Friday, April 26, 2013

"Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. - 1 Thessalonians

Some follow up thoughts...

"I go to prepare a place for you...

"You know the way that leads to where I go...

"Follow me...

"In my Father's house there are many dwelling places..."

All of those things Christ said to his disciple before the Ascension.  Christ, who came down from heaven and met these men in the ordinary circumstances of their lives.  He, who lived amongst them, shared their life, speaks to them, assuring them that in his Father's house there are many dwelling places.  There is room for them because he goes ahead of them to prepare a place for them, for us.

He meets us, loves us where we are at, just as we are.  He can change our hearts - right where we are... as is. 

I love how the Holy Father said the new Pope, and perhaps by extension, ourselves, must go out to the 'existential peripheries', to evangelize the fringe.  What that means for individuals may vary, but it makes me think of several off-beat saints - canonized and uncanonized.

So let us go out to him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace he bore... - Hebrews 13

I often think of St. Therese who once wished she could live amongst prostitutes in a brothel so that she could show them the merciful love of God. Likewise I consider St. Simon Salus, who left the desert to live amongst the outcasts, criminals, and whores, to demonstrate the love of God, to be a sort of presence of merciful love amidst the unlovable. How could they do that if they spent all of their time condemning the sin and sneering and scoffing at the sinner?

As I mentioned, St. Simon Salus left the desert to live amongst prostitutes and outcasts in Syria.  Stories such as his from the desert fathers captured the heart of Little Therese, discovering in the simplicity of their lives, the compliment to the doctrine of her 'little way'. One story I love is something she once confided to one of her novices, Marie of the Trinity:
"To help me accept a humiliation, she once confided to me: 'If I had not been accepted in Carmel, I would have entered a Refuge (for fallen women) and lived out my days there, unknown and despised among the poor penitents. I would have been happy to be taken as one of them, and would have become an apostle among them, telling them what I thought of God's mercy.'" - Therese By Those Who Knew Her
Like a tabernacle or a chapel in a bad neighborhood.

The Little Brothers and Sisters of Jesus and the Missionaries of Charity are much like that - they become the presence of Christ in a bad neighborhood.  Dorothy Day was like that.  Madeleine Delbrêl was too.

Christ can do all things if we ask with faith.  "O Lord, I want to return to the Church and the sacraments but I don't know how."  The Lord finds a way.  When I write about two men or two women living together, agreeing to renounce sinful relations and determining to sanctify their lives and return to the Church and the sacraments, I'm saying that Christ can accomplish for them even more than they ask or desire.  The Church does not lay burdens too heavy to carry on those who wish to be reconciled.  The Church calls homosexuals to freedom, to chastity, to holiness.  The Church does not dictate with whom and where a person must live. 

There are no obstacles to God's grace that cannot be remedied.

It is not good for man to live alone.  Some people can and do live together after quitting a sinful life, mutually agreeing to observe continence, chastity and celibacy, living as friends and brothers, they help one another to be faithful and holy.  One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is self control - God is generous and pours out his Spirit to those who ask.  "Where two or three are gathered in my name..." There can be a community of two or three or fifty, as in a large monastery.  God's grace is limitless. 

Mark asked Arsenius, 'It is right, isn't it, to have nothing unnecessary in one's cell? I saw a brother who had a few cabbages, and he was rooting them out.' Arsenius said, 'It is right, but each should do what is right for his own way of life. If he is not strong enough to endure without the cabbages, he will plant them again.'
Have faith:  Ask, seek, knock.  It will be opened for you.

Art: Japanese artist Tetsuya Ishida.  His art conveys isolation, anxiety, identity crisis, scepticism, claustrophia and solitude - the Christian life cannot consist in this.  Rather, "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." - Galations 5   "There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work." - 1 Corinthians 12 

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