Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Weeping Outside the Empty Tomb With the Fullness of Easter Hope. By: C.C.

Early this morning a dear sister in Christ told me of her Grandmother's passing. I read today's Gospel reading and was moved to reflect on it. Though it is written primarily for her, I pray it too will comfort those in similar situations.Please join me in prayer for her and her family. (Today's Gospel reading precedes my reflection).
"Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping.And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there,one at the head and one at the feet where the Body of Jesus had been.And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”She said to them, “They have taken my Lord,and I don’t know where they laid him.”When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there,but did not know it was Jesus.Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?Whom are you looking for?”She thought it was the gardener and said to him,“Sir, if you carried him away,tell me where you laid him,and I will take him.”Jesus said to her, “Mary!”She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,”which means Teacher.
Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me,for I have not yet ascended to the Father.But go to my brothers and tell them,‘I am going to my Father and your Father,to my God and your God.’”Mary went and announced to the disciples,“I have seen the Lord," and then reported what he had told her." (John 20:11-18)

I often wonder what it would have been like to be there. To be standing beside Mary Magdalene,perhaps comforting her in her time of mourning. I would imagine trying to show through my presence and friendship that I could some how fathom the depth of her despair and sadness in thinking that Jesus, who saved her from herself and from her sins was gone. 
As if bearing the Crucifixion and knowing of His death wasn't enough, she now sat outside the empty tomb weeping for where her Lord could have gone. Unknown to her at that moment of course, is God's plan, already accomplished in the rising of His Son. She weeps outside the tomb, as we would also; arguably, as we do when a loved one has passed. We long to hold on to them, it is human to do so. Out of love we recall memories, we replay their presence in our lives, their words, their touch, that is to be no more. It brings us, and rightfully so, a degree of suffering,sadness and loss.

In some ways we can be so desperate to go where they have been taken, just so that we can be with them once again. And then, here in this Easter Octave, we read this Gospel message and see that the despair Mary felt in her heart, overcame her so much so that she did not see Jesus there before her, she did not see her risen Saviour. We are not told that she was kept from recognizing Jesus, as in the Scripture account of The road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35)...It can be suggested that in the depth of her despair and loss she had blinded herself to the hope and joy of the risen Lord. Yet, in His goodness He again calls her name and she knows Him; grasping her attention with the intimate speaking of her name that only the Lord could possibly know. 

Like Mary, we wait and weep outside of the tomb, but we, an Easter people, now know the joy of the risen Lord. We know the promise of Eternal Life and the place that is promised to us if we are to be obedient followers of Christ. “Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death” (Isaiah 57:2) We see an empty tomb out of despair, but we are called in our sadness to recognize Christ before us, within us, and beside us calmly calling our name, offering His consolation, through His Resurrection to the Heavenly Father.

To weep is natural. Jesus too wept for Lazarus. But let us not hold on to our loved ones so to keep ourselves in mourning and forget to pray for them, for the repose of their soul, for God's mercy on them so that they may be raised with our Lord to the joy of Eternal life. “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?"
Whom we seek most has indeed risen, and for this reason, even in our time of loss we can rejoice, and can hope in knowing Jesus Christ. Amen (CC)

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Humble Praise By: CC

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Matthew 23:12)
Where honour is due it must surely be given with motive for the glory of God. In this manner one maintains a sense of right ordered affection and praise to God for graces bestowed upon those seeking intimacy with Him. 

The risk of over an attentiveness to the person through whom God reveals Himself is the failure to acknowledge the shared lowliness of our humanity and the fruitful power belonging only to our Lord graciously shinning through surrendered souls. So often idolatry is fostered in this way. There is a fine line to walk, but it is set aright by keeping our gaze on things above. 

To make a god out of the vessels God uses is to miss the point of such witness entirely. There is nothing "great" about the persons through whom such graces are revealed, but rather it is the alarming opposite. It is through the humble recognition of human baseness and lowliness that the greatness of God is magnified. It is the greatness of their surrender we must admire most. Perhaps it is fitting that many remain unable to identify this point and fail to make the distinction. The proud will seek the man, the humble will seek and see the Lord more clearly.

Veneration is defined as "Honour paid to the saints who, by their intercession and example and in their possession of God, minister to human sanctification, helping the faithful grow in Christian virtue. Venerating the saints does not detract from the glory given to God, since whatever good they possess is a gift from his bounty. They reflect the divine perfections, and their supernatural qualities result from the graces Christ merited for them by the Cross. " (Catholic Culture

Though this definition speaks of venerating the saints, it is also important to consider these words as we encounter those touched by grace, or even for our own correction when we receive divine favour and consolation. If anything done, said, or thought of in the private of our minds for a moment detracts from the glory of God, or is seen to be merited, it should be dismissed at once. We must continually pray for a purity of intention in all of our labour done for the Lord. 

This concept becomes even more important in today's society with the prominence of social media and the various "New Evangelization" movements that place man before all in some regard to share the grace of God. If the following fostered is not for following the way of Christ's Cross then it is indeed misguided.

There are many people who fit under this umbrella of being dedicated to God's work. In our modern day the laity in a much larger capacity than ever, in my opinion, seem to hold many positions at the forefront of ministry..be it authors, speakers, youth ministers, faith formative councils etc. This has over time proven to be a great blessing and at others a horrifying curse within the Church. These roles, if not employed by people with humble reverence and hiddenness in Christ can promote misguided devotion and bring about great scandal. We must guard reverently the right ordered devotion to The Divine person, sitting at the Right hand of the Father giving thanks and praise to Him always as we know it to be right and Just. 

My original thought for this writing came from my own personal experience. Some years ago, during a time of great conversion in my life, simultaneously one of great turbulence and interior agony. I ventured to a monastery to seek silence and solitude with our Lord and ultimately to be corrected. I knew nothing of this place, very little of monastic life, and much less about the workings of the Holy Spirit to the magnitude and depth that has since been revealed. 

In the Confessional I met a very wise, reverent, and elderly monk. This man was quite serious in his nature and was not at all amused by my attempt at pleasant small talk. Omitting many details , that confession was one of the most monumental confessions I had ever experienced. I left from there changed, and albeit due to God's grace, there was undoubtedly something about this monk. I returned to the retreat house to then begin reading some random books upon the shelf. In what I read, I found this monk's name, and much more about him and his wisdom. Unbeknownst to me; both the immense influence of the one who wrote about this monk priest, and the divine graces clearly at work in his life. From that point forward encounters and conversations continued and in this exchange I saw before me the light of Christ and a humble vessel. 

Throughout time, I came to learn of another well known monk and author to whom this elderly monk I encountered had called a friend. I found myself much less intrigued about the man he knew and more about the Lord he knows, more about the primacy of Christ's presence in our midst and how the living out of obedient service to Him is life giving and fruitful. In no way am I trying to reduce  the immensity of influence this prominent man has had  to many conversions and positive occurrences, this influence  has simultaneously been employed and hijacked by those, often spiritually irresponsible, to foster division, and in turn reduces the immensity of surrender and the devotion of one in pursuit of life hidden in Christ.  The will that seeks only to know about one's humanity, their motives, and all things tangible is perhaps seemingly  easier to digest at times, but beyond this, it can be pursued in some ways to exploit God's grace and defend personal theologies and ideologies. It is a limited and finite approach towards pursuing the infinite. 

The vessels that Christ uses are not concrete passageways in themselves, they are but a ladder on our journey to ascend toward truth. A ladder that is undoubtedly broken, imperfect, and appropriately so, for this witness calls us away from them, calls us out of ourselves so to pursue the Divine Person, Jesus. Blessed are we when we see beyond man and recognize the light of Christ through them. If our gaze remains limited to our limitations we surely miss Christ among us, Christ walking with us as on the road to Emmaus.  

We rightly venerate the Saints in Heaven, as we seek on earth to become humble lowly servants of the Lord until we are Home with Him. Let our eyes be opened and our hearts be pure so that we may clearly see Christ among us reflected in those authentically possessed by God. (CC)