a world transformed

Happy Easter Monday!

One of my theology professors used to refer to Christians as “Easter People”. Which we are, of course, since the death and resurrection of Christ are the founding events of our faith. But what does it mean, really…what are the implications for our everyday lives?

It means that we are never without hope. It means that all creation is redeemed and sanctified. It means that the final goodbye of death is, in reality, not forever, that Christ by his rising from the dead has forever conquered death, that although we may be parted from our loved ones for a time, someday we will be together again. It means that we have faith that our final destiny is to live forever with God, that our death is, in fact,  a homecoming. And it means that we are loved, infinitely, amazingly, wonderfully loved by God, in manner far beyond our limited human comprehension.

So the question remains: How do we live our lives in response to the Easter event? I think it was C.S. Lewis who said that the serious business of Christianity is joy. Joy because our world is forever transformed, that no matter how ugly the news is, no matter how awful the presidential race becomes, we know that ultimately we are redeemed, that God calls us each by name. It doesn’t mean that it’s wrong somehow to feel sadness, grief, anger, discouragement…all normal human emotions. It certainly doesn’t mean it’s some kind of sin to suffer from mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. It simply means that we understand that loss and grief, trauma, physical pain and illness,even evil, don’t have the last word; the God who loves us each beyond our wildest imaginings and who never leaves us does. So how can we possibly, if we really believe what we say we do, live our lives in any other way but in joyful, hopeful gratitude?

Easter

Break the box and shed the nard;
Stop not now to count the cost;
Hither bring pearl, opal, sard;
Reck not what the poor have lost;
Upon Christ throw it all away:
Know ye, this is Easter Day.

Build His church and deck His shrine,
Empty though it be on earth;
Ye have kept your choicest wine–
Let it flow for heavenly mirth;
Pluck the harp and breathe the horn:
Know ye not ’tis Easter morn?

Gather gladness from skies;
Take a lesson from the ground;
Flowers do open their heavenward eyes
And a Spring-time joy have found;
Earth throws Winter’s robes away,
Decks herself for Easter Day.

Beauty now for ashes wear,
Perfumes for the garb of woe,
Chaplets for dishevelled hair,
Dances for sad footsteps slow:
Open wide your hearts that they
Let in joy this Easter Day.

Seek God’s house in happy throng;
Crowded let His table be;
Mingle praises, prayer and song,
Singing to the Trinity.
Henceforth, let your souls always
Make each morn an Easter Day.
(Gerard Manley Hopkins)*

*Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889) was a Jesuit priest and English poet

hipstamaticphoto-480896097.004639-1

God’s laughter

 God’s laughter emanating from the sky

LAUGHTER CAME FROM EVERY BRICK

Just these two words He spoke
changed my life,

“Enjoy Me.”

What a burden I thought I was to carry–
a crucifix, as did He.

Love once said to me, “I know a song,
would you like to hear it?”

And laughter came from every brick in the street
and from every pore
in the sky.

After a night of prayer, He
changed my life when
He sang,

“Enjoy me.”
(St. Teresa of Avila, 16th century mystic, saint, and Doctor of the Church)

Andrew Greeley on the Catholic Imagination

Here I am rebloging again, but this Andrew Greeley article on “The Catholic Imagination of Bruce Springsteen” is too good not to share. This is my vision of Catholic Spirituality! Andrew Greeley and The Boss!

Homespun

On the Relationship between Religion and Imagination

 The imagination is religious. Religion is imaginative. The origins and the power of both are in the playful, creative, dancing self.

(The Catholic Imagination of Bruce Springsteen)

On the Uniqueness of the Catholic Imagination

 A word about the Catholic imagination: Unlike the other religions of Yahweh, Catholicism has always stood for the accessibility of God in the world. God is more like the world than unlike it.

(The Catholic Imagination of Bruce Springsteen)

The objects, events, and persons of ordinary existence hint at the nature of God and indeed make God in some fashion present to us. God is sufficiently like creation that creation not only tells us something about God but, by so doing, also makes God present among us.

(The Catholic Imagination p. 6)

Catholics live in an enchanted world, a world of statues and holy water, stained glass…

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spiritual? relgious? both? none?

St. Peter's Basilica at Early Morning
St. Peter’s Basilica at Early Morning (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It has been all over the internet–and my theological journals too–recently, that a large percentage of so-called Millennialsdon’t identify with any religion at all, and the new classification assigned by pollsters is “none.”  This makes me, a Gen-Xer, very curious. I have to admit that as a “Cradle Catholic” and product of Catholic schools the concept is quite foreign to me.

I do understand being disillusioned with the Catholic Church, especially over gender issues and the ongoing sex scandals. But for me, the closest I came to leaving was talking to a friend about becoming an Episcopalian, an inquiry I abandoned once Pope Francis was elected (I really love him). Although I am not a perfect Catholic (the phrase “Cafeteria Catholic” fits in certain ways–but then it does for most Catholics on either side of the spectrum) I can’t imagine believing in God and not being part of a faith community, despite the flaws inherent in any institution run by imperfect human beings. And for me, I’ve always found the dichotomy between spirituality and religion a false one; after all, any study of the great mystics and spiritual leaders throughout history shows that many, if not most, belonged to a church community.

But I want to hear about your experiences, too. What do you consider yourself, faith-wise? I regret using labels for such a huge part of our human experience, but for now it will have to do. Do you reject all organized religion, and if so, why? Do you consider yourself a spiritual person, or do you want nothing to do with any of it (in which case it is highly unlikely you are reading my blog, but one never knows)? Please, I invite you to share your story. I promise I won’t proselytize or preach. I just want to understand better.

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