October 29, 2022

Imagine, if you will, Jesus waking up in the middle of the night, in a cold sweat, because he had just had a nightmare.  Imagine Jesus, shovel in hand, walking out to a nearby field, digging a hole, squatting and going to the bathroom.  Imagine Jesus getting a whiff of the perfume of a local beauty as they pass one another in the center of town.  Imagine Jesus alone, hurt and confused because he overheard a friend talking badly about him.  Imagine Jesus too tired to finish a journey and needing to make it a two-day trip.  Imagine Jesus getting second place as he raced other boys when he was a kid.  Imagine Jesus not hungry for what his mom cooked for dinner.  Imagine Jesus having a hard time falling asleep at night.  Imagine Jesus talking to his dad about sexual reproduction.  Imagine Jesus home from work fighting off a cold.  Imagine Jesus limping around the kitchen after accidentally jamming his toe into the table.  Imagine Jesus craving something sweet after dinner.  Imagine Jesus trying to stay composed as he fields complaints from a customer about some piece of furniture he had hand-crafted.  The more comfortable we are imagining Jesus in these scenarios, the more we will be able to accept that we too are children of the living God who brought us into existence and loves us just the way we are.  Ave Crux, Spes Unica.

October 22, 2022

We human beings are “need machines.”  While there is some truth to the hierarchy of needs – starting with food and shelter moving all the way up to self-actualization and purpose – our existential need is so much more profound.  Indeed, we need to be conceived in the mind of our maker, we need to be brought into history and time, we need to be born, we need to be situated in a culture, we need to be sustained, and we constantly need that next breath.  The image of the crucified Christ is an icon of authentic human need.  Vulnerable yet trusting, he exclaimed, “I thirst” (Jn 19:28), as if to say that when everything else is taken away, it is “need” that remains.  If we are not in touch with this core and vital exigence in ourselves, perhaps it is time to do some soul-searching:  Are we sitting on a cushion of false-security?  Has an accumulation of money prevented us from needing the living God?  Have we grown complacent after reaching our so-called goals in life?  Are we under the delusion that we have power and control?  Whatever the case may be, taking a risk on need will ground us, humanize us and help us to become ourselves, and any anxiety we have about our hierarchy of needs will give way to the sheer excitement of resurrected life. Ave Crux, Spes Unica.

October 15, 2022

I used to work with a guy who had a sign on the wall of his office that said, “Be Human.”  What was interesting to me is that the sign was posted in the spot where there had been a crucifix.  I initially wondered if it was some kind of political or ideological statement, but the more I pondered the sign, the more I came to understand how profound it really was:  Jesus, vulnerable, literally nude upon the cross, misunderstood and beaten up, yet perfectly at peace and trusting that all things do in fact work together unto good (Rom 8:28), is what my life looks like at its best.  It is therefore no coincidence that Jesus was crucified on the day before the Sabbath, the sixth day of the week, as if to symbolize the re-creation of human beings who were created on the sixth day (Gen 1:26-31).  At the moment of his death, Jesus exclaimed, “It is finished” (Jn 19:26), as if to signify that our human nature is not a finished product until it has been marked by the bold risk of surrender that is death.  The next time we are tempted to blurt out the phrase, “I’m only human,” after we stumble in life, let’s pause, look within, and remember that, by our humanity, we have been “crowned with glory and honor” (Ps 8:5) and that it actually takes a lifetime to “Be Human.”  Ave Crux, Spes Unica.

October 8, 2022

Is Attention Deficit Disorder really a fair way to label a person?  While many children are scolded for not paying enough attention in school or medicated so that they can be like the others, we seldom consider why their focus is withheld in the first place.  Could it be because the lessons are boring?  Or because the personalities are not engaging?  Or because the conversations are not interesting?  Or because the conclusions lack depth?  Indeed, if we allowed these prophets to speak – instead of scapegoating them in order to maintain the status quo – we would stand to learn much about the beauty and complexity of life beyond our comfortable societal parameters.  Perhaps Jesus, who set out on a meandering journey from his hometown to Jerusalem – absorbed in a combination of preaching, teaching and healing all along the way – would be the poster-child for ADD today.  Nevertheless, it is precisely his unwillingness to adhere to a legalistic system that privileged conformity to the law above all else that enabled him to reveal the mystery of it all.  Let’s therefore demand meaning and wonder in our human experience.  Let’s allow our senses to be filled with people, places and things that capture the imagination and remind us of life’s essential goodness.  Let’s make poetry, play and dance our way into eternity.  Ave Crux, Spes Unica!

“Pied Beauty” by Gerard Manley Hopkins

October 1, 2022 🌹

Consolations can be a stumbling block in the spiritual life:  things just keep working out my way, look how blessed I am, the fortunes are raining down, this special rosary of mine, these sweet feelings, but when the winds of life change – and they will – what is underneath?  Indeed, while the living God has a thousand little ways of getting us excited about our human journeys and nudging us toward the infinite, there is no substitute for that glorious risk and act of faith that actually gets us to step out into the unknown (Mt 14:22-33).  Our heavenly mother is constantly engineering opportunities for us to take flight.  Initially, we may feel comfortable in the consolation nest and indifferent to any other version of life.  Nevertheless, we will get to the point where either interior dissatisfaction or external circumstances will demand a decision of us, and when the time is right – oh how patient she is! – we will spread our wings and we will fly (Is 40:31).  She will thus become the wind beneath our wings and, as such, the one true consolation that lasts.  Ave Crux, Spes Unica.