“Open the door”

See if this article by Dr. Mulholland doesn’t stir your heart to a greater desire to open the door to your Beloved . . .

Get Back to Where You Once Belonged

Open the Door

Atchison, Kansas, March 04, 2014  Dr. Edward Mulholland |

 The Holy Spirit doesn’t fight fair. He hits you when you let your guard down. I was preparing for my Introduction to Hispanic Literature class, minding my own business. And I got triple teamed by the Holy Spirit, Lope de Vega and Longfellow.

One of the most famous sonnets in Spanish literature is ¿Qué tengo yo que mi amistad procuras? By the incomparable Lope Félix de Vega Carpio (1562-1635). An excellent anthology of Spanish verse online, prepared by Benedictine College alum Fred Jehle, professor emeritus at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, includes a translation by none other than Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  A distant memory recalled that Longfellow had learned Spanish and translated Spanish poets. I decided to try my hand at making Lope’s lines ring true for the modern reader.

Lope himself is an amazing figure.  A first class womanizer, Spanish Armada survivor, secretary to the Duke of Alba, he was ordained to the priesthood later in life to try to stave off temptations of the flesh. It only compounded his sin and guilt.  But he was a prolific poet and dramatist, penning a few dozen volumes of verse and more than 400 plays.  He was a tortured soul, and describes better than most the torture of a soul who perceives God’s call but struggles against the undertow of his own sins, original and actual.

Here’s my version of his sonnet:

What have I that You care to be my friend?

    What interest could You possibly pursue,

    That at my doorstep, Jesus, drenched with dew

The dismal nights of wintertime You spend?

My insides must be slabs of pure concrete;

    I opened not for You! A monstrous thing,

    If my ingratitude’s raw, icy sting

Dried out the wounds of your most holy feet!

How many times my angel did proclaim:

    “Look out the window now, oh soul, and see

    How He persists to call with love aflame”!

And, oh, how many, Beauteous Majesty,

   “Tomorrow we will open” I would claim

   To have my words the same tomorrow be!

While reading and re-reading it, it felt like it was my story, too. Perhaps less dramatic, but no less real. How often I screen God’s calls, and replay the voicemail, and leave Him hanging.

I had been postponing confession. After finishing with Lope, I took the hint and promptly got shriven. I may keep Lope’s poem handy to shame myself into answering my Guardian Angel, whose voice has recently gone hoarse.

The liturgy of Ash Wednesday is a clarion call to bust out of the listless lethargy of a mediocre lifestyle.  God has destined us, in his Son, to glory. And to follow Him to glory we must follow Him to the cross. If we have strayed from the path, we must get back. We must, as the Beatles once sang, “get back to where we once belonged.” And there is no other belonging like that belonging, that warm embrace of my Creator, my Father, the One in whom I live and move and have my being.

christ_knockingLent is not about sacrifice for its own sake. It’s about opening doors. It’s about trimming away what separates me from God and makes me deaf to his voice.  His is Beauteous Majesty. And I seek out fleeting fancy that is ugliness and subject myself to rulers unworthy of my rational soul.

Knock, knock. Who’s there? Jesus Christ, wounded out of love for you, chilled with ingratitude, shivering at your door.  Don’t stand there saying “Jesus Christ, who?” Open the door.

The duty to be you

One of the goals of the Christian life is to become more and more you, your true self.  I just posted last week about our desire to be loved for ourselves.  Here is another piece by a wonderful writer, Dr. Edward Mulholland, touching on the same theme.

Tim Wu, a Columbia law professor, has written an interesting piece in The New Yorker about technology. Advances in technology, it appears, don’t automatically signal advances in humanity.  He concludes noting that “The technology industry, which does so much to define us, has a duty to cater to our more complete selves rather than just our narrow interests.”  I was struck by the expression “our more complete selves.”

This past weekend a few hundred high school seniors came to Benedictine College to compete for the Presidential Scholarship.  They are an impressive group. Faced with a tough day of essays and interviews, the advice that I often given is “just be yourself.” But it struck me, as I heard myself saying this, that “being ourselves” is one of the most monumental challenges imaginable. It is, in fact, the purpose of our lives, and how we give glory to God.

You can read the rest here.