Art of Love

As I opened my Breviary this morning I realized that this was a sort of special Good Friday (as if Good Friday wasn’t special enough). Today, is March 25th, and if it wasn’t Holy Week we would be celebrating the Solemnity of the Annunciation, the feast of the incarnation of our Lord. As I reflected on the import of the symbolism that the day of His death is being celebrated on the day of His conception it brought me back to the early representations of the manger scene.  In those paintings and other artworks[1] you could see Jesus in the swaddling bands that also were used in death.

Here is a powerful lesson in just what our Lord came to do.  He had a mission and that mission is each of us. But I fear that this understanding and appreciation of what God did for us and what we mean to Him has been faded in the past 100 years.  Does our Lord’s passion impact us as it should? And when I say ‘us’ I mean ‘me’ first and foremost.

I pray that this year I can open myself up to the greatest act of love ever. I pray that this year I can allow the grief of what I did to our God to bring the sting it should; and the overwhelming wave of unworthiness and joy explode in my heart for His 33 year act of love for me.

I wish the same for each of us.

Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

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[1] Such as:
The Nativity with the Prophets Isaiah and Ezekial, 1308-11 by Duccio
Nativity by Jacopo Torriti
Nativity Scene Fresco (1310) by Giotto Di Bondone
Stained Glass at St. Denis Basilica in Paris (ca 1100s)
Madonna and Child (1319) by Ambrogio Lorenzetti

Light and Healing

Throughout the year, indeed our lives, we have felt the effects of loved lost. By betrayal, by distance and most intensely by death, our lives have felt pain – the pain of loss.  It is intense, it is real and though when it is fresh and acute we can’t see it; later we have the chance to try and come to terms with the fact that it is part of love. The pain would not be so great if love wasn’t involved. However, the only way to not feel this pain is to never love – that is numbness and a life wasted. But, why would God do this to us? Why would God allow love to have pain? I have no wise and comforting answer, I can’t really understand it either.

But, tonight, from within our hearts we look down upon Love incarnate. We look upon Love Himself born a babe. Tonight, if we allow it; we can, to some degree, understand what love means. Tonight, if we allow it, love will spread throughout our worn and tired bodies. Tonight, if we allow it, love can radiate from us into this darkened world. Tonight, if we allow it, we can be refreshed and confident that love, in spite of the pain that can accompany it, is the best of all emotions.

Brothers and sisters, especially those in the clutches of the pain of loved lost – take heart – Love has come to heal. Feel the warmth of His light; then spread the light of love throughout our lives and to those we meet. It might seem that the little light that we can radiate gets absorbed into the darkness with no effect but that is not true; the world is a little brighter, imperceptible to us, but brighter anyway. With every display of love, the darkness gets that much lighter – darkness can’t remain – dawn comes!!

Love is here, the question is; will we allow it (Him) to heal us? Allow Him! We owe it to ourselves, to those around us, to the world, and especially to He who loved us first.

Don’t try and embrace the darkness – dawn is here!!

Merry Christmas!

Willing the good of the other, as other.

Yesterday, while walking through the grounds of the Shrine of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, in Munster, I was struck with the thought that amidst all the beautiful trees and lovely paths there were monuments of horror: a memorial of St. Maximillian Kolbe with barbed wire on representations of concentration camp fence posts.  A monument to Blessed John Paul the Great that showed him kneeling with a rosary and as if he were painfully carrying the problems of the world on his shoulders.  The Stations of the Cross; the Tomb – all representations of either pain, horror, destruction, or cruelty.  And yet we are to believe that this faith we hold dear, this path of Christ is the way to love, indeed is love.  How?  How can we absorb this and make it our mission as well?  How can these representations lead us to understanding?

Last night, while listening to the first episode of Fr. Barron’s New Evangelization series, I caught a phrase he used in a discussion with an auxiliary bishop of Sydney Australia.  He was discussing what our mission, as followers of Christ is, and they were talking about the banal vision that many have about Christ and his mission – specifically what is love.

Father Barron said ‘love is not a feeling or a sentiment, a private subjective conviction. Love is willing the good of the other, as other.’  And his discussion pointed out why dogma, why what we believe is so important to how we live.  And his discussion, indeed dogma, is reinforced by the statues and memorials we place in our houses of worship and other sacred sites, even our homes.  We are reminded that when we ‘will good of the other, as other’ we are stepping outside of ourselves and offering, unconditionally, to someone else what Christ offered to us.  If we allow ourselves to turn away from these beliefs, these dogmas, the truth our actions become in fact what Fr. Barron said love wasn’t: ‘a feeling or a sentiment, a private subjective conviction’ and our actions become first and foremost about me.

Our mission in life is to radiate the joy of faith; faith in a God that loves purely, and by doing so offered everything he had to help us, for no other reason than it would be for our good.  When we go about the world, we need to bring the faith to those we meet, the full faith, not a warm, fuzzy, happy faith without the challenges of pain and suffering.  We bring the actions of Christ, and we celebrate those actions by imitating them, making them our own actions.  We don’t echo modern thoughts that as long as you view yourself as loving you are loving person.  Because love, true and perfect love has a face, it has a logic, it is the logos, it is God.

The monuments that we hold dear show horror, pain, cruelty to those who are still within themselves.  If we allow God to enter our hearts then a vista opens up before us, a vista of clarity, opened with the key of dogma; that brings us the true meaning of these monuments, a vista of love;   not the love of sentiment, but of will – the will of God.