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Gazing on Reality

The reality of the pandemic cannot help but hang over our daily lives. During hard times, however, it can be consoling to remember that pain and sorrow do not have the last word.

We might listen to the words of Josef Pieper, who speaks of the loving gaze of contemplation and the intuition of the “divine base of all that is.”  He goes on to say “that in spite of all appearances, underlying all things is—peace, salvation, gloria; that nothing and no one is lost; that ‘God holds in his hand the beginning, middle, and end of all that is.’ ”*

Yes, along with the grief and the sorrow, which we do need to honor, there is a deeper reality.  Even in the midst of the pain of daily life, God is working in all things for good (see Romans 8:28). God is working for good in our own lives. God does not desire sorrow for us, but when it comes, whether it is completely undeserved or even brought about by our own actions, God is present and working with creative and transformative love.

O God, open our eyes and our hearts,
that we may glimpse your transforming love
in our own lives
and in the world as a whole.

I sought the LORD, and he answered me,
    and delivered me from all my fears.
(Psalm 34:4)

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* Happiness and Contemplation, trans. by Richard and Clara Winston (South Bend: St. Augustine’s Press, 1998), 84-85. (The words in single quotation marks in the citation are from Plato, Laws, 715 e.)

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Welcoming the New

We caHappy New Yearll January 1st "New Year's Day." Why?

Because it is the first calendar day of the year, of course. 

But does the calendar make it fully new, or can we look for more than just a paper measuring time and marking dates?

 Aware of the gift of time and the invitation to the aliveness God gives us, we remember the words: "See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?" (Isaiah 43:19)

What is the aliveness and new thing to which we are called in 2021?

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Eyes to See

 

One day this autumn, I was walking along the sidewalk not far from our house and was astonished to see, here in the big city, a single flower growing out of a crack in the concrete. It seemed to me a reminder of the love and beauty always present in us and for us, even when all around us appears to make that unlikely.

A couple of days later I walked by again, and it was gone. There was nothing left of either the blossom or the plant.  It wasn’t that it had just withered and remained there. I wondered if perhaps someone else had been heartened by it and had picked it. Or perhaps, worse, someone had simply pulled it up, reasoning that it didn’t belong there.

But in a way, that flower is always there for me now. It still speaks to me of beauty and love  — at least when I have eyes to see and a heart open to receive.

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Peaceable Kingdom

The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
(Isaiah 11:6-9 NRSV)

Buddy and Ada holding paws

 

 

 

 

Buddy and Ada Holding Paws
– Photo by John Hoover

 

Isaiah’s beautifully poetic prophecy concerning the reign of the Messianic king foresees a world where all creatures live together in peace. But we might well ask: Is this age of peace, of harmony, of love among God’s creatures solely the responsibility of the Messiah? Do we human beings have no role to play in bringing about the peace and love described here?  Are we just to carry on business as usual—making war, damaging the environment on which we depend, hurting ourselves and others in multiple ways—in the conviction that there is nothing we can do now to bring about that time when there will be no more hurting or destroying?

On the contrary, if we are to live in the Spirit of Christ, if indeed it is true that we ourselves are called to “become participants of the divine nature” (1 Peter 1:4), then the peace that Christ brings must in some way be present in our relationships with each other and with God’s creation.

So we might ask: What small step can I take now to witness to that future when there will be no hurting or destroying in God’s creation? How can I allow God to work through me to hasten, even in a very limited way, the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea”?

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Created Good

Robin on nest in Cenacle courtyard

God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.
(Genesis 1:31)

“It was very good.” All creatures are good and valued, including ourselves who are made, amazingly enough, in the divine image.

We are told that God’s “compassion is over all that he has made” (Psalm 145:9).  As we live and love from the life of the One in whose image we are made, we too have compassion for the creation God proclaimed good.

__________

Photo: Robin on nest in Cenacle courtyard, by Sr. Rose Hoover

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