Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Feast of Saint Barnabas the Apostle

"The Church in Jerusalem... sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart for he was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith. And a large number of people was added to the Lord. Then he went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the Church and taught a large number of people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians" (Acts 11:22-26).

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Renewed Day By Day

"We who live are constantly being given up to death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh... Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.

"For we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven... While we are in this tent we groan and are weighed down, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a first installment."

~2 Corinthians 4:11, 16-18; 5:1, 4-5

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Come Holy Spirit, Through Mary’s Heart

Prayer for the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary:

“O God, who prepared a fit dwelling place for the Holy Spirit in the Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, graciously grant that through her intercession we may be a worthy temple of your glory.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.”

Friday, June 7, 2024

The Heart of Jesus Says, “Come To Me…”

Jesus, God the Son, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity (the God who is “one but not solitary,” who is an eternal communion of ineffable love)… Jesus, our God, our Savior, Son of the Father… Jesus is a man. “The Word was made flesh…” (John 1:14).

Jesus is human. He understands us, longs for us, suffers for us in His human heart. Jesus says, “Come to me.”

We poor humans with our sorrows and heavy burdens—God is not far away. He is here. He is Jesus and He wants to stay with us. God has a human heart, and with that beating heart He loves each one of us and every human person. He loves us in a fully human way, and He wants us to love Him. We are His brothers and sisters.

We are also, therefore, brothers and sisters to one another. In the love of His Heart, Jesus longs for us to love one another.

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Life as an Invalid Feels Like Prison?

It has been a hard year, a hard Spring, a hard last couple of weeks. I have been hurting a lot. Reading is harder, writing is harder, thinking is harder, remembering things is harder. But Depression isn’t too bad, and OCD is manageable… most of the time. All this stuff is familiar from the past 20+ years. It’s all related to the Lyme disease that went untreated and misdiagnosed for a very long time (read my 2010 book for details about that odyssey and other things too: here’s the LINK). We did everything we could back in ‘04 and ‘05 when I was finally diagnosed for Lyme that I may have first contracted in 1988. Success was only partial. Symptoms recur—call it “chronic Lyme” or “post-Lyme” or “long Lyme” (a new perspective for doctors who have had to deal with “long COVID”). I have had “ups and downs” frequently, and flare-ups of this or that for years. But lately I’m getting hit with a barrage of stuff at the same time.

Is this like being in prison? Sometimes it feels that way. It feels like prison.

I’m frustrated. Stuck mostly in bed these days. I’m able to take a walk most evenings. Prisoners are allowed out for exercise for a half hour every day. Mass on Sunday. Otherwise I rely on technological gadgets, which have opened lots of avenues of wider engagement from home. And, of course, books. But lately, I’m so tired…

I have so many thoughts in my mind, so much I have studied and considered long and hard, but I worry because I can’t “get them out,” express them, share them. Sometimes I can’t even put them together in my own head. Over 30 years ago, Fr Giussani told me, “You will be a great teacher.” I am a sinner, but I think I have tried to follow the way he pointed out to me. When I got too sick to teach in the classroom any more, I kept studying. I have learned much in my years as an “invalid” (or, as I prefer to say, “semi-invalid”), and it’s not just academic stuff.

I’m lazy, proud, and disorganized, but I keep trying. Or I’m trying to try… I want to live, and even if I’m tied up, I want to look at the rope and learn about it, and I recognize that there is something more than its constraints. I know that the meaning of my life doesn’t depend on myself. I’m created and sustained and I belong to the Infinite Someone who moves me. I forget that too often, or sometimes I just cry out “Why? Where am I going?” 

I have been given so many possibilities to learn, to verify again and again that all of this life is a sign of the promise of meaning and fulfillment, and my total need for the One who brings them. With my academic training, I’m listening to the voices of the peoples of recent history, and the tremendous suffering that has been endured. Aspirations and achievements too—great and hopeful things, yes!—but so much suffering, failure, distortion, betrayal, so much crying out in the darkness, so many defenseless human persons being smashed—yet especially here, the image of God doesn’t disappear, and any spark of humanity left unquenched keeps looking for air to burn.

We continue to endure this monstrous storm, expanding our power and riding on the edges of chaos. Admirable achievements, but so much suffering and so much darkness. “Why, God? Where are we going?”

Eh, my “prison”? I’m certainly not alone here. This “place” is full of humanity, of persons. There is so much longing for life here. And of course, Jesus is here. He has come to stay with us, to suffer with us and for us, to suffer for the sake of love. What does that mean, God? What is this “love,” Jesus?

The Mystery dwells among us. Never mind “theology,” I’m too small to understand more than what is given to me. Many saints have reached great depths in the experience of this mysterious love. But millions and millions of people (as far as we can tell) have never really heard His name. The Mystery dwells among us in mysterious ways. Somehow, they encounter Him. But we want to share with them the awareness of Him that has been given to us. We want to share Him, share ourselves… and also we want to discover His love for others—encounter Him through them too. There are surprising “signs” among the poor and suffering peoples of this earth.

Perhaps what really matters for me right now is praying and suffering my incapacities, “offering” them in union with Jesus, especially for my beautiful family and for those who carry heavy burdens, that they might know the Lord’s mercy.

Meanwhile, I work as much as I am able, without trying to overdo it. I thank God for every day.

I read. I listen to audio when my eyes are too tired. I can still experiment with digital graphic art, which nevertheless sometimes stresses me out because the new possibilities are growing constantly and exponentially. It takes time to get used to new forms and capacities of media. You can see that I made a strange “self-portrait” above.

Please pray for me as I struggle with difficulties like these. We all suffer with pain that is beyond our understanding. I know that. Let us pray for one another.

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

The Human Dignity of the Chinese People

Thirty-five years ago (June 4, 1989), the Chinese Communist Party mercilessly crushed thousands of people who had been gathering for over a month in Tiananmen Square to demonstrate peacefully, and to petition their rulers for basic human rights and recognition of human dignity. In Beijing, protesters were joined by people from all walks of life, including journalists from the PartyState-controlled media.

We must never forget the Chinese people or other peoples of the world whose fundamental dignity as human persons is neglected, repressed, or violated by the ideologies and weapons of unjust powers. If nothing else, we can listen to their stories, hold them in our hearts, and pray for them.

Sunday, June 2, 2024

Solemnity of Corpus Christi 2024

“It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God, through Christ our Lord.

“For at the Last Supper with his Apostles, establishing for the ages to come the saving memorial of the Cross, he offered himself to you as the unblemished Lamb, the acceptable gift of perfect praise.

“Nourishing your faithful by this sacred mystery, you make them holy, so that the human race, bounded by one world, may be enlightened by one faith and united by one bond of charity.

“And so, we approach the table of this wondrous Sacrament, so that, bathed in the sweetness of your grace, we may pass over to the heavenly realities here foreshadowed.

“Therefore, all creatures of heaven and earth sing a new song in adoration.”

~from the Preface for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi