Wednesday, August 25, 2004

I hadn't noticed the holiness before

I ran into a guy from church at the gas station. I know him by reputation as a good, generous, holy man, on fire for the faith. I've never talked to him directly about his love for the Lord, because we're usually buzzing by each other at a parish event.

Today, as I shot the breeze with him, I realized I could see the gleam of kindness and serenity in his eyes. We again didn't talk about faith issues, but his gentleness and strength and Christian friendliness were evident.

When I was busy playing games with the Church, come here come here go away go away, what on earth did I think of people like him? I'm afraid I may have only noticed a lame suit or a bad haircut or a sense of humor or an interesting brain.

Does faith reveal faith in others?

(and the corollary: do I have that gleam? I gotta get it if I don't.....)

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Behold the Lammagod!

That's what the sweet college-aged girl who sits behind me at morning Mass every Tuesday clearly says at the Agnus. I forget she's going to do it each week, so I'm not distracted by waiting for it. It adds a smile to my Hosanna.

She sits very close to me, and it startled me when she started coming, great big church and she pulls in right behind me, right over my shoulder. But this morning, it reminds me of when I started back to daily Mass after a long, confused, sinful absence. I've done waves of daily Mass since college, stopping and starting without purpose or understanding, moved by God's Grace but not very interested in His Way.

The other times I always sat so far back I was in another zip code. I observed Mass more than participated in it. It reflected the life I was trying to live, near God but not too near.

This round (no, this beginning, because I can't see how this could stop) I sat nearer the front, mostly because I was trying to move an effective distance from a yawner who was very damaging to the concentration. I moved up, up, up the pews until I found a place to stop.

If you're sitting too far back or too far over, move up! You don't have to sit in the front row, no need to look right up Father's nose, but maybe consider your moving a symbol for your moving closer to the Heart of Christ.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

The upside-down smoke and the shoes under the bed

Somebody in my office wears a rubber band around their wrist as some sort of memory jogger. I don't know them well enough to ask why, but it reminded me of something from ancient college days.

I first met God personally in college. I had a true "conversion experience" on December 10, 1978, when He made Himself known to me as a real Father Who really knew who I was and loved me. I reacted like any college student; I bumbled around trying three things at once. I went to daily Mass for awhile at the student Catholic center, but backed away from the over-friendly people; I read and read and READ (but I didn't think to pray and pray and PRAY); and I brought up the topic of religion among my friends, all of whom with me were science majors.

Oddly, all my closest college friends were either Catholics or Jews, some quite devout. We ended up having some rip-roaring discussions (although in college, everything gets rip-roaring at one point or another). One girl, trying to keep her walk of faith present to her daily, did something to make her aware; she turned the first cigarette around in her pack so it faced up. Every time she looked in her pack for a cigarette, she saw the reversed cigarette and tried to thank God.

(Please control your retching about the cigarettes; we ALL smoked then, everywhere. Times have changed, my children.)

In the domino effect of memory, this reminded me of another trick my second grade nun taught us. Put your shoes way under the bed before you go to sleep. Then, when you get up and get dressed, you have to look for your shoes. When you get down on your knees to fish them out, pray while you're down there. A sweet memory. Thank you, Sr. Willia.

What do you do to keep yourself mindful of Him?

Sunday, August 08, 2004

It is good for us to be here

This week the Church calendar offered us an opportunity to reflect on the Transfiguration, an event which I admit I have never spent that much time thinking about. Partly, I don't understand it. Partly, I suffer from some of the personal exuberance that Peter displays here, to his embarrassment and (by extrapolation) mine. But I saw something different this time around.

A short summary: Jesus takes Peter, James and John up a mountain to pray. While Jesus is praying, his face becomes radiant and his clothes turn dazzlingly white. This, as you can imagine, gets the disciples' attention, and they are astonished to see that Elijah and Moses are talking with Jesus, also glorious in appearance. Peter utters perhaps one of his most profound statements ever -- "It is good for us to be here" -- and then instantly jumps to the mistaken conclusion that what's needed is for him to leap into action -- "Let's build three booths in tribute to you, Moses and Elijah." At this point, God the Father who is clearly determined to drive home His point, engulfs them in a cloud from which a voice echoes: "This is my chosen Son; listen to him."

What if we were to look at this passage from the point of view, not of the disciples, but of Moses or Elijah? The Old Testament teaches us that they were used powerfully by God, Moses to prepare the way for the law, and Elijah to prepare the way for the Messiah. Here, finally, they get to see the Word made Man with their very eyes as God fulfills his will in a way more magnificent than they could have possibly guessed. Jesus is transfigured; Moses and Elijah get to share in the reflected glory of the Son. It is God the Son's glory, not theirs.

But Jesus had not yet taken the sin of the world upon himself. Moses and Elijah, like Peter, James and John are waiting, for what they cannot even guess. While we are yet sinners, God is preparing to do more than we can ask or imagine in order to bring us into union with Him. What the disciples see on Mount Tabor is a preview of what will happen to us. We will all be changed. Jesus' glory will be clearly reflected in us as he finishes what he set out to do.



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"There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being. This much we know."

Pres. Barack Obama, Feb 5, 2009