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Jürgen Moltmann, in the last chapter of his book, Experiences of God,  writes:

"Finally, like the particular paths of the mystic and the martyr, everyday life in the world also has its secret mysticism and its quiet martyrdom. The soul does not only die with Christ and become `cruciform’ by means of spiritual exercises and in public martyrdom. It already takes the form of the cross in the pains of life and the sufferings of love. The history of the suffering, forsaken and crucified Christ is so open that the suffering, forsakenness and anxieties of every loving man or woman find a place in it and are accepted. If they find a place in it and are accepted, it is not in order to give them permanence, but in order to transform and heal them."

– Trans. Margaret Kohl (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007)

Loving God,
may I welcome the healing power of the cross
in the sorrows and struggles of my everyday life,
through Jesus Christ who loves me
and died for me.
Amen.

 

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The Word Became Flesh

The Nativity, Bartolomé Estebán Murillo, ca. 1665–70

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
And we have seen his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth. . .

From his fullness we have all received,
grace upon grace.
(John 1: 14, 16)

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Image: The Nativity, Bartolomé Estebán Murillo, ca. 1665–70
Original in the Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Full of the unexpected, Easter makes love real and concrete. Perhaps no place are the lessons of love more tangibly present than in the Easter events.

After the Resurrection, those gathered in the Upper Room—the Cenacle—locked themselves into the room in which they had shared the Last Supper with Jesus. They did not expect him to walk through those locked doors and give them the gift of peace. They did not expect that, but they did experience it. Neither did any of them anticipate that when they did not know what else to do—and so did what they knew, i.e., go fishing—Jesus would walk over water, join them and cook their breakfast with the fish they caught.

Jesus taught Peter, who had denied Jesus, to recognize and claim his love and forgiveness. Indeed he taught Peter to say, “You (Jesus) know I love you.” Easter invites us too to realize the power of his love and learn to receive it. May we also recognize and receive his very personal love for each of us, and hear the call to share it.

Easter also teaches us to rejoice. It is a feast that celebrates life and joy. Imagine, for example, what Mary Magdalene must have felt when Jesus called her by name. In the recognition she experienced she knew the kind of freedom that does not need to hang on (see John 20). Freed from any clinging, then, she was freed to do as he asked. Joy awakens the inner freedom that loves because of the other’s joy.
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Love Has the Last Word

In spite of all that may tend to discourage us, in spite of all we read in the newspaper or on social media, Goodness and Light are stronger than evil.

We need not fear, because we know that love has the last word.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:5)

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A New Heart

“A new heart I will give you,
and a new spirit I will put within you;
and I will remove from your body the heart of stone
and give you a heart of flesh.”
(Ezekiel 36:26)

Photo by Rose Hoover, rc (with the kind help of NASA)It is never out of season to pray for the promised new heart. Lent, however, gives us a special opportunity to focus on God’s desire to transform our hearts into the heart of Jesus.  Thus may we “become participants of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). It is a breathtaking thought, but true: God invites us to share the divine life. This is our call.

It has been said that we become what we contemplate. So this Lenten season, we may ask for the grace of beholding the beauty of Christ in our daily lives, realizing of course, that our vision is limited and our attention will often stray. But each time we are distracted let us turn back, allowing the Spirit to transform us, for we read:

“All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.”  (2 Corinthians 3:18)

__________

By the way, if you are in the Chicago area, you might check out the Lenten Retreat I will be leading the weekend of March 10-12. The theme is: “Resting in the Heart of God.” You can find information here.

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The photo, "Christ the Heart of the Universe," is by Rose Hoover, rc, with the help of NASA's public domain space images.

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Joy Out of Darkness
(The Easter season continues...)
 

When we consider the first Easter, we realize that Easter joy does not come like a cuddly bunny with brightly-colored eggs. Easter dawns bright, but out of the darkness of injustice, political oppression, torture, grief, and death. We might imagine, instead of flowers bought at Home Depot, our Easter lilies blooming out of flame.

Forever after that day of days, the reality of Easter is present whether or not we can perceive it, for it is intrinsic to our own lives and inherent in all of creation. Like that first Easter, it may more often than not be unnoticed, and it may be experienced, for now, in the context of pain. But the Day of Resurrection bears with it the presence of God who shares with us our own pain and sorrow, confounding common stereotypes of how the divine should act, and showing us that this God who is Mystery refuses to allow darkness to have the last word.

We are given hints of the presence of Christ risen—hints of that joy which surpasses the horrors of news reports and the sorrows of our own life. We are granted these hints, for example, in the longings that have been implanted in our hearts, those longings which on the surface may seem to indicate an absence: the longing for the More, the longing to see the face of God, the longing for union with God.

We have hints of the reality of Easter in the glimpses we are granted of goodness, of beauty, of love, of peace, indications of the Beyond that is already and always in our midst.

"Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb."

(John 20:1)

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“Lily Out of Flame” image by Rose Hoover, rc
Fractal flame created with Apophysis and edited with Photoshop
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Easter Hope


Do not be afraid
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”

(John 14:27)


“With its roots in the Abrahamic and prophetic traditions and its own singular revelatory experience of the risen Christ, the New Testament includes a hope-filled vision of the whole universe pervaded with divine promise.”

Elizabeth Johnson, Ask the Beasts



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Resurrection photograph (enhanced picture of stone entry at Castel Sant’Elia) by Rose Hoover, rc
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