Friday, July 1, 2016

Flung In the Mud, and Trampled Underfoot

During the hour of Divine Mercy (3:00), I like to walk over to church and be with Jesus.  He’s my next-door neighbor.  As I’ve mentioned before, I can see the doors of the church that lead to the chapel and the Blessed Sacrament from my kitchen window.  (I know.  I’ve got it good.)  I go over and say my rosary and Divine Mercy chaplet for you, or Stations of the Cross before the Blessed Sacrament and let Him teach me.  Today I decided to sit in the main part of the church, a couple of rows back from the front, where I have a clear view of the tabernacle, and crucifix, the beautiful Divine Mercy portrait, and Our Lady of Grace.  While I was contemplating the Forth Sorrowful Mystery: The Carrying of the Cross, I focused on the fallen Jesus. 
To help me stay focused I sometimes imagine Him up before the altar, scourged and dejected, but today I thought of Him fallen in the dirt.  I pictured Him right there in front, right where the priest stands to distribute Holy Communion.  Ground down into the carpet.  Beaten down- with His gaze upward as if imploring help. 
I find it very interesting how that picture popped into my head as there have been two instances recently where that image has been a reality.  Two times within a week, during morning Mass- when I have looked up from prayer after receiving Communion- I’ve noticed a fragment of a Host on the ground where the Eucharist is being distributed.  This was completely by accident, of course, but it has made me ponder- not for the first time- the incredible depths to which our Lord will sink to make Himself assessable to His creatures. Literally. 
There are ignorant souls, who decide they don’t like the taste of a Host, so they discard it in the pews.  Those who receive Communion in the state of mortal sin.  People who don’t believe the reality that what they are receiving is actually and truly the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ.  And then the rare times when in distributing, quite by accident, a piece of this Holy Bread falls to the ground…
Ah, the lows He sinks for us.  We will never fathom the great depths until we are united with Him in Heaven.  My puny mind tries in vain to contemplate a love that is beyond my understanding.  
I’m amazed, as I think on it, because it isn’t a normal thing for me to check out the ground around the area of distribution, but on those two occasions, I did.  Perhaps I was tapped on the shoulder.  In the first instance, though, that gentle tap was not enough to get me to immediately act.  I waited.  I studied the tiny, white speck on the carpet from my vantage point in the second row and wondered if it could possibly be what I was thinking it was.  Then I got really nervous as the debate played out in my mind.  Stay put, and risk that the Sacred Host will get stepped on, or get up and disturb the blessed quiet of the moment, attracting unwanted attention to myself…
In the second occurrence I actually glanced up just as one half of a Host fell to the ground.  There was no mistaking that one, so I sprang to my feet immediately and stepped uncomfortably over the kneeling people in my way as I quickly made a beeline for that Host.   Let me tell you, I do not want to draw attention to myself and my mind frantically searches for ways to get out of the situation.  But just as potent is the real truth of that Real Truth.  It is Jesus.  It is Jesus, and I have to step outside the comfy box of safety and anonymity and help Him.  It certainly makes me stop and analyze my belief that those tiny fragments of what to any logical mind would appear to be a meaningless, white crumb- is in fact, God.  And I kinda feel like this tapping on my shoulder lately is a test for me, to see if I am willing and able to acknowledge Him for Who He is. 
Do I really believe?  And if so, to what extent am I willing to go to prove it?  Tough to ponder and the same questions could be asked of all of us.  Do we see Him in all the places He is thrown in the mud and trampled underfoot?  Is the Eucharist really the Source and Summit of our Catholic faith? physically as well as spiritually.  And with that, do we spend any time at all in making reparation to Him Who alone knows the depths He willing subjects Himself daily for this unfathomable love?       
It always makes me think of that verse from scripture that sums it up so powerfully: “I do believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).     

A Lack Of Obedience

               The old codger removed the corncob pipe from his mouth and shook it in the air for emphasis as he opined, “That’s the problem with young people today…” 
               We’ve all heard him, or her, ranting about the state of things, and frankly, I’ve always rolled my eyes when many in the older generation categorize the youth of the day into one disrespectful pile of dysfunction.  Over the years, I have come to the mindset that you are definitely going to get more flies with honey than vinegar and it gets on my nerves to see people speaking about things they know nothing about.  My tail feathers ruffle when someone passes judgement on another without even knowing them.  
               Maybe I think I’m “hip” or something- like I can relate to the plight of young people and their hang ups and issues.  But the problem is, I’m turning into one of those old people- and in the wake of our world seemingly turning upside down lately- I feel like I have something to say.  So hold on while I take my corncob pipe out of my big mouth and let the populous have it.       
               My saintly mother (God rest her wonderful soul), would always point out to me that parents are not instilling a proper sense of obedience in their children.  Many a time I would roll my eyes over that- but I knew my mother to be very wise when it came to childrearing, so I tucked that bit of insight into the dank corners of my brain to pull out, dust off, and think about when I got older and more experienced.  And you know something, she was right. 
               She would tell me how parents are too afraid to say “no” to their children.  Even in the raising of my own kids my mother would tell me how I was always giving them too many options.  She would say, “Don’t give them so many choices, just tell them what’s for dinner.  If they don’t want to eat it, then they go without.” 
               You know what happens when obedience goes out the window?  We create a generation of people who don’t understand the harsh reality that you are not going to get everything you demand in life.     God forbid we tell little Bobby he can’t jump on the couch, or stay up as late as little Johnny down the street.  Because we’re always trying to justify a way we can give them what they want.  It sure seems to make things easier.  And- in our imperfect love- we want them to be happy.  Maybe we feel guilty about stuff, and we want to overcompensate so little Bobby won’t “suffer”.  Then you’ve got the other parents buying their kindergartens I phones and bikinis and you second guess your backwards parenting techniques. 
               The reason I have been thinking about this so much is that this glaring failure in loving and Godly childrearing has now become this Cerberus, this three-headed hound from hell, and it seems to be strengthening out of control.  When children are not taught loving obedience, there will never be an end to what a human will demand. 
               Case in point:  Gender neutral bathrooms and locker rooms.
               Are you even kidding me?  Seriously?  We are arguing in our society today to defend our daughter’s right to a safe and modest place to change with the other girls in gym class or use the facilities at the store.  Reality has gone away.  Where is America?  The world is twisted off-kilter in its delusion that it must not say no to little Bobby- and we are afraid to stand up and speak truth.  Lack of obedience to even the most basic truth has warped our world.  This behavior is not right, people.  It’s not right…   
               But here’s the thing.  I don’t want to rant about the problem with people today… Because, I’m not going to get any flies with vinegar.  And the point here is not to stand on my soapbox and rain down fire and brimstone.  Because, you see, we are all connected.  We are all in this together.  And the sad truth is- there are so many, many people in our world who are desperately searching for happiness.  But they’re looking in all the wrong places.
               We all want and need love, and compassion, and acceptance.   
               If only we could show them what is really important.  Who is really important.  Jesus.  Jesus is the answer, but He isn’t free.  He’s going to ask something of you.  Sure, He loves you with an unbelievable love, and that will never change- but He will also ask each one of us to follow.  We must follow.  We have to be obedient to His commandments, not ours.     
               In a world that is upside down today, and more than ever those old codgers have a legit bone to pick with the trouble with our society… let’s not spend as much time wringing our hands in condemnation, but instead, pray.  Let’s pray for each other that the world in darkness will come to the light- the Light of the World- the only answer to our problems, Jesus.