and Overjoyed

I haven't blogged for a while here, not to mention anywhere else. Suffice it to say, my final semester at the University of Notre Dame has been filled with all sorts of things which prevented me for one reason or another from writing on what I have wanted to. Lots of fear, lots of joy. The paradoxes of life bring with them a lot of uncertainty. They wouldn't be very good paradoxes if they didn't. A life without apparent contradictions is a life giving into entropy, a necessarily apathetic, nihilistic existence. Flatlining is death. It is only in the ups and downs that we can see the life within us.

My experience is no different from that of any other Christian who stumbles after the cross to Calvary. Every period of our lives is a microcosm of the life of Christ: The brightness of a star, the excitement of new beginnings, the obscurity, the hard work, the miracles, the friends, the loss of friends, the suffering, even the death of a bit of ourselves...and a resurrection. The whole process starts over again as we are reborn again (forgive the redundancy.) Yet, though we live the life of Christ, we do so imperfectly and often live like his apostles did. We are the ones who abandon our friends, overcome by the fear which suppresses for a time our hope, our joy, our love. And when our fear is greatest, we hide in our apathy, we turn in on ourselves. Our "door being closed" (cf. John 20:25), we do not expect our King to find us. We may not even want him to find us. But we have an insistent King and he breaks through even our hardest hearts.

This reality is not one we always deal with well. The women who first heard the news of the Resurrection were fearful and overjoyed. Is it too much to hope that Christ returns to us again in the flesh? We are scared that it is not true, for how could it be true? How is death overcome? How is sin abolished? The Flatline seems to be the consistent reality. Betrayal is real in our lives as it was in Christ's. Our friends mess up, leave us, forget us, confuse us. Our Church struggles to continue its mission being crippled by scandal and the strong wave of secularism and modernism that has left it still reeling. When we grow up, we see our parents as the fallible human beings they are. We have something in common with them, they are no longer the strong distant authority that compels us to follow. So it is with the Church. As we grow up, we see our Mother the Church in all her sinfulness, all her confusion, all her ugliness. Her very clear truths are obscured by her members words and actions. Some, seeing this, leave her disillusioned. Hope is lost. The paradox is too much.

And yet, how can we account for the potent soul-socking presence of Christ in our lives? How can we account for the smell of lilacs, the strains of a solo cello arpeggiating the image of the Creator's love? The taste of wine, the majestic order of an architectural wonder, a reflection in stone of the heavenly Jerusalem? The laughter of friends, the wind over the lake, the shared moments of joy, sadness, contentment?

How can we account for the fact that Christ asks us to come and have a personal audience with him every week? The King IN THE FLESH invites us to his palace, to speak with him, to listen to his wisdom, to feast with him, to love him.

It is too powerful an idea for us to believe, and fear fills our hearts. But we must go back again and again to confirm our joy. And week in, week out, Christ comes through our locked doors and establishes the reality and calls us to overcome our fear with his joy.

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