As I wabble down the ever shorter path to my next portal in life, passing from life to death, I become more aware of how the Scriptures are pertinent to who I am now and how the words of Scripture feel as well say or read them. It is particularly true when I read the Psalms during the Liturgy of the Hours. These words inform my need for intellectual stimulation and the desire in my heart to be one with Christ. Saint Augustine said it so well: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” More and more, as I sit on a park bench in the dead of winter and wait for Christ to sit next to me, the thought of my heart resting next to the heart of Christ is the joy that I have never experienced before. This heart-to-heart can happen anytime, such as when I go to Walmart to pick up my heart medication or sitting alone in the silence and solitude of Good Shepherd Chapel in Eucharistic Adoration. The effect is the same–I begin to experience what it means to share my Lord’s joy.
As I continue to make sense of what life throws at me each day, one thing is constant, in a world beset by hatreds, jealousies, envies, factions, false gods, and those seeking their own pleasure at all costs. I have discovered the Christ Principle, the very energy of God, although I neither know what that is nor am I capable of any rational definition. I can only attempt to describe what I feel when I am allowed to sit next to Christ on that park bench and just be what my nature intended. I realize ever more clearly that God doesn’t fit into my agenda nor preconceived notions of what I need, but rather, as an adopted Son (Daughter) of the Father, I can only sit in the presence of Christ and hope that the Holy Spirit answers my prayers to have mercy on me, a sinner. I sit on that park bench every time I have in me the mind of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5) when I realize that I must make an effort on my part to be present to Christ because He is always present to me. Eucharist becomes an occasion of joy for me as I feel the presence of Christ (based on the capacitas dei or extent to which Christ grows in me and my false self shrinks). All occasions to practice the Cistercian practices that lead to the charisms of humility, true obedience to the will of God, openness to the Holy Spirit in all I meet, discernment of evil where it exists, and my attempts to flee from it, all these are foretastes of heaven. Heaven begins each day as I seek God in whatever way He presents Himself. I can’t hide from the Hound of Heaven. Read the poem by Francis Thompson. It is a masterpiece. anymore.https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/english/currentstudents/undergraduate/modules/fulllist/second/en227/texts/thompson-hound.pdf
If joy, in the human sense, is good, then how do we deal with suffering, discomfort, death, cancer, heart problems, alcoholism, drug addiction, mental illness, intermittent explosive disorder (https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17786-intermittent-explosive-disorder#:~:text=Intermittent%20explosive%20disorder%20is%20a,of%20proportion%20to%20the%20situation), or when love hurts to give it to others? Fortunately, we have the Saints to help us with examples of how to cope. We have the very life of Christ itself that gives us the energy to overcome the “thorn of the flesh,” as Saint Paul describes it in II Corinthians. Read this challenging passage and try to FEEL what St. Paul is telling you through the Holy Spirit. Commentaries I read suggest that “thorn in the flesh” most likely describes pain that comes from dealing with difficult people, as in “pain in the butt.”
Christ is our role model for love that hurts. I keep going back to my favorite Scripture passage. Read Philippians 2:5 with the idea of feeling what Christ felt for us as he knew he was to suffer, die, and rise from the dead in expiation for the sins of us all. Can we do no less?
Plea for Unity and Humility.*
did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped.*
taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness;*
and found human in appearance,e
becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.*
and bestowed on him the name*
that is above every name,g
every knee should bend,*
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,h
Jesus Christ is Lord,*
to the glory of God the Father.