Thursday, 1 May 2008

999 Call to God

This is a picture of the 10th station of the cross at my home parish in Musselburgh. It's the one station, above all which I associate with the most.

I used to dream that I was in a very public place, and all of a sudden I was naked (now before you start wetting yourselves, let me finish). I wasn't only naked in the physical sense, but also my whole being, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually was stripped bare for all to see. In the dream I can remember feeling so humiliated, but also it's a time when I've cried out to God.

How many of us I wonder, have felt as if we've been stripped of everything? How many of us have made that 999 call out to a God we do not know; how many times have we said that the teachings of the Church are crazy, yet when it comes down to it, the Church and God is all we have left?

I believe that the 10th station shows us something of the humility of God; Jesus the very revelation of the Father, the Son of Man being stripped for all to see. But more than that, the depiction of Jesus being stripped of his garments show us something of the very nature of the human heart.

Jesus was going to the cross to redeem mankind, he had to be stripped before this happened. So in someway, at least to me, the process of being stripped down was necessary for salvation. Maybe, in someway too for us as people, men and women being stripped to nothing is sometimes necessary to truly see God, and to come to the truth.

Personally I believe that in order to receive all, we must desire nothing. Like St. John of the Cross said...

"What more do you want, o soul! And what else do you search for outside, when within yourself you possess your riches, delights, satisfaction and kingdom -- your beloved whom you desire and seek? Desire him there, adore him there. Do not go in pursuit of him outside yourself. You will only become distracted and you won't find him, or enjoy him more than by seeking him within you."

The Church over the last 40 years has had a hard time to say the least. We, the faithful have been stripped of so much beauty, so many customs, so many things precious to our lives both culturally. Even today as I'm pining because there is no celebration of the ascension, a beautiful Holy Day of obligation which I've always loved, even when being away from the Church. Taken away out of a blind attempt at what I do not know. It seems to me as if sometimes the bishops want to reduce the faith to a Sunday thing, and that annoys me in so many ways. Yet we have to bear with it... Because we have a promise, a promise from Jesus Christ himself!

When we look at the stripping of Jesus in our own personal lives too, the death of a loved one, the unexpected tragedy, and bill that puts our plans out the window, a broken relationship - in extreme cases a war, the countless suffering of our people, the injustice in the world. We can at times go the other way, we can hate God, we can tell Him to go away, we can hate the Church and cry her for everything. Yet it is Love which transforms the world.

John Paul the great would always say with his friends Cor unum et anima una, which means One heart and One soul. Being a believer, being a Catholic is being apart of a family, a spiritual body which breathes with One heart and One soul - that is Jesus Christ. It's important we don't forget that!

When we make that 999 call to God, we must ask ourselves do we know God, are we living according to the commandments of God. St. John of the Cross said:

"The first step to be taken by one who wishes to attain the mountaintop is to abandon the road that leads downward. Thus, the first thing we must do if we are to reach the blessed life described in the beatitudes is to renounce, sincerely and fully, the deceptive joy of that the world offers…

Very few people have the courage to be happy. It is difficult to tear the heart away from the things of earth, from riches, from honors. Yet happiness is not outside us, in these things: ‘The kingdom of God is within you’ For the kingdom of God does not consist in food and drink, but in justice and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit…

Tears either come from love or lead to it…The first three beatitudes teach us to die; they disclose the secret of the death – which gives sweetness and joy -… Fruitful tears that fall on the tomb of Lazarus, and like them, produce the prodigy whereby life comes from death!-"

Pope John Paul II took from St. John of the cross that evil consumes itself, and Love will win out. People who criticize the pope for his opposition to liberation theology don't understand this... Yet as the pope taught if we don't allow love to win out, the evil just comes back under another name, like the Nazis, the totalitarian regimes, the dictators, the moral relativism that consumes the world, the pain and suffering of everyday life.

We must be standard bearers of Love in this world, not hate, or opposition or death or destruction; holding onto past hate and injustice only manifests evil, it doesn't propose the Love of God, which we must always present to the world. It's not easy, but how can heart speak to heart in the new evangelization when people cant see the heart in us in the first place?

It takes courage to be happy St. John of the Cross always said, let us have the courage to bear witness to the joy of God in our lives too.

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