As It Could Have Been

 

walk-with-me-by-yongsung-kim-
Walk with Me, art by Yongsung Kim

 

In the Bible, it is primarily the books of Job, Lamentations, and Psalms that express the darker side of our journey to God. The bright side is perhaps best described in the Song of Songs.

The Song of Songs sings of the only essential thing in life for which we were created: Love. And it does so with spark, enthusiasm, and an irresistible faith in love. “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it” (Song 8:7).
This unparalleled poetry shows us how the world could have been had we not lost paradise. Love is enough in itself. For those who live in absolute love, few words are needed to talk about God. Innocence or sin are not treated. Love encompasses all, and neither questions nor answers are needed any longer.

This devoted and burning love points to the new fire which the new Adam has come to light on the earth (Lk 12:49). It is a prophecy of the jubilant love dance of the blessed at the wedding feast of the Lamb. It sings of the love between Christ and the Church, between Christ and every Christian. Such is the Christian life, such as it ought to be. The two who enjoy each other “among the lilies” (Song 2:16, 6:2) are the great Lover, God, and his beloved bride, humankind.

The Christian life has nothing to do with objectivity and cold duty. To the ones who enter into relationship with God, life becomes and adventure of love.

 
~ A Meditation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

 

 

“O night, that guided me! O night, sweeter than sunrise!
O night, that joined lover with Beloved! Lover transformed in Beloved!”
Saint John of the Cross, O.C.D.

 

 

 

God Alone Suffices

 

Icon 3
Icon of the Holy Trinity, by Paternitas 1855 (State Museum of Palekh Art)

 

Ultimately, there really is only one thing you unequivocally can ask God: that he be your all. There is no need to coach God as to how best he ought to fulfill your needs. God is all, and, when he gives himself, he gives you everything you need. If you possess God, there is nothing more for which you can ask.

The first part of the Lord’s Prayer is completely focused on God himself: hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done. Following that, you are free to ask for what you think you need, but these special petitions must always be rooted in surrender to—and longing for—God’s very self.

The closer you are to God, the more emphasis is on the first part of the Lord’s Prayer. The more you trust God, the less you are inclined to specify your prayers for the various needs you may have for yourself and others.

There is a restless concern that is not of God, a restlessness that comes from trying to carry the suffering of the world on your own shaky shoulders, rather than laying it in God’s hands.

The one who in surrender commends the world to God will continue to feel compassion for all who suffer. But it is a compassion that is held up by a deep peace rooted in the knowledge that God, who is almighty, loves everyone and can assimilate everything in his plan to save the world.

~ A Meditation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

Si Sabrá la Primavera Que La Estamos Esperando…

 

sheeps2
Photo credit to: Pawel Uchorczak

 

Aquí tenéis un precioso poema-oración de una de Carmelita Descalza de Antequera

 

Si sabrá la Primavera
que la estamos esperando…

Si se atreverá a cruzar
nuestros pueblos despoblados,
colgando en nuestros balcones
la magia de sus geranios.
Si dejará su sonrisa
esculpida en nuestros campos,
pintando nuestros jardines
de verde, de rojo y blanco.

Si sabrá la Primavera
que la estamos esperando…

Cuando llegue y no nos vea
ni en las calles ni en los barrios,
cuando no escuche en el parque
el paso de los ancianos,
o el bullicio siempre alegre
de los chiquillos jugando.
Si creerá que equivocó
la fecha del calendario,
la cita que desde siempre
la convoca el mes de Marzo.

Si sabrá la Primavera
que la estamos esperando…

Cuando estalle jubilosa
llenando de puntos blancos
los almendros, los ciruelos,
los jazmines, los naranjos,
y no vea que a la Virgen
la preparan para el Paso.
Que se ha guardado el incienso,
el trono, la cruz y el palio.
Y que Cristo, igual que todos,
está en su casa encerrado,
y no lo dejan salir
ni el Jueves ni el Viernes Santo…

¿Pensará la Primavera
que tal vez se ha equivocado?

¿Escuchará los lamentos
de quien se quedó en el paro,
de quien trabaja a deshoras
por ayudar a su hermano,
de aquél que expone su vida
en silencio y olvidado?
¿Escuchará cada noche
los vítores, los aplausos
que regalamos con gozo
al personal sanitario?

¿Pensará la Primavera
que tal vez se ha equivocado
y colgará sus colores
hasta la vuelta de un año?

Si sabrá la Primavera
que la estamos esperando…

Que se nos prohíbe el beso,
que está prohibido el abrazo;
el corazón, sangre y fuego,
el corazón desangrado.

Si sabrá la Primavera
que ya la estamos soñando…
Asomados al balcón
de la Esperanza, esperamos
como nunca, que ella vuelva
y nos regale el milagro
de ver florecer la vida
que hoy se nos va de las manos…

¡Bienvenida, Primavera!
Hueles a incienso y a ramos,
con tu traje de colores
y los cantos de tus pájaros.
Ven a pintar de azul-cielo
esta tierra que habitamos.

¿No sentís que en este mundo
algo nuevo está brotando?
Si será la Primavera
que está apresurando el paso.

~ Hermana Lucía, O.C.D.

God Is Not Angry!

 

Cross in a blizzard art by jozef chelmonski 1907
Art by Jozef Chelmonski (1907)

 

Our God is different than we think. We have all heard of a God who demands atonement, a God who is just and wants restitution for the injustice he has been suffering. But our God is not justice. Our God is love.

We don’t need to reconcile God to us. God is reconciliation itself. God has never turned his gaze from us. It is we who have turned away from him. God had been waiting for us all along. No, not only waited. . .God has run to meet us with such overwhelming proofs of his love that it ought not possible for us to close our eyes to them.

It is not for us to appease God’s anger. God is not angry with us. Love is not resentful (1 Cor 13:5). It is, rather, God who tries to calm humanity’s anger. But he hasn’t been able to, since humanity is still angry at God. Has there ever been a time like our own in which humanity has been so cruel toward God? God is accused as never before: “What kind of God is it that allows for so much evil?”

Much of this human revolt against God is in reality directed toward a caricature of God—a God who seeks to judge, a God who looks for the first opportunity to punish. Such a God is only to be feared or despised.

But a God who hangs defenselessly on a cross, and who—with arms outstretched in a worldwide embrace—tries to unite all people with himself and one another, such a God is not hard to love.

 
~ A Meditation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

 

 

My thoughts and prayers are with everyone at this trying and unprecedented times with COVID-19 Global Pandemic. . .
May God’s strength, healing and peace be with us all and the whole world!

 

Tend to the Seed of Faith in Your Heart

 

mustard seed art by jane n
Art by Jen Norton

 

Doubt and despair have their deepest roots in a fundamental distrust of God. It is quite often a long journey before a human being is truly convinced that God really wants the very best for him or her.

As long as your heart remains unconvinced that the one who has created  and sustains you, loves you and leads you, through whatever happens, you will not find lasting peace.

You have several resources with which you can help yourself toward a firm belief in love. You can try to confront your doubt by emphasizing trust and confidence; you can open your heart to receive testimony and preaching about God; most importantly, you can listen to God’s own word.

God’s preeminent message is that he is love. This message is in itself effective and active. If you listen to it openly, it will reach your innermost recesses.

Emotions of love will not reach the core of your being; only faith does that. The capacity for faith is like a small seed laid down in you. To some extent, it is up to you to decide whether weeds and drought are to suffocate the faith when it begins to sprout. You have within you an ability to turn your gaze toward God and turn yourself over to him with trust. Then the seed will flourish.

 
~ A Meditation by Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

All for God

 

Jesus The Forest Meeting by Amy McCutcheon
Art by Amy McCutcheon

 

Happy are your eyes because they see, your ears because they hear!
~ Matthew 13:16

 

We must resolve to put the whole of our sense life at God’s service. We must refuse to use our senses except when their exercise is for the honour and glory of God.

We can so easily presume that the whole bent of our being is to God, and fail to recognize how we allow ourselves dangerous distractions; how we allow ourselves to notice and nose into other people’s business; how we yield to useless curiosity, indulge ourselves in countless ways.

Hold up! Fix your eyes on the perfect Son. Hold yourself in your hands so that your activities are controlled, that you know what you are doing, and are not drifting by carelessly occupied with trifles, occupied with yourself.

Our whole way of life should be helping us to this true recollection, this concentration on God. Sustained discipline is absolutely essential if we are to belong to God.

‘Many prophets and holy men longed to see what you see and never saw it, to hear what your hear, and never heard it.’ Let’s weigh these words.

How utterly privileged we are to know Christ Jesus our Lord. How privileged to have access to his words, his thoughts . . . Do we really see this as an unheard of privilege?  We shall answer that question truthfully by looking at what we do. Are we always most seriously, with everything we have in us, trying to get to know him and trying to live according to his teaching?

. . . The torch is sweeping slowly round our room. Do we want to see the cobwebs? Do we want to remove them? Or do we allow our eyes to rest on them for a brief moment only, and then go on just as before.

 

~ A Meditation by Ruth Burrows, O.C.D.

 

Jesus, holy and beloved
hold me always in your ‘yes’.
Let nothing matter to me from this moment
but the Father’s good pleasure,
the coming of his kingdom.
Let me not matter to myself.
I have only one short life in which to love
in difficulty and pain,
trusting in the dark and non-seeming.
Opportunities come and pass forever,
never to return.
Let me not miss one,
let my life be lived in total love:

There is no other way of living a truly human life.
 

The Temptation to Shame Others

 

Sieger Köder2
Art by Fr. Sieger Köder

 

John 8: 31-42


Jesus tells the Jewish authorities that being a true descendant of Abraham comes not from physical ancestry but from doing the will of God.


 

Justin Martyr wrote that some Jews who lived during the time of Jesus believed that because they were “descendants of Abraham according to the flesh [they would] certainly share in the eternal kingdom, even though they be faithless sinners and disobedient to God’ (363). This may have been the reason, or one of the reasons why, when Jesus said that if they were slaves to sin then they had no “permanent place in the family,” the people in today’s gospel vehemently assert their descent from Abraham. It is worth noting that it was not his adversaries who lashed out at Jesus; rather, “those Jews who believed in him” did. Here we encounter a common dynamic of daily life, namely, how when we feel threatened our behavior toward others, even those who are close to us, can change in a moment.

Furthermore, today’s gospel sets before us the vindictive venom that we can spew on others when we are either threatened or angry. When Jesus says to his audience that they are not Abraham’s children, they fire back, “We are not illegitimate children!” This retort is retaliatory, for the original Greek contains the implication that “we are not illegitimate but you are.”

Because Mary had conceived out of wed-lock, Jesus was considered illegitimate. In Saint Mark’s gospel, for example, the people of Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth express their contempt of him by saying in derision, “Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary?” In the ancient world, a man was called by his mother’s name only if he were illegitimate. One rumor said at a Roman soldier named Panthera was the father of Jesus. The statement, “We are no illegitimate breed!” implies that the rumor of Jesus’ illegitimacy was public knowledge and followed him wherever he went.

Like those in today’s gospel, all of us are privy to the skeletons in other people’s closets. We are keenly aware of the vulnerabilities of others and know where they are susceptible to shame and how to make them feel inferior. When threatened or angry, we can be tempted to attack where others are easily hurt. How often, in a moment of anger, have we dredged up a person’s past and thrown it in his or her face? How often have we gone for the jugular because we felt defenseless? How often have we shamed someone to protect ourselves from being shamed?

 

~ A Meditation by Marc Foley, O.C.D.