The ambiguity of a global pandemic tempts us to anxiety and doubt. We feel discomfited by demands of protest and the realities they present. Confusion and chaos seem more present than calm and consolation. In all of this, I have felt invited to listen more deeply to my world, myself, and my God...
When I was young, growing in a small Texas town, fireworks came round once a year. In our town there were no pyrotechnic displays perfectly coordinated with music but the impact of roman candles, sparklers, and poppers were no less exciting. Today, fireworks are more spectacular and more common.
Guilt names a wrongful relationship between a man or woman and their God. It differs from regret and from awareness of having made a mistake. These we recognize and our culture guilds us to correct them. But guilt? Apart from a conviction that it is a mindset bred into me by my upbringing or my culture, we do not recognize it. Yet, if we do not and do not repent of our sin, we will live – as one man in his sixties put it – with a monkey clawing into our back with sharp claws.
After the jihadist terrorist attack in Paris, a number of my friends and correspondents are sharing reflections about Muslims being terrorists, Syrian refugees bringing in clandestine terrorists, and American security being so defective. The mood of twitters is fear. It is not my mood and the reason goes back to the beginning of the pilgrimage I am writing about.
I am just back from a prayer pilgrimage. We visited holy places and we felt their holiness. As we went and prayed, I thought about the “middle class holiness” that Pope Francis sees all around him. So I considered what “holiness” might be for us middle class Americans.
The discussion continues about whether the Big Bang poses a conundrum for science and for religion. For science, because of its commitment to “random selection” – viz. pure chance without any causes of anything. For religion, because of the Genesis narrative about how God created all things.
The “news” comes to us as heaps of raw facts and feelings. It continually massages our values, aims, and purposes. If we let it come into our souls raw and unfiltered, the “news” can burden us and even do us real damage.
While giving a weekend retreat and listening to what a lot of people have on their minds, I began to wonder about what things run through my own mind. Where are my own thoughts? What do I concentrate on?
The words of wisdom this month on the calendar hanging next to my computer read, “what people really need is a good listening to.” Listening. It seems we talk about it a lot which, I suppose, adds to the irony that we actually do it so rarely.
The Church tries to remember in early September the Cross of Jesus and the sufferings of the Lady Mary. These are dense mysteries directly related to the dense mystery of the sufferings we go through. St. Paul told the Romans, We are reconciled to God by the death of his Son.” (5:10)