Unbinding

Following up on yesterday’s post:

“Several years ago a television documentary followed the family of a young woman who had been brutally murdered.  Her murderer was eventually caught, convicted, and sentenced to death for the horrible crime.  The victim’s father was given permission to witness the execution, which he was certain would give him satisfaction and peace.  In a press conference held after the execution, the father was asked if it was all he hoped it would be.  He answered, ‘Absolutely!’  He paused and added, ‘My only regret is that I can’t watch him die again every day for the rest of my life.’  My heart sank watching this poor man who had been robbed of so much.  The execution did not give him back his daughter, and would never give him the peace he so desperately needed.  Jesus’ command to be overly generous in forgiving those who have hurt us deeply is really an invitation to freedom.  The Greek word used in the New Testament that we usually translate as ‘forgive’ can also be translated as ‘unbind’.  When we forgive another person, we are unbinding him or her from some past sin or hurt–but, often enough, the other person either will not or cannot receive the gift.  However, the act of forgiveness always unbinds and sets free our hearts as nothing else can.”  (Fr. Richard G. Smith)

He tells us: “Come out!”

lazarus“Before the sealed tomb of his friend Lazarus, Jesus “cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out.’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth” (11:43-44). This commanding cry is addressed to every man, because we are all marked for death, all of us; it is the voice of he who is the Lord of life and desires that all “have it in abundance” (John 10:10). Christ has not resigned himself to the tombs that we have created with our choices of evil and death, with our mistakes, with our sins. He does not resign himself to this! He invites us, he almost commands us, to come out of the tombs in which our sins have buried us. He insistently calls us out of the darkness of the prison in which we have shut ourselves, contenting ourselves with a false, egoistic and mediocre life. “Come out!” he tells us, “Come out!” It is a beautiful invitation to true freedom, to let ourselves be seized by these words of Jesus that he repeats to each one of us today. It is an invitation to remove the “burial shroud,” the burial shroud of pride. Pride makes us slaves, slaves to ourselves, slaves of many idols, of many things. Our resurrection begins here: when we decide to obey this command of Jesus, going out into the light, into life; when the masks fall from our face – often we are masked by sin, the masks must fall! – and we rediscover the courage of our true face, created in the image and likeness of God.” (Pope Francis)

Gold on glass

Sr. Dorcee:

Friday: from the archives

Originally posted on Witnesses to Hope:

Makoto Fujimura is a Christian contemporary artist.  He studied under Matazo Kayama.  One of Kayama-sensei’s lessons teach us a lot about the spiritual life, about God’s wonderful work in our souls.  Fujimura reflects on one lesson:

“When he gathered us students to teach us how to use gold, he had one of his assistants bring a clear piece of glass.  He then proceeded to glue the gold right onto the glass.  Lifting the glass, he showed us that the most pure gold is nearly transparent as it casts a bluish light and halo.  I mentally pictured the new Jerusalem ‘coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband’ (Rev. 21.2).  The transparency of gold that Kayama-sensei was displaying overlapped with John’s vision.  For the new Jerusalem is a ‘city of pure gold, as pure as glass’ (Rev. 21.18).”  (Makoto Fujimura, Refractions)

View original

Baseball and hope

If you’re a fan of baseball at all, you’ll appreciate this piece by Elizabeth Scalia:

It was 2003. Eight innings into yet-another nail-biter of a series between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, there came a guttural wail from the stands at Fenway Park.

“For the love of God . . . ”

It was one lone voice; a man—whose sound was remarkably reminiscent of the late Chris Farley at his most passionately unhinged—was seated close enough to the announcer’s booth that his agony was picked up and broadcast in New York.

It was one lone voice; a man—whose sound was remarkably reminiscent of the late Chris Farley at his most passionately unhinged—was seated close enough to the announcer’s booth that his agony was picked up and broadcast in New York.

“For the love of God . . . ” he cried, again and again, as one Bosox batter after another swung and missed, and looming before him was a ninth inning full of Mariano Rivera at his peak.

Watching at home, my son and I heard a hated rival’s naked pain, and we hooted in what might be called cruel appreciation.

Baseball fans understand each other’s afflictions. We could laugh in that moment, because our team was winning, but we recognized all too well the sound of anguish emanating from Beantown; we had felt it enough, in the Bronx. When the umpire called “strike three” at the third out, the single voice dissolved into a bellow of incoherent angst and three hundred miles away we knew the man had slumped into his chair with his head in his hand, and his heart full of hate; not for the Yankees—that was a given—but for his own team, and for the game of baseball, itself, of which the late commissioner A. Bartlett Giammati once wrote, “it breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart.”

The heartbreak is what makes it great, and the source of the heartbreak is the clutch—that period of time (and it can last for a moment or for years) when everything meaningful in your life fades into a peripheral nothingness until an outcome is known. In the clutch, love is balancing—one foot, en pointe—along a thin wire of hope, and still determining if, or when, the next foot might be safely employed.

Read the rest right here.

Lead, kindly light

Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,–
Lead thou me on!
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene,–one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that thou
Shouldst lead me on:
I loved to choose and see my path, but now
Lead thou me on!
I loved the garish days, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will: remember not past years.

So long thy power hath blessed me, sure it still
Will lead me on;
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone;
And with the morn those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.

John Henry Newman
Here is a lovely adaptation by Audrey Assad:

Bright sadness

Sometimes it helps to look at things with a new perspective.  Here is the Orthodox perspective on Lent.

“The Lenten season is meant to kindle a ‘bright sadness’ within our hearts. Its aim is precisely the remembrance of Christ, a longing for a relationship with God that has been lost. Lent offers the time and place for recovery of this relationship. The darkness of Lent allows the flame of the Holy Spirit to burn within our hearts until we are led to the brilliance of the Resurrection.” (Alexander Schmemann)

Ponder that one today and may you long for your relationship with God in any ways that it may be lost.

He thirsts for our thirst

Jesus & the woman at the well

From the beginning of , Amazing Nearness, by the author of The Gift of Faith, Fr. Tadeusz Dajczer:

In my daily life, I am constantly getting lost. Yet that means He can constantly find me.  The more I need Him, the closer He is.  I can ceaselessly discover that in weariness He sought me.  This means loving until weary.  Because of Original Sin He constantly searches for us to the point of weariness and exhaustion, humanly speaking.

In the Eucharistic encounter, Jesus regularly finds me quite lost.   Yet, I am normally lost, needing to be found.  So no need for regrets.  If I am lost I can only be found in Eucharistic love.  He can only find me when I am lost and beginning to search for Him.  Love needs two.  It is a grace always given to me to seek Him through faith, hope, and love.

Fr. Dajczer is here making a reference to the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman in John 4.  “Jesus, wearied as he was with his journey, sat down beside the well.”  Augustine points out that Jesus is weary because He is on a journey to seek us each out.  He is thirsty for our faith.  He knows that we are lost and constantly sets out to find us.  If you feel lost today, take heart that He is seeking you and looking for you.  Let yourself be found by Him.

Thy Mercy Free

Out of the depths we cry to thee.
Lord, hear us, we implore thee.
Bend down thy gracious ear to us.
Let our prayer come before thee!
On our misdeeds in mercy look
O deign to blot them from thy book,
And let us come before thee.

Thy sov’reign grace and boundless love
Show thee, O Lord, forgiving.
Our purest thoughts and deeds but prove
Sin in our hearts is living.
None guiltless in thy sight appear.
All who approach thy throne must fear,
And humbly trust thy mercy.

Thou canst be merciful while just.
This is our hope’s foundation.
In thy redeeming grace we trust.
O grant us thy salvation.
Upheld by thee we stand secure.
Thy word is firm, thy promise sure,
And we rely upon thee.

Like those who watch for midnight’s hour
To hail the dawning morrow,
We wait for thee, we trust thy pow’r,
Unmoved by doubt or sorrow.
So let thy people hope in thee,
And they shall find thy mercy free,
And thy redemption plenteous.

Martin Luther

God is holding on to you

Sr. Dorcee:

Friday: from the archives

Originally posted on Witnesses to Hope:

Do you have times when you feel that no matter how well-intentioned you are, you still blow it?  Here are St. Francis de Sales’ thoughts on the matter:

You should be like a little child who while it knows that its mother is holding its sleeve walks boldly and runs all round without being distressed at a little fall or stumble; after all, it is a s yet rather unsteady on its legs.  In the same way, as long as you realize that God is holding on to you by your will and resolution to serve him, go on boldly and do not be upset by your little set-backs and falls; there is no need to be put out by this provided you throw yourselves into his arms from time to time and kiss him with the kiss of charity.  Go on joyfully and with your heart as open and…

View original 30 more words