POPE BENEDICT XVI

Easter Light

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In my own dark nights, be with me to bring me forth! Help me, help all of us, to descend with You into the darkness of all those people who are still waiting for You, who out of the depths cry unto You! Help us to bring them Your light!   ~  Pope Benedict XVI

 

 

 

 

 

It is the Hour of Vigilance

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          Towards the end of May, my heart heard two summonses:

Rise!

Arise! Shine!

Those were the calls to action. I knew I was being told to do something. But what?

          A week later, the mists parted slightly.

Beloved, the end of all things is at hand. Therefore be serious and sober-minded so that you will be able to pray.   ~   1 Peter 4: 7-13

           Be able to pray. That was the call. The call to intercession.

          The moment I received it, on the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, when I had just asked for the spirit of atonement for myself, a feral wind blew, almost knocking me down. At church, someone I have come to distrust, came to me, slyly bearing a tale to trouble me.

          To lead me back to old wastelands the Angel had freed me from.

          It took me a week to overcome that Corpus Christi attack. By then, I had lost sight of the call to intercede. Even as I did continue to pray, the clouds had gathered and thickened over my spirit, and my vision was obscured.

          This morning, cleansed and nourished by the peace of wild things, a light returned. Sharp, clear, piercing to the core of my heart.

Stand before the Lord.

… let us be watchful with greater intensity… standing on one’s feet … expression of vigilance…be one who watches… stand guard before the relentless powers of evil… keep the world awake to God.

… be one who stands on his feet: upright in the face of the currents of the time. Upright in the truth. Upright in his commitment to goodness.

Standing before the Lord must always be, in its inmost depths, also a lifting up of men to the Lord, who, in turn, lifts all of us up to the Father.

And it must be a lifting up of Him, of Christ, of His word, of His truth, of His love… be upright, unwavering and ready even to suffer outrage for the sake of the Lord, as shown in the Acts of the Apostles: they “[rejoiced] that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name” (Acts of the Apostles 5:41).   ~ The Hidden Homilies of Pope Benedict, Holy Thursday, Chrism Mass, March 20, 2008

          I now understood the words my spirit had seen.

          Rise! Arise! – were summonses to return to the watchman’s post I had fallen from in my many weeks of struggles. 

          Shine! was the holy exhortation to keep my soul and the souls of my brethren pilgrims awake to God.

          And then, I remembered an old, old call. One that has returned repeatedly and insistently,

Flee to the hills.

How many times have I pressed the veil to yield its secret, to no avail. But today, in the morning hours scented by the rose~golds of freed breezes, I finally learned its meaning. Flee to the hills is heaven’s shout to me to run and shine the Light of God from the towers, high above the rocks and dunes of turmoil.

          For it is now the hour of vigilance before God.

 

 

 

 

 

Fire

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          I had become aware that I had been mentally and emotionally feeling the heat of a burning for the past two weeks. The fire of loss of a (destructive) friendship I have come to cherish (unfortunately). The fire of loss of hope in the workplace environment. And a few other little  fires burning here and there on the landscape of my spirit.

          I lamented these fires, sought heaven’s help to put them out. These were almost all old fires, and I had wearied of them. Most of all, I was tired of being who I was, someone in a near constant burn, always burning up in secret over something.

          And when I finally fell at God’s feet for mercy, asking for the respite of Joy for my burning, He told me,

Rise!

          A day later, when I had quietened myself somewhat, He continued,

Arise!  Shine!

          I saw it as a call to obedience, as a call to work. So, with the help of dear~heart friends who answered the Spirit’s summons to help me understand, I tried the live the new hours differently. I did not seek joy although I burned for it; instead, I sought His will in loving and caring for my family. I sought His will at my workplace in willfully searching out silence. Because in all of these abodes of quietness and simplicity and silence, lay the call to obedience, from which joy would flow.

          If I could just hold on long enough, that is.

          So, I took myself back to the vineyard again. But instead of the inner assurance I thought would come, I sensed that my spirit doors remained open.

          Late, late at night, when the moon~scented hours seemed to have nothing more for me, unseen hands turned my eyes towards a piercing teaching about Fire.

          “A Father of the Church, Origen, in one of his Homilies on Jeremiah, cites a saying attributed to Jesus, not contained in the sacred Scriptures but perhaps authentic, which reads: “Whoever is near to me, is near to the fire” (Homily on Jeremiah, L. I [III]). In Christ, in fact, there is the fullness of God, who in the Bible is compared to fire. We just observed that the flame of the Holy Spirit blazes but does not burn. And nevertheless it enacts a transformation, and thus must also consume something in man, the waste that corrupts him and hinders his relations with God and neighbour.

          This effect of the divine fire, however, frightens us; we are afraid of being “scorched” and prefer to stay just as we are. This is because our life is often based on the logic of having, of possessing and not the logic of self-gift. Many people believe in God and admire the person of Jesus Christ, but when they are asked to lose something of themselves, then they retreat; they are afraid of the demands of faith. There is the fear of giving up something pleasant to which we are attached; the fear that following Christ deprives us of freedom, of certain experiences, of a part of ourselves.

          On the one hand, we want to be with Jesus, follow him closely, and, on the other, we are afraid of the consequences entailed.

          Dear brothers and sisters, we are always in need of hearing the Lord Jesus tell us what He often repeated to His friends: “Be not afraid”. Like Simon Peter and the others we must allow His presence and His grace to transform our heart, which is always subject to human weakness. We must know how to recognize that losing something indeed, losing ourselves for the true God, the God of love and of life is actually gaining ourselves, finding ourselves more fully.

          Whoever entrusts himself to Jesus already experiences in this life the peace and joy of heart that the world cannot give, and that it cannot even take away once God has given it to us.

          So it is worthwhile to let ourselves be touched by the fire of the Holy Spirit! The suffering that it causes us is necessary for our transformation. It is the reality of the Cross. It is not without reason that in the language of Jesus, “fire” is above all a representation of the mystery of the Cross, without which Christianity does not exist.

          Thus enlightened and comforted by these words of life, let us lift up our invocation: Come, Holy Spirit! Enkindle in us the fire of Your love! We know that this is a bold prayer, with which we ask to be touched by God’s flame; but above all we know that this Flame and It alone has the power to save us.

          We do not want, in defending our life, to lose eternal life that God wants to give us. We need the fire of the Holy Spirit, because only Love redeems. Amen.”   ~   Pope Benedict XVI

 

          Like so many, I too wanted to be enveloped by the miracle and joy of Pentecost. Pentecost was fire, yes, but for me it meant the fire of inner light and jump and spring, the fire-power of special wisdom and vigour that I needed so badly to carry my Crosses.

          Not once did I associate it with a hidden burning away of my old self.

          In the dark of the quiet hours, I finally understood the fire I was sensing.