Whatever’s Happening: Make it holy
It is wonderful to be alive in as
much as our true life is the life beyond; otherwise who
could bear the burden of this life if there weren’t a prize
for suffering, an eternal joy; how could one explain
the admirable resignation of so many poor creatures
who struggle with life and often die in the breach if it
weren’t for the certainty of God’s justice?…
My life is monotonous, but every day I understand
better what a grace it is to be Catholic. Poor unlucky
those who don’t have a faith: to live without a faith, with
out a patrimony to defend, without a steady struggle
for the truth, is not living but existing. We must never
exist but live, because even through every disappoint
ment we should remember that we are the only ones
who possess the truth, we have a faith to sustain, a hope
to attain: our homeland. And therefore let us banish all
melancholy that can only exist when the faith is lost.
Human sorrows touch us, but if they are viewed in the
light of religion, and thus of self-surrender, they are not
harmful but helpful,
He was twenty-four when he died, Pier Giorgio Frassati—having gained the wisdom of heart that takes most of us seven or eight decades…if we’ve been open to Grace.
I’ve been thinking—and therefore writing, about time of late. It’s a limited, precious resource: each moment unrepeatable. As in, the choice we make in this moment at this time could be life or death.
Perhaps. From the age of twenty, I was immersed in just that: Life or death, so maybe it’s an imprint- virtual, of course. In the critical care units where I worked my way through undergrad, then graduate school, moments were indeed filled with life or death.
But then again, maybe not. It’s impossible to miss the increasing numbers of sudden, unexplainable deaths in persons far younger than I am. So how many heartbeats have I/we left?
Not infrequently, I get more than a little anxious about how wisely I’m using the minutes and days of my life or the astounding gifts I’ve been given. And, of course, it’s Lent. Already the second Sunday in our six-week journey to becoming a better version of ourselves; more like what He had in mind when He thought us into being.
“How did you get here?”
asked my friend at breakfast last Tuesday. She meant, “How did an atheist transform to a daily Catholic Communicant?” I’m still not sure why I began my response with an abruptly salient incident that occured while I was in my doctoral program.
So appalled at what I’d done, I talked at length with my dissertation advisor about my inexcusable arrogance and rudeness to a Christian conservative politician (the antithesis of my politics at the time) at a dinner party the evening before.
I asked, more accurately begged, my advisor Steve, if it was plausible that all this disciplined study precluded a repeat of such ignorant, boorish behavior on my part. Looking back, I realized that I was seeking absolution from him—that conversation with my advisor was a confession of a type. Long before I was conscious of such a sacrament.
“I don’t know why I began with that awful memory…” and looked at my friend.
Barely blinking, Linda said in reply, “But aren’t these humiliating events the most effective teachers we can ever find?”
Indeed-Whatever’s Happening: Make it holy.
An online friend mused about the upheaval of her plans for a Lenten cenacle:
“On the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes…. I planned to make my deeper commitment to the Lord. Surely this day would be “set apart”. Well…after prayerfully making my deeper commitment early in the day, I had choir practice later that morning, Grandchildren in the afternoon, and a rare outing with my daughter in the evening.
I wondered, what just happened? My intentions had been so good.
I could blame the devil and human weakness for the busy-ness of my week. But I don’t like giving the enemy credit for anything. …”
Her words remind us that all our actions— even interruptions, can be the work of Grace, if we so choose.
And these days of Lent are jam-packed with Grace.
Pope Benedict’s reflection of Lent, 2011, recalls our Baptism, declaring these forty days to be indelibly linked to the Baptismal washing. A cleansing that eradicated our sin and purified our souls.
A particular connection binds Baptism to Lent as the favorable time to experience this saving Grace. The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council exhorted all of the Church’s Pastors to make greater use “of the baptismal features proper to the Lenten liturgy” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum concilium, n. 109). In fact, the Church has always associated the Easter Vigil with the celebration of Baptism: this Sacrament realizes the great mystery in which man dies to sin, is made a sharer in the new life of the Risen Christ and receives the same Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead (cf. Rm 8: 11). This free gift must always be rekindled in each one of us, and Lent offers us a path like that of the catechumenate, which, for the Christians of the early Church, just as for catechumens today, is an irreplaceable school of faith and Christian life. Truly, they live their Baptism as an act that shapes their entire existence.
The mighty here and now.
It’s the Feast of the Transfiguration as well as the second Sunday in Lent.
Our Christian journeys are a curious juxtaposition of contrition and joy: Hating our sins but secure in the knowledge that we belong to Him. Told to be perfect as Our Father in Heaven is perfect, we resolve each Lent, to become a better version of ourself. One that reflects the person our Creator had in mind when He conjured us. We travel up to the mountain top to hear, “This is my Son. Listen to Him.”
Maura Harrison’s poetic rhythm and metaphors describe our moment-to-moment choices to perfection.
Make Holy What is Happening
Bathing in beauty, richly rich,
God grants us gifts and gives us grace.
Do we receive? Or do we pitch
His wealth into a worldly place,
The reaping race, the maddening
Mundane, the mighty here and how?
“Make holy what is happening”
is prayer that pushes pout and brow
To sigh, to fiat, an exchange
That holds our harms so we relive
The offered offering. Let’s change
Our hurts to something that we give:
Small sacrifices, humbly hewn,
Our poverty, our graceful tune.
The Transfiguration of Christ