Friday, May 13, 2011

The Joy of Offering

...that we may attain the joys of eternal life.

Joy is the fruit of that secure relationship of love with something or someone good. But as St. Augustine pointed out so many centuries ago, every good in this world whispers, "I did not make myself. I was made by Someone Else...." It is only in that Someone Else that lasting joy can be found, the joy that encompasses and fulfills the promise contained in created things.

When I say those words above in the morning, and again at noon, during this Easter season, what am I asking of God? I am asking to "attain the joy"--the joy that endures because it is the fruit of a relationship with the One who is worthy of eternal love, the Only One who can exhaust and engage fully and finally the love that has been awakened in my heart.

I am asking God to make my day an "offering." This means affirming the reality of things according to that inner secret that constitutes their being and goodness: the fact that they belong-to-Another. And so I cannot possess things by dominating them and reducing them to my own measure. My life becomes "offering" when I use and possess and love things in a way that takes them completely seriously, because things are a hymn of rejoicing to the One who makes them be, and the only way to truly love them is to join in that hymn. The ecstasy of the beauty of things is their giving-back-of-themselves to the One who sustains them and calls them to their own fruition. I offer my day when I join in with the "giving" of things, when I allow their song of rejoicing to enter into my awareness, when my engagement of reality becomes a prayer, a "blessing of the Lord" that gives voice to the hymn of creation: Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord. Praise and exalt Him above all forever!

How does this "offering" extend to love for another person? The greatest gift, the greatest beauty in all of creation is the other person. There is much to be said about this. For now, I can only reflect that in loving other persons I am loving others who, like me, are called to the joys of eternal life. When I engage in a relationship with another person, I "offer" that relationship by recognizing that this someone is not primarily a  source of satisfaction or utility for me, but someone who has a destiny, who is "for Another." To love a person as offering is to love them for what they truly are, that is, to love them for the sake of that Other and their relationship with that Other. It is to love their destiny.