Thank God

Thank God our time is now, when wrong Comes up to face us everywhere, Never to leave us ’til we take The longest stride of soul man ever took. Affairs are now soul size. The enterprise is exploration into God.

Christopher Fry,”Sleep of Prisoners”

Thank God our time is now, when the sordid sexual sins of priests have been made public. When the incompetence of bishops is taken for granted. When corruption in the clergy on every level is no longer a surprise. When the lethargy of the laity is recognized as dereliction of duty. Thank God our time is now when wrong comes up to face us everywhere!

Why? Because these wrongs will never leave us ’til we take the longest stride of soul we ever took. We can no longer plead ignorance. Bishops can no longer sweep sins under the rug. Priests can no longer assume they are presumed to be good Catholics. The laity can no longer pass the buck. Thank God our time is now, never to leave us ’til we take the longest stride of soul the Church has taken since the Protestant Reformation.

Affairs are now soul size. Miniscule Catholicism is treason against the people of God. It is the betrayal of a sacred trust, of the mission every Christian has to bear witness to the world. We can no longer cower in the comfort of our cultural Catholicism. We can no longer say it is Christian to profess the creed, conform to the code, and plunk our bodies in the pews. Affairs are now soul size. The enterprise is exploration into God.

We have to seek deeper knowledge, more personal love, and a service of God that is the mystical experience of union with Christ the head as members of his body. In the Church of today, anyone who is not a mystic is a misfit. We must “think of ourselves in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries… It is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy” (1Corinthians 4:1). Anyone who doesn’t explore the deep meaning of the mysteries we receive at Baptism and celebrate at Mass is an unfaithful steward.

The enterprise is exploration into God. Anyone not moving forward is a deserter. Anyone resistant to change has denied the faith—like the Pharisees who rejected Jesus, like the bishops who left predator priests in place, like the laity who never spoke up. Wrong comes up to face us everywhere, never to leave us ’til we take the longest stride of soul we ever took. The enterprise is exploration into God. Only those who search will find (Matthew 7:7). Are we going to move or not?

A highway will be there, called the holy way. No one unclean may pass over it, nor fools…. It is for those with a journey to make… (Isaiah 35:8, Jerusalem Bible). If you don’t accept that you have a journey to make, Scripture says you are unclean. You are a fool. Harsh words. But they only echo the warning of God:

When you have had children and children’s children, and become complacent … you will soon utterly perish… Only a few of you will be left … In your distress, when all these things have happened to you… you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find him if you search after him with all your heart and soul (Deuteronomy 4:25)..

Thank God our time is now.

Thank God our time is now, when wrong Comes up to face us everywhere, Never to leave us ’til we take The longest stride of soul man ever took. Affairs are now soul size. The enterprise is exploration into God.

Waking Prayer – Making Contact

Obviously, the first thing we need to do on waking up is make contact with the Trinity. The life we are about to live this day is “Trinitarian life”—because we are made in the image of God, and God’s life is relationship – that is, interaction – between Father, Son and Spirit. It doesn’t make sense to start the day without establishing conscious relationship – that is, interaction—with the Three Persons whose life is the key to and pattern of ours.

All the above applies to human life. But if we have received (perhaps without recognizing it) the “grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,” then in addition to our human life, we share in the divine life of God. Our life is not just in the image of the Trinity’s; it is the life of the Trinity, shared with us.

So our life is to share in the life – which is the relationship, which is the interaction – between the Father, Son and Spirit. How do we do that?

Let’s make it simple. By Baptism we “became Christ” (don’t believe me? see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 795). So just live as Christ. We let Jesus interact with the Father and Spirit (and the world) with us, in us and through us. That can be simpler than it sounds. Start your day with three prayers:

1. Say the Our Father. When his disciples asked him to teach them to pray, Jesus responded by teaching them what to pray for – the five priorities of his own heart. When we pray the Our Father, we interact with the Father by making the Son’s desires consciously our own:

Our Father: We begin by recalling that, in Christ, we are divine, sharing God’s own divine life as children, not just creatures. We talk to God as Jesus does, calling him “Father.”

Hallowed be thy name: Jesus lived to make the Father known and loved. So should we.

Thy Kingdom come: He announced the reign of God on earth and worked to establish it. We make this our mission in life.

Thy will be done: When doing meant dying, Jesus put the Father’s will first. We choose the same.

Give us…bread: Jesus came to gather the whole human race together around the table at the “wedding banquet of the Lamb” – where he himself is the Bread of Life and joy. We condense all our desires into this one and ask for it alone – for everyone.

And forgive… as we forgive: The Bread of Life is served only at a communal banquet. Only those can receive it who are willing to sit down with everyone else, forgiving all as God forgives. We ask for this in union with Jesus.

2. Say the WIT prayer. Realistically, we can’t do any of the above. So we interact with the Son by asking Jesus: “Live this day with me, live this day in me, live this day through me. Let me think with your thoughts, speak with your words, and act as your body on earth.” This is the WIT prayer (With, In and Through). Repeated repetition, all day long, will make you a mystic.

3. Say the “Come Holy Spirit.” We realize we can’t even surrender to Jesus by our own human power. So we join Jesus in asking the Spirit: “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in us the fire of your divine love.” Then we pray to Jesus and the Father, declaring our hope: “Send forth your Spirit, Lord, and our hearts will be regenerated. And you will renew the face of the earth.” If we know the traditional prayer of the Church we add: “Father, by the light of the Holy Spirit you instruct the hearts of your faithful. Grant us by the same Holy Spirit that we may always do what is right and just, and always rejoice in his consolation. We ask this through Christ our Lord.”

By saying these three prayers we are trying, at least, to begin this day consciously loving the Father, united to the Son “in Christ,” responsive to the Holy Spirit. To do this is to live our real life.

“God did not make death.” But the truth is, we blame him for it. We blame him for sin too. Julian of Norwich wrote that, before God taught her, “In my foolishness I often wondered why, through the great foreseeing wisdom of God, sin was not prevented. For it seemed to me that then all would have been well.”

God could have kept sin from happening. Why didn’t he? Jesus answered her with three shocking words: “Sin is necessary.”

He didn’t mean sin itself. He was talking about what Julian was complaining of: all the suffering and sorrow sin causes on earth; the terrible things people do that their victims blame God for, including sometimes things they do to themselves.

Julian saw that “all which is not good” actually contributes to our good. “The shameful contempt and complete denial of himself that Jesus endured for us... all the pains and passions, spiritual and bodily, of all his creatures... this pain is something for a time. It purges us and makes us know ourselves and ask for mercy.”

There are recovering alcoholics who bless the day they “hit bottom” so hard it woke them up and made them turn to AA and to a “higher power.”

In this context Jesus spoke to Julian the words she is famous for: “All will be well, and every kind of thing will be well.” God can be happy in spite of the sin and suffering in the world, because he sees an ending that is not just happy but perfect. “All will be well. All will be well. And every manner of thing will be well.”

That is the bottom line; just as resurrection was the bottom line of Jesus’ passion and death. And resurrection should be the first and bottom line of every Christian life on earth.

We should rise out of bed every morning as we rose out of the waters of Baptism: to let Jesus rise from the dead in our bodies, As soon as we wake, we should embrace consciously the mystery of our Baptism: “Jesus, I give you my body. Live this day with me, live this day in me, live this day through me.”

This should be the first line, the bottom line, and the repeated line we speak all during the day. “Lord, do this with me, do this in me, do this through me.” By Baptism we “became Christ.” This is the mystery of our life. We live to think with his thoughts, speak with his words, and act as his body on earth.

If we do this, “All will be well. All will be well. And every manner of thing will be well.”