Saturday, January 7, 2012

The struggle to be transformed

The first Saturday of 2012. I am happy to report that we had a nice snow storm overnight, which was a relief because for the past week or so it has been sunny and in the 50s. To have a warm spell in winter here in Utah is not all that unusual, as people who have lived for awhile know. Once in awhile we have entire winters that bring very little snow and that remain quite mild temperature-wise. The previous three winters have been, well, very wintry, that is, cold with generous portions of snow. So, our very dry December was disappointing to a lot of people. Looking out my window this morning is a thing of beauty, a landscape transformed!

Transformation, conversion, change. These things are on almost everyone's minds at the beginning of a new year. However, as we come to the end of the first week, my bet is that all of these renewed commitments are already beginning to wane for many people. We are changed through experience and no other way. Otherwise, what would it mean and why would it matter?

In Chapter 13 of The Religious Sense, Msgr. Giussani, after seeing in Ulysses as portrayed by Dante, especially his "daring to go beyond the Pillars of Hercules," which Giussani interprets as the "extreme limit erected by false wisdom" that seeks to provide us a false and so "oppressive security," points to an "even greater" text: Genesis 32:23-33. This is the story of Jacob's return from exile and his wrestling all night with the angel before crossing the river. At the end of the wrestling match, the angel says to Jacob, "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed" (verse 28).

Referring to Jacob's all-night wrestling match, Don Gius wrote, "This is is the stature of the human being in Judeo-Christian revelation. Life, the human being is a struggle, that is to say a tension, a relation 'in darkness' with the beyond; a struggle without seeing the face of the other." In my experience, Giussani's insistence that the person "who realizes this about himself goes among others as lame, singled out" is correct. Our encounter leaves us "marked." Because I know the resolution of many in this new year is to pray more, as you endeavor to keep this resolution, it is helpful to know that prayer is often, perhaps usually, a struggle.


  1. And as Flannery O'Connor recounted as told to her by a woman she met in an elevator, "The lame shall enter in first..."

  2. A struggle with the external, visible Demons...
    And a struggle with the Internal, disguised, deceitful, nameless, faceless Demons...


Heeding the most important call of all

Readings: Amos 7:12-15; Ps 8:9-14; Eph 1:3-14; Mark 6:7-13 Like Amos in our first reading, "the Twelve," as the inspired author...