Desert of the Spirit

Like most of the world, I am aghast at the horrifying death of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.  The horrible way in which he is presumed to have died is unthinkable – yet it happened.

Unlike President Donald Trump, I don’t think Khashoggi “appears” to be dead.  I am certain of it.  The reporting has been too consistent on the details from all credible sources that are not Fox News. ( As a former reporter, let me assure you that the way journalism works, the more media outlets that confirm and report the EXACT same findings, the LESS the likelihood that news is “fake.”)

Meanwhile, Fox evidently is helping spread conspiracy theories to defame Khashoggi, as if that somehow makes it justified to kill another human being by vivisection.

Because of the many horrible ways to die, to be cut apart while still alive has to be the equivalent of being burned at the stake or crucified.

But Trump cannot internalize that horror.  At a rally in Montana tonight, he gloated in the admitted  misdemeanor assault Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) visited on a reporter by clotheslining the journalist while Gianforte was running for Congress.

But somehow is it is the Democrats – not the Republicans – who are the “unruly mob.”

Trump’s violent rhetoric will someday visit violence on a journalist on our own soil. If he finds it “unfortunate” that the world is taking notice of what Saudi Arabia’s rulers have done to Khashoggi, he will wither under the glare of attention that will be focused on him should a death of a U.S. reporter be committed on our own soil.

When a supposed Christian leader goes on the 700 Club and says that arms sales to Saudi Arabia are more important than murder, you know that God is doing a face plant emoji at the total desecration of the Ten Commandments by those who proclaim His Word to millions on TV.

“Thou shalt not kill” is pretty specific and unambiguous on God’s list of the top ten things in life you shouldn’t do in order to live according to Divine Law.

In fact, when it comes to weapons of war, God’s own opinion about war and its weapons is made plain:

“And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4)

One cannot help but hope that one day God will rebuke a President that places so little on the value of a human life and so much on an arms deal that hasn’t even gotten beyond a statement of intent – as well as a televangelist who clearly feels the same.

For theirs is a desert of the spirit where God’s commands are covered by the sands of war’s spoils.

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When God Made Eve

Tuesday evenings my prayer group regularly meets.  I have been with this group for seven years, but the last three years, ministry meetings often interfered.  So they were surprised to see me turn up at the last-minute this evening.

After opening prayers, we listen to the upcoming Sunday Mass readings and then discuss them.

God must have a sense of humor, because this coming weekend’s readings start with the creation of Eve as a “partner” for Adam.  That is the reading coming off two weeks of Supreme Court drama involving a “she said,” “he said” situation as I write this.

Think about it.  Adam seemed to have everything.  He lived in the garden of Eden.  He had every tree and plant that provided good nutrition.  He got to name every beast God presented him.  He walked and talked with God himself in the garden.

Eden was Paradise, a word literally from the Greek that means “a pleasure park.”  With God as his friend.  Yet it wasn’t enough for Adam.

In fact, God himself acknowledged “It is not good for the man to be alone.”

According to Genesis 2:18-24, God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep, took one of his ribs from his side and created a woman out of the rib.  When she was brought to Adam, his response was:

“This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of ‘her man’ this one has been taken.”  Genesis 2:23

In Hebrew, woman translates as “ishsha.”  From it comes the word ishah (her man).

The author of Genesis says this is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his “wife,” and the two become “one body.”

If you combine that last sentence with the Hebrew translations above, taken together they do not indicate a man dominates, but “he” belongs to “her.”

Or at least that is the way I am choosing to interpret it.

That’s an important distinction coming off a week in which it seemed like male dominance – well, predominated.

I have never seen so much anger and so many red faces on men in my life at one time as I saw on the GOP side of the Senate Judiciary seating.

I guess it is because they see their cultural Eden slipping away from them.  They are no longer Masters of the Universe.  Or at least, they can see they won’t hold that power for very much longer.

As Bob Dylan sang clear back in 1964, “The times they are a-changin.”

Many people didn’t like it then, when it involved full Civil Rights protections for blacks and the final push for desegregation of public spaces and schools, as well as ensuring voting protections.

Clearly they don’t like it now, when the #MeToo movement is adding fervor back into the life of women who have been physically violated, sexually harassed or been treated with less than equity and dignity when they have the same skill sets, talents and credentials as their male peers.

Despite all his amped up rage about how hard he worked to get where he was in life, the truth is that Brett Kavanaugh had things pretty much handed to him.  He started life at Georgetown Prep, a Jesuit and elite private school on the East Coast.  He was a Yale legacy student.  Okay, he was a smart Eli, got good grades and went on to Yale Law School.

So have a lot of men.  And a lot of women, for that matter.

Then either fate or the right connections land him in a fellowship with Judge Kenneth Starr, and he becomes an integral part of the team pursuing Bill Clinton for impeachment and the lead in drafting the Starr Report (hands up from those, like I, who actually read the darned thing.)  He was hell-bent on seeing Clinton impeached.

From there he goes on to work for the G.W. Bush presidential campaign (doesn’t everybody who lifts a few weights and drinks a few ‘skis’ and was somehow “disadvantaged” and had to “work his butt off?”) He again played an integral role in the “hanging chad” controversy and went on to become Bush’s White House Staff Secretary because – hey – he just happened to be in the right place at the right time again.  Pure co-inky-dink.  No special connections to call on at all, I am so sure.

Then, without ever really having practiced law in court a day in his life, without having advised a client who didn’t have a politically partisan stake in the game, without having ever prosecuted anyone but Bill Clinton on paper, Kavanaugh gets nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit because, well, I am sure there were just no other potential jurists who had actually practiced law anywhere to be had.

That he didn’t make it the first go round didn’t stop the GOP from pushing for a second, just like it didn’t stop them from saying they would vote for him for the Supreme Court after three women alleged sexual misconduct and there were doubts about whether or not he truthfully answered questions put to him in both his FIRST hearing and the one involving Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

Brett Kavanaugh DESERVED this, by gosh.  There were weights lifted.  There was beer drunk.  He had a calendar!

And the women coming forth were just lying.  Period.  End of discussion.  Before an allegation had even been investigated by the FBI.

After all, it was all Eve’s fault, right?  She was the one that took the bite of the apple first.  She was the one who “seduced” Adam into taking one too.  At least, that was basically his answer to God when God wanted to know why Adam was hiding from him.  I mean, it wasn’t like Adam had any free will of his own to exercise and say no, right?  It wasn’t like God had befriended him, walked with him, talked with him.  Trusted him.

Isn’t it always the woman’s fault, even when it isn’t?

Yet God’s harshest words were for Adam:

“By the sweat of your face shall you get bread to eat, until you return to the ground, from which you were taken; For you are dirt, and to dirt you shall return.”  Genesis 3:19

Yes, Masters of the Universe, God was harsh with you that day.  He had expected you to be “her man.”  He had expected you to stand up for her, not victim blame her. As the steward of Eden, God had expected YOU to say “get thee behind me, Satan.  We won’t be tempted.”

But you were – tempted.  Men sometimes are.  Eve, she was just tricked by the devil.

It’s not like guys have free will, after all.  Just weights to lift and “skis” to drink.

And low friends in high places to help them hide from God when they don’t want to answer his questions truthfully.  Or those of the Senate Judiciary.

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Are You Enjoying The Play, Mrs. Lincoln?

The Thursday hearing to listen to testimony from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford alleging Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her is political theater. Nothing more; nothing less.

A Judiciary Committe vote on the confirmation has already been set for Friday morning at 9:30 a.m.

No standard investigation of these allegations has been done by the FBI.  Evidently the Senate Judiciary will not hear from an alleged second victim.  Or any corroborating witnesses.

Meanwhile, attorney Michael Avenatti claims to have a third, credible victim that he will reveal in 48 hrs.

The 11 white Republican men on the committee apparently will not directly question Dr. Blasey Ford themselves.  They have hired an “assistant,” aka a female lawyer, specializing in sexual harassment and other cases.

They think somehow this will provide better optics.

But given publicly televised statements several of them, McConnell, and President Donald Trump have made this past week – heck, just TODAY – they couldn’t be more wrong.

They have, all along, been quite obvious about how they will vote and what they already believe. The optics are terrible at best and horrifying to those of us who have survived sexual abuse.

But it is really what they want that is most disquieting.  They want to overturn Roe v. Wade – and Lord knows what other equal opportunity protections for women and minorities in the future.

If you don’t realize this, you haven’t been paying attention. Since, like, Goldwater in 1964.

This is the last stand of the conservative white male men – they are all Custer, out to legally decimate those of us natives who do not resemble them or want to let them tell us what to do, think, feel and be. Even though there are more of us than there are of them.  Even though we are the majority.

I am Catholic.  I believe in life at conception until natural death.

However, for a nation premised on God “establishing” us, we do not seem to want to allow people (in this case, women) to use the free will God granted when it comes to their liberties and freedoms, even how to treat their own bodies.

And we really have it all twisted when it comes to Jesus’ admonition to love thy neighbor as thyself.  He put no restrictions on who that neighbor might be.  We would build walls to make sure people who don’t look like us are definitely not our neighbor.

Mr. Rogers is weeping on the sleeve of his sweater in Heaven right now.

Do I want to see babies aborted? No. But then, unlike my Church, I believe in contraception – both to prevent abortion and to curtail the spread of sexually transmitted diseases that can end in infertility, sterility or cancer.

And it is also my belief that every person stands in judgement for what they do – but that God’s mercy and love is far greater.  I trust in it.

What we need is a Supreme Court that is not ideologically packed either to the far right or the far left.  We need Justices who can truly look – without passion or prejudice – on each case that comes before them and rule based on the merits of the law.

We needed a Judge like Merrick Garland.  But McConnell aborted his nomination.

With glee, as the legend goes.

Custer died during his “last stand.”

Hopefully the outdated patriarchy that still has a strangle hold on this nation will too.

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“As The Deer Longs…”

Today has been very emotional and tearful.  I have by turns been morose when alone and manically “on” in conversation with others, playing a role designed to hide my pain.

At times like these, I slip away from God for a bit, but slowly return. Usually my devotional will be exactly at the needed page with just the message I needed to hear.

Today is ending as one of those days.  It took me to Psalm 42 in the Bible, which I share with you here:

For the leader. A maskil of the Korahites.*

I

2 As the deer longs for streams of water,a

so my soul longs for you, O God.

3 My soul thirsts for God, the living God.

When can I enter and see the face of God?*b

4 My tears have been my bread day and night,c

as they ask me every day, “Where is your God?”d

Those times I recall

as I pour out my soul,e

When I would cross over to the shrine of the Mighty One,*

to the house of God,

Amid loud cries of thanksgiving,

with the multitude keeping festival.f

Why are you downcast, my soul;

why do you groan within me?

Wait for God, for I shall again praise him,

my savior and my God.

II

7 My soul is downcast within me;

therefore I remember you

From the land of the Jordan* and Hermon,

from Mount Mizar,g

8*Deep calls to deep

in the roar of your torrents,

and all your waves and breakers

sweep over me.h

9 By day may the LORD send his mercy,

and by night may his righteousness be with me!

I will pray* to the God of my life,

10 I will say to God, my rock:

“Why do you forget me?i

Why must I go about mourning

with the enemy oppressing me?”

11 It shatters my bones, when my adversaries reproach me,

when they say to me every day: “Where is your God?”

12 Why are you downcast, my soul,

why do you groan within me?

Wait for God, for I shall again praise him,

my savior and my God.

New American RE Bible

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“God Bless Texas”

For the past couple of days, I have written about the looming issue of teen rape allegations that have been leveled against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh by Dr. Christine Basley Ford.

It has roiled emotions in me that as a 65-year-old woman you wouldn’t think would still be so tender.

But I have always been a deeply reflective person, admittedly with a bit of the drama queen thrown in.  Hopefully it makes what I write a little more worth reading than it might otherwise be.

I just read a “Washington Post” article by a writer named Elizabeth Bruenig that I wish I could lay claim to – except she deserves every accolade she receives for having written it so beautifully.

It is the story of a teen rape that occurred in her high school and how justice was never obtained by the victim, even though she reported it in a timely manner.

But mostly it is about the cruelties of high school and small, insular communities and how people come angrily together in their denial to harm a victim even more.

And it is how the gentlest, most vulnerable among us are easy prey for hunters who can kill us with harmful acts and deadly lies as easily as if they shot us.

This story took me back to my own teen years and school experiences. As it takes place in Texas, it also makes me wonder about what one of my nieces may have experienced that has led her to a life outcome I desperately didn’t want for her.

Some things I know.  But a great deal I am sure I – or maybe anyone – know nothing about.

She doesn’t know how much I still love her and ache for her to turn her life around.  She doesn’t know this because we don’t speak any more.

That is on me.  Because there comes a point when you have held out your hand to help someone, and they continually slap it away, you just stop.  There comes a time when they do something that – while you can forgive it – you can’t stand by and quietly observe it any more.

Because maybe what they did hits a little too close to a raw childhood nerve that never heals. Even when you are 65-years-old.

Ours is a family dominated by a matriarch who was never my mother, not in a daily sense, as she didn’t raise me.

But her imprint was stamped on me at birth and repeatedly pointed out to me by the parents who did raise me, my grandfather and his second wife. Down to a “sneer” I didn’t know I possessed and a physical resemblance I am constantly told of by my sisters.

As I came to know her as an adult, we searched out the similarities in each other, from the exact same outfits hanging in our closets to our shared love of reading and doing crosswords.

Although I don’t think she graduated high school, as she was 16 when I was born, she was a smart cookie, my mother.

I am a smart cookie too. Except we both had terrible taste in men. In fact, except for my youngest sister, none of us has had much luck on that score.

It’s generational, it seems, touching my niece’s life in very dramatic ways.

Which is a round about way of getting back to the main issue. How, in a society supposedly as advanced as is our own, are women still prey and men the hunters?

What are the biological and psychological imperatives that drive that dynamic so that it cannot be educated out of us? Even at the “highest “ levels of our society?

If we are, indeed, created in God’s image, what does that make God? Why ever would the angels envy us, as my Catholic religion teaches, we creatures with one foot in the material and the other in the spiritual world?

No, I am not blaming God for our fallen choices.  Just for knowing in advance that we would make them. And knowing that his dying on the Cross to expiate their sin wouldn’t make living any less painful for us all.

I have always questioned what purgatory really means, if it really exists.  Perhaps this is it: knowing some of us are prey, and others hunters.

And screaming #MeToo doesn’t seem to change it very much at all.

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90 Day Challenge: Third Interruption, Day 2

I continue the interrupted stage of my spiritual challenge. It has been a hectic week, as weeks leading up to three-day holiday weekends tend to be, even for those of us in retirement. Your regular rhythms get rocked.

Of course, that is what this challenge is supposed to help you establish – a routine spiritual practice that doesn’t get rocked by your Labor Day weekend or any other plans. I am challenge-challenged, I guess.

It doesn’t help that at a time I am trying to deepen my Catholic practice, the Church again is embroiled in controversy.  Understandably you question your commitment to a Church that has failed spectacularly as an institution so many times throughout its history.

But I deeply believe in the theological underpinnings of the Church. I can no more turn my back on Jesus in the Eucharist now than I could disown my son.  It is never going to happen.  There is no going back on that for me.

This doesn’t mean I am not critical or saddened in the Church as an organization.  But perhaps because I am a convert, I have never had the “awe” of priests that those raised in the Church grew up with.

So the fact that they can be seriously flawed human beings capable of their own grave sin does not surprise.

Also I joined after the 2002 Boston Globe expose that so rattled the Church and began reforms and more inclusion of laity.  But I think the Church has far to go in transforming – not its theology or Tradition – but framing those things within a changing world.

And self-sufficient woman I have always been, yes, I think women should be able to play greater and more authoritative roles, including that of being Deacons. If we can train them in their formation (and we do), then it is indeed a failure that we cannot be Deacons.

Please, spare me the Apostolic heritage argument.  The risen Christ appeared first to a woman – my Patron Saint, Mary Magdalene.  If she can proclaim Christ’s resurrection to the original twelve Apostles, we women can proclaim the Gospel itself.  And give homilies.

In fact, I think the feminine view proclaimed from the Ambo would give new dimension, insight and depth to a Church too steeped in its patriarchy.

Allow Mary, our Mother, to proclaim through a female voice to the congregation “Do as he tells you.”

I am not suggesting this as a cure for child sexual abuse that has happened in the past. (Please God, let it be in the past.)

But I do think it could be a part of the balm that heals the Church going forward.

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90 Day Challenge: Day 38 – Semper Fi

“If we are faithless, he remains faithful-for he cannot deny himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13

The Lord is faithful, even when I am not.

There are far too many days, too many times during any given day, when I fail to turn to him in my need.

Yet he is always there, waiting patiently for me to return, ever constant in his nature, ever and always the same.

Growing up in an alcoholic home, it is difficult for me to believe in the constancy of who people show themselves to be.

I loved my father a great deal.  But I never knew when he was going to be loving, when he was going to be mildly irritated or when he would be outright vicious and nasty-all over the exact same situation.

All depended on the time of day and how much beer he had consumed.

I was fortunate that I received mostly loving moments and mildly irritated ones.  The outright vicious and nasty he saved for my Mom.

Usually she bore them in stoic silence.  But once in a while, epic fights would break out.

I remember one summer night our neighbor boy, Tom, coming to our house, grabbing me and taking me outside to stand under the street light because my parent’s argument was so loud and heated it could be heard throughout the neighborhood.

Another time I remember we were driving in the car one night.  It got to the point that I couldn’t stand it any longer and I actually screamed at my parents to shut up.

I must have absolutely shocked them because they dropped into dead silence.

These episodes were few and far between, which is probably what makes them so memorable.

Still, with my Dad when he drank, you never knew exactly which side of his personality would show up.

I don’t mean to project my parental insecurities onto my relationship with God, the Father.  But maybe it is natural, because my human emotions are all I know.

Still, like many people, I sometimes have difficulty reconciling the God of the Old Testament with the God of the New Testament.

I want with all my heart to believe as Thomas Merton did that the nature of God is pure love.  I try to keep my focus there.

And there is plenty of Scripture that validates this vision of God.  Even in the Old Testament.

”But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15

”Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.” Psalm 36:5 

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

No, it is not God who is unfaithful. It is I who in my weakness often lack faith.

Semper Fi.  Another name for the Lord our God.

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90 Day Challenge: Day 37 -Set The World Ablaze

“If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!” St. Catherine of Sienna

From an early age, I have always struggled with this concept of who I was to be.

When I was young and day dreaming, in my head I was transformed from a fat, glasses wearing teen no one wanted to date into a beauty queen who could also argue the law like Perry Mason. ( I think Megyn Kelly got that gig.)

When I won a California Newspaper Publishers Association Award for my paper early in my career, I should have been destined for more than a six-year gig on a local paper.  Or so I tell myself looking back on my lack of courage to try for a fully realized career as a reporter.

When I was married, I was sure I was eventually supposed to lead some sort of “Please Don’t Eat The Daisies” kind of existence, where I was both the perfect mother who baked cookies every day and was the winner of a Nobel Prize for Literature on  the side.

Whatever the “label” I have worn in life, I was always sure I was supposed to be more than I was, and constantly disappointed in myself that I wasn’t.

The same is true of my Christian life.  No matter how many ministries I pour myself into, no matter what Christian counseling or teaching duties I take on, I always feel I was meant to be better than I turn out.

I am a gingerbread cookie whose form always seems to crumble when put to the ultimate tests.

Yet the Bible clearly tells me I am made in the image of God. If so, why have I not better reflected that in what I have tried to achieve?

Today’s First Reading is about the predicted downfall of the prince of Tyre, who had a haughty heart and said “A god am I.”

I think we all set ourselves up to be little “g” gods at times in our lives.  As you can see from my preceding account, I certainly have.  At least in my own mind.

But an “image” is a reflection of God, not God himself. It is not that we are supposed to be God, but that others see him in us.

What, precisely, does that mean?

Fr. Thomas Merton wrote: “To say that I am made in the image of God is to say that love is the reason for my existence, for God is love. Love is my true identity. Selflessness is my true self. Love is my true character. Love is my name.”

I still feel I am not all I was meant to be.  I am not completely loving, not totally selfless. My character is still in formation. At 65 years old, I still wonder who it is I truly am. Who I am meant to be in this last phase of my life.

I have one name – Cheryle.  It translates to “beloved.”

I still have work to do before I can be known as simply “love” itself.

Mary, Mother of God, pray for me.

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90 Day Challege: Interrupted, Day 2

Today was interrupted because I am a. still not feeling well because I am waiting on the delivery of the special antibiotic ordered by my dr Friday and b. because I needed to read a book on works of mercy for a class I was supposed to lead tonight.

The book offered little insight, as my parish is already very active in carrying out Matthew 25: 35-40 :  “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,36naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’37Then the righteous* will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?38When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?39When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’40i And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’” (Laudate-New American RE Bible).

Only one person showed up for this last class: just as well, as I am not certain what I would have said about charitable works we are already engaged with.

I am sure I would have gone off on one of my jags about the concept of purgatory  again.  A convert for the past ten years, it is one of the few Traditions I have difficulty reconciling with my view of Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross.

If he suffered such agony to atone for my sins, why do I have to wait to be purified in some Middle Kingdom when I die to be made more perfect to meet God face to face?

Jesus’ sacrifice was already made perfect on my behalf.  It makes no sense to me that I should have to then shed my last vestiges of sin; did not his Crucifixion already do that? One death for all sin, for all time.

Otherwise, what was the point?

I have still not had a priest explain this satisfactorily to me.  Sometimes I get close to finding an answer I think I can live with, only to have to crumple it up and toss it in the wastebasket like a poem that starts out sounding beautiful but ultimately makes no sense.

I spent the rest of the day in a commiserating phone call with my next oldest sister (the joys and pains of home ownership); a phone call with another friend about plans to get together next weekend; and a couple of decades old movies I had seen only once before but still remembered “who did it” and “why.”

While doing the latter, I multi-tasked playing a board game puzzle where my score is now over a million points.  And I fed the cat. Many, many times.

Poor thing, it is not her fault.  Old age and kidney issues have made her appetite fickle.  Since she had “kitty dialysis” yesterday, her appetite was up today.  And she must have had her fill, for tonight she is abed and content on my lap, something she doesn’t do as much any more.

I no more want to think about her continuing decline than I want to think of purgatory.  And it isn’t just all dogs that go to heaven – cats, horses and other pets make it too, I am sure.  I don’t care what the Catechism says on the subject.  I subscribe to St. Francis of Assisi on such matters.

Oh yeah, I passed along Turnip 2020’s tweets to Donald Trump and other GOP leaders who have blocked the little red beet.  I am not sure why – Turnip 2020 seems clever and cute and not at all disrespectful.

My tweets have yet to be honored by Trump censorship.  Maybe I am using words that are too big.

As for Rudy Giuliani’s assertion to Chuck Todd today that “truth isn’t truth,” I refer him to Aldous Huxley:

”Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”

Oh, and one more caution for him and his client from “Straight Up and Dirty” author Stephanie Klein: “Tell the truth, or someone will tell it for you.”

And a final thought all mine:

Omarosa. Has. Tapes.

Peace out and goodnight, moon,

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90 Day Challenge: Day 36 – Superior Ideal

“As a man must be born before he can begin to lead his physical life, so he must be born to lead a Divine Life. That birth occurs in the Sacrament of Baptism. To survive, he must be nourished by Divine Life; that is done in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.” Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

For many years before I joined the Church, I spent my Saturday nights attending the Vigil Mass with my elderly friend, Vera.

She was like another mother to me and had come to live with me and my son in our home as he began attending college.

I was already a “generic” Protestant Christian; but I did not have a home church at the time.  I had been baptized, had my “born again” and several other “evangelical” experiences.

Secure I was already “saved,” it did not bother me to take her to weekly Mass, from which we would usually venture out to dinner ( Red Lobster was her favorite) and a movie or some shopping.  It was all in a Saturday night.

But a strange thing happened to me as I sat in the back, on the right side of the St. Pius X sanctuary on those Saturday nights.  I began to develop a great longing to join the line of people going to the altar for Communion.

Every week that passed, the desire grew stronger and stronger.

I had always especially enjoyed the times in Protestant churches when a version of Communion was celebrated, usually at Easter.

But the more Masses I attended, the more I came to believe those times were too infrequent and pale fruit juice and cracker imitations of true Communion.

I could tell there was something deeper and more reverent occurring in those Mass Communions than I had ever experienced…and I wanted whatever “it” was.

When I finally was confirmed a Catholic in 2008 after nearly a year of required study and preparation, I found  “it” to be an intimacy with Jesus I had not experienced before.

Partaking of the consecrated Host and wine was to literally take Jesus within me, sharing his lifeblood with my own, incorporating his body into mine.

I came to realize it is the closest I could be to him and still be here on earth.

Later study would bring me to a greater appreciation of the transformative moment on the altar when the priest lifts the Host and wine, intoning the words “Through him, and with him and in him, O God almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, forever and ever.”

Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, refers to this as “supercommunio,” or the high point of the Mass.  It is a “supercharged” moment in his writings, where heaven and earth come together through the invocation of the priest so that Christ becomes bodily available to us – the moment just before his real presence comes to us through celebration of Communion.

As I said, that is a moment of intimacy for me unlike any other I experience. It is the concentrated and consecrated Christ in us.

I do not think, when he broke bread and wine and gave it to his disciples at the Last Supper, that Jesus ever meant us to partake in the occasional, fruit juice pale imitation of remembering him.

I believe he wanted us to remember him with the fullness of faith and the fullness of his presence, in that moment and all the moments in between.

This is the Mass. This is The Eucharist. This is the Superior Ideal.

“When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your Death, O Lord, until you come again.”

 

priest holding hostia
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