Deacon Blog January 12, 2020
To Be…or not to be
I’ll say this, 2020 is very easy to write. I can only pray that this year goes as smoothly. Once again, it’s that time of year to evaluate. I’m not sure why that is, but it’s been done for millenniums so why question it now? I should just sit down, write my private assessments of what worked, and what didn’t, create a list of countermeasures or affirmations, and devise a “procedure” for doing better going forward. Right? Note !! If I was that organized, I wouldn’t make half the mistakes I make. I would schedule my prayer life, balance the checking account, and make a list of to-dos daily I could check off. I would list (a long one) the maintenance schedule for my house, friends I need to catch up with, and revise the work-out schedule I have (that obviously does not work). Aside from my prayer life, some of which is a requirement for clergy, everything else is subject to derailment at a moment’s notice. Missing from this list so-far are the obvious priorities of time with family, recreation (fishing), and, oh yeah, WORK. For the record, my work as a deacon falls under the heading of prayer life because it’s part of an on-going dialogue between me and the BOSS. Some things are just too specific, and too personal to dissect here (and you all have more interesting things to consider), but I would like to explore spiritual growth as an active, organic effort that needs to be nurtured and prioritized, and… evaluated constantly as a synthesis of our past experiences.
For me, little by little, certain themes keep finding ways to get noticed. They begin as small whispers in my life and wind up shouting until I notice them. I absolutely feel that there is no “age” limit on gaining this awareness, either (hypothetically, this process should be on-going right up to the moment we take our last breath). For me,they can be habits I have that I ought to change or character and personality traits I need to improve. They can also be perspectives I need, to deepen the sense of peace and joy in my Faith and life. Sometimes it’s an ideal as big as the awareness of virtues that should form the foundation of my life, things like honesty, courage, dependability, etc. In my experience they’re often ideas or theological concepts I skimmed over too quickly. I think we all do this when we hear certain teachings. We think we understand it, we reflect on it briefly, then shift our focus to other things that don’t challenge us quite as much. Catholicism, I feel, is substantially infused with such ideas. Some examples: The Eucharist as the real presence of Jesus, Original Sin as the “origin” of our poor choices, or the Holy Trinity as three “persons in one”. It could be the two thousand years of study and reflection the Church has produced (certainly not my lack of IQ), but the one that began “whispering” to me, four or five years ago now, is the mystery we know as the Body of Christ. Corpus Christi. We have heard this term all our lives as the mystical way in which we all become and participate in the life of Jesus. St. Teresa of Avila’s beautiful prayer states, “Christ has no body but yours. No feet, no hands on earth, but yours” sums up an essential perspective that is most often only “gently” considered by our intellects. If your awareness was like mine, it stopped right there, frozen in a mental image of being “parts” of an idea or icon we have of who Christ is. Digging further, is it an image of who HE Was, or who HE IS? Are we part of HIS memory or part of HIS Mission…ongoing and alive? The significance in this is obvious. Are we HIS hands swinging lifeless at HIS side, paralyzed by a lack of compassion and awareness, or…are we reaching out, firmly grasping opportunities to embrace others? Do our feet drag the ground, slow to aid those in need…or do they rush forward, swiftly coming to the aid of those suffering? This was where the “shouting” began for me. I remember reading comments from a non-believer who stated that “GOD had never answered his prayers or come to his assistance”. I thought to myself, “With almost two billion Christians in the world, how could this be?” That’s one or two Christians for every three or four people on the planet.
I began to see the teaching of Corpus Christi as the identity I lacked my whole life. We are not the “followers” of Christ in the common vernacular, we are the body of Christ tasked with HIS mission to continue to bring salvation to the world. HE is still the head, and thus the “wisdom and inspiration” of the outfit, but the reality is that real physical activity is required to accomplish this work. The “poor in spirit” need counseling and compassion, the “meek and humble” are to be noticed and included”, etc. No one is called to be an “observer” of Christ. Even atheists and non-believers do plenty of this. We do not spectate the life of Jesus, we participate in, and hopefully imitate, the life of the resurrected Savior who still has work to do. This awareness changed everything for me. And… it is a universal or Catholic calling for all who truly believe. The root Greek and Aramaic words for “believing” referred to being “assured or assumed” into the heart, that which is professed. When St. Paul refers to those who profess a devotion to Jesus Christ as HIS Body, he is speaking of a living, breathing presence in the world continuing the work (multi-plying it) of salvation until the “close of the days”. Jesus’ Assumption is actually HIM being assumed into every heart that believes. This “ordination” to ministry is obtained through Baptism and the Sacraments, and our Profession of Faith each week.
I ask you to give this serious reflection…with as much focus and attention you can give it. It is a foundational starting point for the “Temple of our Lord” being built within us. It was always there (before I recognized it), but now the “disks” were removed, like Paul, from my eyes and the true purpose of my existence was revealed. I learned I was born to serve, and… so will you. We are Disciples of Jesus if we believe. Nothing has ever given me more Joy and I pray for this to be your experience as well.
PAX CHRISTI, Deacon Mike
Comments, Questions, Random Thoughts?