Wednesday, January 12, 2005

All things new

All that was lost, restored,
in every wall a door,
a knot untied,
the flaming sword extinguished.


I had pierced Him with
coldness and thorns,
sending Him away into the darkness,
clothed in silence and Blood.

Today He returned
and smiled upon me: Shalom!
I touched His hands,
placed my hand into His side,
kissed the wounds my eyes could not see.

He placed them within me,
thorns of joy softened with His Blood.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Good night, good death.

Why did God make us to grow tired and sleep each day? Perhaps in part He formed in us a daily reminder that we must die, that we must finally lie down and pass from this passing earth. Our hands must surrender the burdens and momentary joys that so consume us while the light remains. For night comes, when no man can work.

Each day is a life, whose fate depends upon crossing the threshold of sleep in the friendship of Him Who raises and lowers the curtain of day. The sun sets, the eye closes, the hand opens in farewell to the sinking shore of a dying world. Ahead, for him who has kept the promise of that red and terrible morning, a King awaits: "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master's house."

This morning I awoke with the world to that red and terrible morning. But some awoke in a different land. Someday we shall follow ...if we shall follow.

We'd better do it now.

Wanna get to heaven? Got some sins you're kind of attached to that you figure you or God will get rid of later? Let's think about that.

So there's a sin that's especially tough to kick. It's your "favorite" sin, because you keep having to confess it. You mean to turn your back on it, but you honestly suspect (or know) that you don't feel like eliminating it totally right now. Perhaps you assume that when you're older you'll be wiser, more virtuous, and will be able to kick it. Certainly by the time you die, you'll be able to turn away from it. If not then, a little stay in Purgatory will be sufficient to make you relinquish your remaining attachment to this sin. In any case, you've got your foot in Heaven's door, right?

Better think again.

If you've struggled with this sin for so long already, you can't know you'll ever be more able to reject it than you are right now. And on your death bed -if you hope to repent of it there- what makes you think you'll be able to do so sincerely, knowing that throughout life you cynically planned a "deathbed conversion"? Obviously an insincere conversion is not much of a conversion. Is it good enough? Feel lucky?

And Purgatory. Knowing that it's only for people who have actually died in God's friendship, free from mortal sin, this places a rather heavy responsibility upon us to make sure we don't fall into the sort of sin that will keep us from abruptly or gradually severing friendship with God. Even if we die in God's friendship, but without having fully turned away from our "favorite sins", what will it take to make us finally reject the poison and give ourselves totally to God, if we don't do so in this life? What sort of suffering, how terrible an understanding of our sin must we have? Must we see the ruinous shot of our sin defile and wreck and the pages of history until the collapse of time? Better to relinquish now our favorite sin while suffering is only part of a momentary life, than to require purification whose intensity and duration are not limited by the low ceiling of this mortal life.

If God wants us to "be perfect", as our Father in Heaven is perfect, it can only be because this is far, far better than our sanctification being completed after death. Have confidence in God's mercy, and in His ability and desire to save. But do not expect that what God demands of us in this life can be deferred without great danger and enormous cost.

Most importantly, have confidence in the ability of God's grace to help us truly abandon sin, even if many falls and much effort are required. God does not require the impossible.