Thursday, March 26, 2015

"Let me go boys"

Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent puts us on the threshold of Holy Week, which begins this Sunday with our celebration of Palm Sunday. At least for me, Lent is always a roller coaster. I am convinced that this is the Lord's way of showing me how mistaken I usually am about Him and His ways with me. That is a vague way of stating that, even after all these years, I can't seem to shake what I can only describe as my hyper-Pelagian upbringing, meaning, even more clearly, I can't earn His love or His approval because I always already have both. The backside, so to speak, of this realization is that I can't lose what He not only gives me so freely, one might even say He wants to give me desperately, which isn't life through Him, but life with Him and in Him, which is nothing less than to share in the life of the Blessed Trinity.

I am a firm believer, however, that it is perfectly possible to refuse what the Lord freely offers me. What He offers is nothing less than Himself. As a result, I can accept His offer of friendship or reject it. After all, love that is mandatory, as opposed to freely given, doesn't qualify as love. I try not to follow Jesus from the motivation that He will provide for me in terms of worldly well-being, comfort, or even necessarily re-assurance, but for Himself. He is not the means, but the end, my ultimate end.

Both of my long-time readers know about my great affinity for Albert Camus. L'Homme révolté (in English entitled The Rebel) is perhaps the most mature reflection of his philosophy. Camus' thought as expressed in his writing is far from systematic. Any philosophy in our age that seeks to be truthful and, at the same time, speak directly to life can't be systematic because, as experience shows us time and again, human life, my life, in a fragmented world, is not reducible to a formula.

Being a Christian is my metaphysical rebellion against the seeming absurdity of my own existence (Heidegger was wrong: Christians do not have the question, the why-ness, of being all figured out. Even on a Christian view, human existence remains mysterious).

What is the "cash" value of this? It is that if, in the end, this life is all there is and death is truly the end, Christianity should've been true and (despite there being a sense in which this makes no sense) I do not regret striving to live as a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth. If Christianity, as such, turns out to be mistaken about who Jesus of Nazareth is/was, it remains true that He really graced the earth and attempted to usher in the only true revolution in human history. This does not make me either a fideist, or an irrationalist, in the least. I affirm that there are very good reasons to both believe in the triune God and the Incarnation of second Person of the Most Holy Trinity. I simply like to think of myself as someone capable of defeasible reasoning, especially when it comes to matters that preclude certainty.

All of this is my lead-up to our Friday traditio, which is The Pogues' "If I Should Fall from Grace with God." Any fall from grace, which is simply what sin is, cannot be attributed to God, whose mercy endures forever, but only to me. The fruit of the Fifth (and final) of the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary (i.e., Christ's Crucifixion) is perseverance to the end, which, apart from the gift of faith, is the greatest grace of all. There is a reason, upon entering into His Passion, Jesus said to Peter, James, and John, who could not stay awake and keep watch with Him, "Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" (Mark 14:38).

It's coming up threes, boys
Keeps coming up threes, boys
Let them go down in the mud
Where the rivers all run dry

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