In other tongues: Meditation on Acts 2:4

5/26/13
“and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:4
Does the Spirit do this to each of us in a unique way. If I think of speaking “in other tongues,” analogously, it could be applied to manifesting God in different ways, in each of our lives, in a form custom tailored to meet a particular need in the Mystical Body, the Church, the Kingdom of God. Indeed, if I look upon the special blend of charisms in the particular context of my life applied to my set of circumstances, I am indeed speaking “in other tongues” of God to the world around me…and to myself.
For the language is idiosyncratic, manifesting both a public and a very personal side. The public side speaks to those around me, and God provides me feedback in complimentary comments from others for the Good performed in which they are seeing God in action through his instrument, and in the effectiveness of my work, in which He has given “success to the work of our hands,” Ps 90, [though God’s judges “success” differently than I do, being judged on in terms of the evolution of the trifold Cosmic Kingdom, Triumphant, Suffering and Militant rather than the mundane temporal outcome] which follows as day the night, if God is doing the task, it is His “will be done.” Even the place often seems to exude the appropriateness of God manifesting His presence everywhere.

Personally, there is a sense of correctness, the rightness, aka righteousness, I experience, a sense of the serendipity of “our greatest longing meeting the world’s greatest need,” and the serenity, exuberance and energy and even of accomplishment, in applying myself to the task.

These personal charisms are, as George MacDonald commented, God’s gift of “a white stone upon which is inscribed a new name, which no one knows except the one who receives it.” Rev 2:17 It is unique to me, without parallel, an intimate token of friendship, the five or two or one talent which he entrusts to me.

However, prior to the stone, John sees God giving “to the victor…some of the hidden manna,” the food of life to which Jesus referred: “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work.” Jn 4:34. The utilization of the charisms feeds me spiritually and psychologically. Part of each cross is that this work, the call to evangelization, that harkens back to my “baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished.” Lk 12:50 And this evangelization through charisms is to be carried out, as St. Francis exhorts, “always; when necessary, use words.”

God, I pray through Mary in Christ that you enable me, through your gifts, to praise, reverence and serve you as I, the “just me,” should. Amen. Alleluia!!!

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Paul’s Conversion

Meditation following “Shame”, Spring Retreat, 2013

Paul, Paul,… why do you lack faith and trust in me, do not rely on me to care for you and sustain you, to have your back and lead you forward, to love you and cherish you, to give you all you are and all your gifts and to continue to give you the graces and mercy to enable you to do whatever I ask of you.  Be at peace.  Have faith.  Be My best friend and I will be with you through thick and thin.

It is hard for you to kick against the goad…it’s like the salmon swimming upstream against the rapids and dams and fish ladders, etc.  You have a easy yoke and a light burden.  I have made it so much more difficult and heavy by my totally unrealistic and illusionary envious comparisons, prideful judgments rather than being content, at peace with the me with which you have blessed me.

Who are you, Lord?…I have built up such a false image of me that I have a false image of you also, of your role in my life.  I do not believe that you truly mean all you say.  I have imagined, imaged you not as you are but as I wanted you to be, to conform to be, to box you in to my limitations.  You are not this figment of my imagination, my feverishly evil machinations.  You are YAWH, the I AM, Goodness, Truth, LOVE!  Help me, grant me your grace to let you be YOU, the almighty, the one, the True, Unconditional LOVE, who is all that I need, and give me yourself so that I may be all that I need in you, through you, with you.  Let me shed myself of my frailty, my timidity, my easily threatened ego…and use you as my bulwark, my defense, my shield,…or rather, let me progress to the point where I can be free from all such defenses and simply naked in your presence, trusting entirely on you.

I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. Like Paul, I am bewildered…He was persecuting the Way.  Jesus, in his mind, was long dead, crucified some years before.  Paul knew he never even saw Jesus, just heard the stories of him from the Sanhedrin and the High Priest, wild, exotic tales of miracles and madness, fantastic predictions of destroying the temple and erecting it again in three days, of telling people they must become cannibals, eating his body and drinking his blood.  There was even some who said that evil spirits spoke to Him when they went out at his word…all in an attempt to bring down the Law and all who abided by its commands…what further proof of his vileness, his insanity, his evil origins…..and now, this voice claimed to be Jesus, who both his fellow Pharisees and the Romans themselves testified was dead, that he, Paul, was persecuting Jesus…How incredible, how unbelievable….and this Jesus answered when Paul addressed Him as Lord…was He claiming to be…could He be…Paul had heard stories about the Jesus claiming that before Abraham was, “I am”…the outlandish, irreverent way he used, no assumed the very name of God…no one could have gotten away with such blasphemy in this life and not be suffering for his sins in Sheol…the only possible explanation which contradicts everything Paul ever thought or learned about Israel’s One and only One God, that stretches his imagination beyond anything he ever conceived, that annihilated all his preciously meticulously constructed his mental constructs, is that somehow, in some unexplainable way this Jesus and the Way were inextricably linked.

So much for that Paul.  As incredible as it may seem, I believe that Jesus is saying the same thing to me.  No, I have not caused the physical death or even detention of anyone even loosely connected to the Church, Christians, the Way of today.  But, in refusing to accept, be satisfied with, indeed, be thankful for the gifts of the Spirit as given, from baptism onward, by always hankering after others gifts or belittling them when I couldn’t have them, I not only sinned against the Spirit through envy and pride, but also diminished the good that Jesus could have accomplished through me, and may even have communicated my dissatisfaction to others in such as way as to be an evil influence on their own appreciation of their gifts.

Lord, forgive me for this.  It, unfortunately, is of such long standing that it is an engrained, or rather, entrenched, sinful weltanschauung from which I peer, squint-eyed, judging the passing world.  While the revelation of it is a gift beyond all measure, enlightenment is not embodiment, understanding is not comprehension, the mind is not the heart.  I need to grok this to the depths of my very being and arise, new, regenerated, spiritually reborn, i.e. reborn of the spirit, that I may cherish myself as you made me, treasure my gifts as you so generously bestowed them on me and utilize them for your praise and glory and for the salvation of not only my soul but the souls of all to whom you would send me.  For this, again, overwhelming grace, for this new Pentecost which throws off the chains of self-inflicted fear, erases the worn out beliefs of long outdated tape recordings and creates a new me, a me that is a shining new tool for you to build your kingdom…for YOU to build your kingdom, not me.  Amen. Alleluia!!!

“Active Indifference”

From notes of the Spring Retreat, 2013: Three Classes of Men

It is interesting to me that, in some respects, the third way, the way of “active indifference,” [aka detachment] is the easiest and the most difficult.  It is the easiest in that, at least initially, there is nothing external to do.  It is the most difficult in that it demands of me an initial and then continual commitment to remain “actively indifferent” to the holdings, loosely in the hand, as it has been described, and to actively listen for God’s guidance in what action to take.  The criterion is the better service and praise of the Divine Majesty.

Jesus was always “actively indifferent” to all things created, from his own mother, though he loved her above all creation, to social niceties of the company he kept, the people he touched, the sins he forgave, the diseases he cured, where he slept, what he ate, etc., etc. etc.  He simply not just had faith in but beyond that to a degree presumed and allowed His Father to provide for things that He, as the Son of God, could easily have done.

Mary was another chief exemplar of this type of indifference, her criteria being what was of the greatest praise and service to God, seeming to give up her virginity in the light of possible public and personal castigation, expressing her grief at the temporary absence of her son but being shown it was in the interest of the Father, being indifferent to what Jesus did with the information concerning the wine but knowing God would decide how she might best serve Him, acknowledging that hearing the word of God and keeping it was equal to being the mother of the Savior, staying at the foot of the cross and relinquishing her Son’s life which she had sacrificed to bring into the world, believing that it would be for the greater praise and glory and service of the Father to do so.

 

Shame

On the occasion of Spring Retreat, 2013:

The most difficult part for me is to truly desire humility through insults and wrongs leading to dishonor and shame, “provided only that I can suffer these without sin on the part of another, and without offense of your Divine Majesty.” [Principle and Foundation]

Dishonor and shame is something I experience inwardly every day.  It is the bravado of the external show that, in my feverish mind, “keeps me going.”  If I loose that semblance, that façade, fake and false as I know it is…which itself is the source of and feeds the dishonor and shame, I fear I will disappear, dis-integrate, become disparate parts without a center, without cohesion, without a me, or at least the one that I recognize as me.

This is something on which, in its destruction, the foundations of humility can be built. There is no sin on the part of another for it is an internal paradigmatic shift of under-standing of my being, of appreciation of what “God hath wrought,” of acknowledgement of the true gifts the Spirit has given me gratuitously, from His goodness and mercy, not the false appropriation of them to my illusionary self achievement.

There is no dishonor to your Divine Majesty, for this is the reality, the true picture, the untouched, unaltered photo of your goodness, your largess, your plan, your desire, your very self manifested in your creation, in me.  It is that of which I can, like Paul, boast, of Christ crucified, of the Spirit sanctifying, of the Father, indwelling.

Addressing this is a breakthrough, but it is still very tenuous and malleable.  Help it harden into reality from realization, into practice from a mere proposal, into my very self from a mental suggestion. I ask, I beg of you, Father, in the name of your only beloved Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, and through the prayers and pleadings of the whole court of heaven, that you grant me the grace, the strength of character, the firmness of will, the stamina of integrity to integrate this true understanding of myself, this acceptance of you as the foundation of my true being, my very self and that I have the courage, the fortitude, the energy, the sustained will, to discard these outmoded, false, malicious lies with which I have built an illusory “reputation,” a false self-image, a pseudo ego, that I have defended, nurtured and harbored within and about myself for all these years. With Mary’s prayers and the Spirit’s grace and guidance, Amen.  Alleluia!!!

“a mighty rushing wind”

Moore, OK. 51 confirmed dead from the monster tornado. 20 children. 2 forms of “a mighty rushing wind.” The first: a blessing, one of the greatest blessings every bestowed on the Church. The second: a killer tornado spreading devastation and destruction more than one mile wide across this town. I pray for the victims, alive and dead, of that tornado. How does one align these two occurrences.

First, we have to discard the mindset of man and take on the mindset of God. Then we have to remember that, with God, everything happens in the present, not only living and dying, but judging, mercy and salvation. Then, we have to cling tightly to the fact that God loves us with an overwhelming, unconditional, eternal and divine love. And to the second fact that the only thing He wants for us is to achieve our greatest happiness…and that happiness is not in this life, is not in things, is not in houses, is not in living a long life on earth…indeed, we call this the “vale of tears.” It is being happy, eternally and completely happy with Him, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, with Mary and all the saints, with the Angels…all together in Heaven. However, normally we would not, of our own accord, except in desperation and dispair, seek to leave this life. And He did tell us that he would return when we least expected it and hopefully find us, his stewards, on duty.
It is within this context that deaths, be they from natural tragedies or man-inflicted, are seen by God, the Church Triumphant and Suffering, and the Angels. We in the Church Militant are the ones out of the loop. We tend to see simply absence and loss from our perspective instead of presence and gain from the perspective of the loved one. If we took on their vision, we would be very happy, indeed ecstatic for their blessing. They have not evaporated; they have not left us. They have been taken into new life, new joy, new happiness, eternal life, eternal joy, eternal happiness.
In a sense, death is the ultimate aid to active indifference. This may seem crass and completely insensitive but it is true. We do suffer loss, great loss, great pain as God gently but firmly pries our clinging grasp away, giving the freedom of His sons and daughters to the son or daughter now able, through the merits of the crucifixion of His Son, join Him in Heaven. This is an inescapable, inevitable, wondrous door through which we must all pass if we are to gain eternal life.

But we see only the crushed bodies, the mangled arms, the unrecognizable heads, not the freed spirits, who, while they await the resurrection of those bodies, are now with their Creator, their Redeemer, their Sanctifier. We weep, as the poet said, for ourselves, our loss, our separation, our wound of release. And that is, in God’s providence, also healing. Amen. Alleluia!!!

“a sound” Acts 2:1

“A sound”  Acts 2:1 We normally don’t think of God as manifested in sound. Yet, like every other sense, God is there. The ancient Jews blocked their ears when God talked directly to them and begged Moses to speak to them instead. Elijah finally worshipped God in a still small voice. The Psalmist acclaim God’s might and power in a voice that breaks the cedars of Lebanon. The Angels announce and sing at Jesus Birth. The Word is spoken by God and is the Son and the Word, God’s Speech, becomes creation, and ultimately, becomes the God-Man.

God speaks only One Word…eternally, forever, and thus the sounds we hear each and every, the sounds all over the world, all over the universe, the symphony of the stars, the prayers of the saints, the pleas of the purged, the sighs of the sensient, are all the present syllable of that One Word. Unfortunately, because of sin, that universal syllable also echoes with the screams of the persecuted, the last gasps of the dying, the moans of the injured and ill, the lies of the deceitful, the mockery and curses of the evil, all of which Jesus heard and absorbed on the Cross for us. An eternal “Thank You, Praise You, Worship You, Serve You,” is the only appropriate, the only human, the only faith-filled response, though its inadequacy is self-evident. God himself, in praying “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani,” in inexpressible groanings, makes up that inadequacy for his beloved. Amen. Alleluia!!!

Saturday of the Seventh Week of Easter: Pentecost Eve

And now we wait. “you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:5   “Not many days from now” is a very fluid, indefinite time.

Jesus gave us a model of waiting; “He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man.” Lk 2: 51-52. Again, “My hour has not yet come.” Jn 2:4 The hidden life…20 years from age 12-32….a carpenter/builder/mason in a rustic, unimportant village of Nazareth. 7300 days of ordinary life when he knew in his heart: “I must be in my Father’s house?”

The disciples, Apostles and Mary have waited 9 days thus far, “devoting themselves to prayer,” “continually in the temple praising God.”

On the 40th day, reminding us of the year the Jews finally past into the promised land, Jesus ascended into the true promised land, the first born from the dead. Now we approach the 50th day, the day the Lord declared holy: “Then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD.” Lev 23:16. The harvest of the Kingdom has begun. The first grain offerings, the 120 gathered in the upper room, is ripe and ready to be an acceptable sacrifice to the Lord. And the world had descended on Jerusalem for the feast, and 3000 of them were ready for the harvest. Acts 2:41 And each one shall heard them speaking, God’s Call, in his own language. Acts 2:6,8

All this when the Hour of the Church has come! And the Church shall burst forth, never to be hidden again…the Treasure is found, the Pearl is opened. Mt 13:44-45

But today, an echo of Holy Saturday, we wait in silent expectation, even without breathing, in hopes of hearing His coming. Patience. “A thousand years in your eyes are merely a day gone by.” Ps 90:4. The clock has changed, we are all operating on God’s time now….Amen. Alleluia.