IV: Jesus meets His Mother

From the midst of a sea of angry, fearful faces, the Mother appears, her eyes tender, vulnerable, and heartbroken. “I’m here,” she says; nothing more is needed. What else could we ask of a mother’s heart? Jesus meets one heart in solidarity with His own, and it is enough. He studies her face: This face I will carry with Me all the way to Golgotha. Her loving face is the certain sign of My victory, the sure evidence that truly I will make all things new, that I will take stony hearts and make them hearts of flesh. In her face, I see this promise: the redemption of humanity.

Love means being dependent on something that perhaps can be taken away from me, and it therefore introduces a huge risk of suffering into my life. Hence the express or tacit refusal: Before having constantly to bear this risk, before seeing my self-determination limited, before coming to depend on something I can’t control so that I can suddenly plunge into nothingness, I would rather not have love. Whereas the decision that comes from Christ is another: Yes to love, for it alone, precisely with the risk of suffering and the risk of losing oneself, brings man to himself and makes him what he should be…. I think that that is really the true drama of history.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Salt of the Earth

IX: Jesus falls the third time

Jesus suffers another fall. In His eyes, it is not cause for despair, but only another invitation to heroic love, to a rising above the situation. Love does not stop to measure or complain, but presses on to fulfillment.

That voice you hear within you: ‘What a heavy yoke you have freely taken upon yourself!’ … is the voice of the devil; the heavy burden… of your pride.
Ask our Lord for humility, and you too will understand those words of Jesus, which I like to translate freely, as follows: ‘my yoke is freedom, my yoke is love, my yoke is unity, my yoke is life, my yoke is fruitfulness.’

Saint Josemaria Escriva, The Way of the Cross

a conversation with Kale

I’ve just released a podcast episode with a friend of mine, Kale Zelden, in which we have a conversation about a broad range of topics: the self-conscious church; distinctive garb and priestly identity; the church as an expert in humanity; the naked public square and moral unbelievers; self-exploitation, social media and grifters; the institutional and the charismatic; the long wait for renewal; and Catholic identity and liturgy.

being released

large-wave-capsize-boat2020 brought many changes in the world… a good deal of upset and the unveiling of many things. 2019 was like a rehearsal for me, on a personal scale.

I posted this song by Carrie Newcomer on January 1st, as my prayer for 2020. I think I chose well, in ways I could never anticipate.

May you bless the place you live,
And bless the spot you fell,
And let go of hidden stories
Too dangerous to tell.
Let there be no stones to throw,
And someone to watch your back,
And some prayers be never answered
For the things we think we lack.

May we be released;
May we be held dear.
May we listen to the wisdom
That we didn’t want to hear.
May we be released.
May we….

May you leave and walk away,
Kick the dust and shout unfair.
May we finally stop and think
Of the blame that we both share.
When you stand in gale force winds
And home a passing thought,
When the truth catches your eye
May you have the grace to stop.

May we be released;
May we be held dear.
May we listen to the wisdom
That we didn’t want to hear.
May we be released.
May we….

May you get fed up and finish
Old obsessions past their prime.
May you find the silent center
And leave all undone behind.
May there be bread and honey.
May somebody love your flaws,
Give a stranger your umbrella
And love a grateful dog.

May we be released;
May we be held dear.
May we listen to the wisdom
That we didn’t want to hear.
May we be released.
May we….

May we finally see
May we finally hear
All the perfect lies
That kept us here.
And all the skills we learned
Just to keep us whole
Be thanked for what they were
And finally let go.

May the unseen world be present
Invoked into your life.
May you have the strength to question
All the things you thought were right.
May you sense the light around
The very old and very young.
May you go ahead and quit
What you should never have begun.

May we be released;
May we be held dear.
May we listen to the wisdom
That we didn’t want to hear.
May we be released.
May we.

May We Be Released, from the album Everything is Everywhere

the value of trials

Authenticity: A Biblical Theology of DiscernmentSin obscures. So does selfishness. The cross purifies. All of us ordinary mortals are wounded, immersed in our own darkness. A healthy self-denial sensibly practiced and rightly motivated slowly lifts one out of his egoism, laziness, hedonistic inclinations. We are fitted to receive the clean light of the Spirit.

The saints invariably possessed a remarkable wisdom. Even the most simple of them were gifted with a penetration into reality and into the God of all reality that books and studies cannot produce. This penetrating gaze into the real was made possible by their prior purification. This must be at least part of the meaning of that mysterious saying of St. John of the Cross: “The purest suffering produces the purest understanding.” In another place the saint amplifies this idea when he remarks that “the purest suffering brings with it the purest and most intimate knowing, and consequently the purest and highest joy, because it is a knowing from further within.” One who lives the paschal mystery, life through death, lives more and more deeply and thus will see more and more penetratingly. Authenticity is begotten on the cross.

Suffering reduces us to our own ashes; it strips away egoism and makes love possible. A Scripture commentator can remark that “to be a ‘tried’ Christian or to experience the Spirit is one and the same. Trial disposes to a greater gift of the Spirit, for He now achieves by trial His work of liberation. Thus freed, the tried Christian knows how to discern, verify, ‘try’ everything.”

If adaptation to the modern world has actually meant settling for a more comfortable life, a rejection of the hard road and the narrow gate, it is no renewal at all. If updating in a religious congregation has consisted largely of mitigations, we have a clear sign of resistance to the Spirit of the living God. If the renewal of moral theology consistently means more pleasure and less sacrifice, it is no updating at all. It is a surrender to the world.

from Authenticity: A Biblical Theology of Discernment by Fr. Thomas Dubay, S.M., “Moral Behavior: Cross-Asceticism”