Saturday, March 6, 2010

Cor ad cor loquitur

It has been a really Lent-like week, whatever that means! For me, it means that it has been a difficult week, an exhausting week. If we practice spiritual disciplines to get ourselves, that is, our egos out-of-the-way, then this week works great. I am crushed. When I get down (not in the funky way), I feel alone. I know that I am never alone and this comforts me. What comforts me even more is this being made manifest to me in concrete ways. Sure, Christ is very often present to me in and through other people, but not exclusively in this way. Sometimes, I think we take that too far. By taking that line of reasoning too far, I mean when we start to think that Christ is only present to us in and through other people. While I am grateful that I can acknowledge both, right now I am most grateful that I am aware of His presence apart from people.

Just because this is a spiritual insight does not mean that reason doesn't apply; reason still applies. To wit: other people let me down, disappoint me, and are not always there for me in the ways I need to them to be. Sometimes this is not a problem and is the result of unrealistic expectations and unhealthy attachments on my part. At other times, it is just another person's inability to read my mind, which is surely an impossible expectation! There are times when it is none of those things, when I am being neither unrealistic nor unreasonable. I don't just have needs, as Fr. Carrón said, I am a need! Here is where the judgment of reason comes in- if Jesus is only present to me in and through other people, then sometimes He disappoints me, lets me down and is indifferent to me.

I know the Lord is never indifferent towards me. He is always deeply concerned about me, about how I am doing, and cares for me in the way only He can. I know this through many experiences. I know this through what I am experiencing now and what I have been going through this past week, especially towards the end of the week. This is what I really mean by this week being Lent-like. All the Lenten paces I have been putting myself through are worth it to realize His presence, to get closer to Him. I am not merely being sentimental or wistful.

He accompanies me, which means He doesn't magically make everything better, but that He walks with me through it. He holds me up when I need it. He invites me to His table for nourishment, giving Himself to me body, blood, soul, and divinity, as well as absolving me of my sins. Could I really ask for anymore? Too often, as Rich Mullins sang, I'd rather fight Him for what I don't really want than take what He gives that I need. I am inclined to call this the beggar's exchange, in which I give Christ my heart and Christ gives me His very self, thus satisfying the need I am because if I possess Him, I possess everything! I don't share this to be smug. I am mindful of these words written by Camus: "Beginning to give yourself means condemning yourself to never giving enough even when you give everything. And you never give everything." These words are a fair summary of my struggles this week.

St. Justin Martyr, the first Christian philosopher, wrote: "He who once for all conquered death for us, now continually conquers in us." Moreover, He conquers our hearts with His tenderness.

Meum cum sim pulvis et cinis


  1. Thank you for sharing this. This resonates for me very strongly. For me, the struggle hasn't been so much in peaks as more of a strong relentless calling. I find myself surprised that I handle it all better, but it can only be that my certainty in Christ is growing in these challenges. The change happens. Yes, he gives me what I need. Bon courage!

  2. Your tendency to put so clearly into words what spins formlessly around my brain is a little unnerving at times. Yet, you always manage to take it to a level of faith I never seem to reach. "I never thought I'd come to this. What's it all about?" (Tim Rice/Andrew Lloyd Weber), sums up where I am at theologically more often than not. As always, thank you giving my thoughts a starting place... and an eventual goal.

  3. Thank you, Scott, for posting yet another thoughtful, well-formed provocation. Please bear with me as I literally fumble though some reflections.

    When I feel let down by others, or even attacked, where is my focus? Is Jesus contained within that one incident (being let down in a particular interaction with someone) and, more importantly, within my reaction to it at the time? Can there be a larger context upon which that particular interaction may have a purpose that is wholly consonant with His presence? Perhaps it is when He is most hidden in others that we are provoked to trust in His mercy and love, as expressed through our relationship with others, and not retreat to the God contained within.

  4. That is something to ponder. I don't doubt that what you write is true. I do not call into question the fact that He is present in and through other people. I just state that this is not the only way. I think this is important, at least for me right now.

    If nothing else, the times when I recognize others are not meeting my need (those from whom it is reasonable for me to have this expectation, which is not everybody) are occasions for me to turn to Him and not be angry or resentful towards the other. In fact, it is my recognition, this turning, that allows me to be present to them by not being angry, resentful, or dismissive. Indeed, the greatest sin I committed this week was getting angry for the reasons about which I wrote. I mean, I could easily feel and maybe even be justly upset and resentful. He is the One who tells me and then reassures me that it is alright to surrender that to Him, to offer it as sacrifice. You know what? It is damn hard and I failed. He is more here for me in my failure. This is the beauty that we can perceive only through exprience, only by turning to Him.


God's love for us is tireless

Readings: Jer 23:1-6; Ps 23:1-6; Eph 2:13-18; Mark 6:30-34 No doubt you've heard the saying, "There's no rest for the wicked...