by Catherine Doherty.
Our road is rough at times. We pray, "Lord, show me your path." Then when he does this, we draw back.
We draw back into ourselves, not necessarily walking his paths. We stand still because we see that the path goes upwards. It’s painful and the sharp stones will cut our shoes; so we don’t follow his ways. This is a natural reaction to the supernatural.
He asks so much, so terribly much, and we don’t do it. We can’t do it, or, rather, we can’t do it alone. We feel helpless.
The only way to put one foot in front of another on the paths of the Lord and his ways is to pray, and to realize that it isn’t we who put our foot forward. It is God who does it for us.
Let’s stop for a moment and think about Easter. In the West, Christmas is a very great feast, but in the East, Easter is the feast of feasts. In the East, Easter is the feast. Everything that happens in a person’s life, and in the Church, is concentrated in the apex of Easter.
Christmas is a lovely feast, obviously; it is the feast of the incarnation.
God became man so that he might die and resurrect, for his incarnation and even his passion and death wouldn’t amount to anything unless he resurrected.
(In Russian, the word for Sunday is voskresenye, Resurrection.)
Now let’s stop and think what has been given to us by the incarnation, death and Resurrection of our Lord: a new life! It is so fantastic!
With God, every moment is the moment of beginning again. At any given moment, your life can be renewed. The light of repentance, what the East calls, "the Lenten spring," has come.
We need to pray for the light of repentance. The moment we accept this repentance, the new life is in us.
We are so blessed. We go around close to despair, with psychiatrists earning fantastic fees just by listening to people. Probably they don’t talk about the light of repentance. But today, people just don’t have the money to go to them, so maybe they will turn to God and their wounds will be healed.
Like myself, for instance. I had and still have, many wounds, painful memories and such, but I am pretty simple about things.
I am almost idiotic, because I turn to Our Lord and say, "Look, you are the Good Samaritan who met the guy beaten up by robbers. Well, I am that guy who was beaten up. Why don’t you put me on your donkey and take me to the inn of your heart? Or put some oil and wine on me? You can cure me faster than anyone else.
"It is beautiful to be prayed over by your people, yes, but why don’t you pray over me? Just one word from you, and I will be okay" (cf Mt 8:8).
Then healing happens. It is fantastic.
Every year, we die and resurrect. The reason for this comes forth once a year, at the beautiful feast of Easter, in a glory the likes of which one cannot express.
Hope! People just discard hope as if it weren’t there. To the majority of people, hope isn’t a theological virtue; it’s just nothing.
When I was at my husband Eddie’s bedside in his last illness, I looked at him, so wan, and I said, "Death is no more." He looked at me and said, "Love is stronger than death." True! Love is Christ, and Christ is stronger than death.
Isn’t it wonderful that death is a passover? Let’s get excited about that.
That’s what an icon is all about. You stand in front of an icon and, if you look at it long enough, it passes you over to God. It is like a corridor almost. It is a passover.
We should go deeply into our hearts, dive into them without fear, and dig up all the nonsense of disbelief.
Because deep down, we don’t really believe that Christ’s death and Resurrection offers us new life. We don’t quite believe it, and that "quite" just doesn’t work with God. It is all or nothing with God. Either you are with me or against me, he said (cf Mt 12-30).
Now why is it that we lack this faith? We don’t pray enough, so immersed are we in our daily preoccupations. Our life becomes "old" and meaningless again.
There is a sea of people who are seeking, not knowing what they seek. They seem to be in a meaningless sea without any shores, with waves that chase each other but don’t go anywhere. This is a great tragedy.
Last night, before going to sleep, I felt that I had to get up and pray. I had to pray for all the nations, especially America and Canada, because of what I had read in the newspaper. The bottomless sadness and tragedy we are dealing with in these countries is our nominal Christianity.
The Church is the Mystical Body, the bride of Christ. You go through her to the heart of the Man who was God and died for her, because we are the people of God. He died for all of us, and he made us his Mystical Body.
So, saying that the human part of the Church is no good will get you nowhere. Of course, it is "no good."
Suppose you were a priest. Do you think you would change because you were a priest? Sure, you change a little. You get polished up here and there, and a lot of knowledge goes into your head and into your heart. But you still remain a human being.
This character who is called a priest and who to you appears to be a "no-goodnik"—well, what about yourself? Are you a "goodnik"?
Before you judge him, why not start with yourself? Christ says, Judge not, and you will not be judged (Mt 7:1).
Did Jesus get himself "goodniks"? Ha! I often talk to him about that. In fact, I cheer myself up periodically with these talks.
There was St. Peter, and where was he when Christ was crucified? You couldn’t see him. What did he do? He denied him. Would you like a friend like that?
Are you going to stay away from the Church because Peter was such a "louse"?
He repented eventually, and strangely enough, God made him the head of his Church. He gave Peter the keys. Now, why did God do that? Because God is God, and he loves you and me. God said, My ways are not your ways (Is 55:8).
And who was under the cross? Only one of his apostles! Except for John, the well-beloved, who have you got? Ten that ran away! It was on those characters that God built his Church.
What I am trying to say to you is that the Church, through her liturgy, is the path to get to the Passover that is Easter.
Eye has not seen and ear has not heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for those who love him (I Cor 2:9).
Just think of it! It takes your breath away! It casts away all fears.
There are things within our Church that cannot quite be understood, but that can be sensed—if we are still and listen to that which no human ear hears but that the heart hears.
God is awesome and transcendent. And yet as my mother told me when I was a child…. I said to her, "Mommy, I want to touch Christ." She replied, "Touch me."
God is available right next to me in my brother and also in my own heart.
He became man and, just like you and I, he had flesh. He is quite available. He is yours for the asking.
He who desires God already possesses him. The way to desire is to enter into Lent, to begin fasting, not only from food, but from whatever leads us to run away from the new life God offers.
Let us begin to desire the Desired One.
—Excerpted and adapted from an unpublished after-dinner spiritual reading in Combermere, February 26, 1975
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