(I am working on two pieces for the weekend. One is a description of the sweep of what the world will look like during the height of the Storm and things to watch for. The second is a brief explanation of what a monetary system is, so that you may better understand what you are seeing unfold.
For now, I put up this transcript of remarks I made at our first prayer meeting a week and a half ago. There is a video of it, but because of the size of the files, I am working with my son to set up a Youtube Account and just link to that from this site rather than eat up space here.)
Many of you here have children or grandchildren at home. I raised two children on my own from the time they were two and three years old. I miss those days of fantastic exuberance, days when my mind, body and spirit were fully occupied with caring for them and making our household a joyful one. I consider it among the highest forms of prayer, certainly the form that most fully engages all your faculties – and is consumed with loving care for another. Fortunately, the Catholic faith offers an abundance of wonderful devotions for us once we are deprived of this fuller font of prayer. It does not engage all our faculties as does family life…but we have to make do as we can in the different stages of life.
Our Christian God is not just a personality, but a community of persons with one will. We know that man is made in God’s own image. As it is written in Genesis, “…in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Gen 1:27) If we are made in God’s own image, He has given us a portion of His dignity – and surely we reach our highest level of joy when we share in His nature. But what is the fundamental nature of God?
Love processes from the Father through the Son…and goes forth from the Holy Spirit to create. All that is…is the result of this love that constantly flows through the persons of Trinity. God’s fundamental nature is as Loving Creator. If we are made in His image, that means that at our deepest level, we are made to participate in creation with Him.
Now the world has gotten this wrong…particularly since the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment got many things right – but it has been a disaster for mankind because it got its very foundation wrong…and if the foundation is flawed, the structure cannot stand. The Enlightenment envisioned man’s fundamental nature as that of consumer – a complicated animal that, when his needs for food, shelter and companionship are met should be content. It planned to give him everything but dignity – the royal dignity of the Divine Imprint on his soul. It did not acknowledge man’s fundamental nature as creator, reserving that function to a small elite which would cater to his every need…as if the great mass of men were merely a pack of quarrelsome dogs. It is why the centuries since the beginning of the Enlightenment have seen more people murdered and butchered in service to utopian schemes every few decades than were killed in all the religious wars of history combined.
Think of your own life. Except when you are joyfully playing with your family, the only time you fully re-enter the seamless joy of childhood is when you are lost in the work you love. Whatever you do, whether you are an artist, a writer, an architect, a bricklayer, a homemaker…you have a vocation, whether it is what you are paid for or not – and in your vocation you participate with God in the very act of creation, living the fundamental nature, the royal dignity, with which He endowed you.
Now think about how you interact with your family. Does anyone dream of their children growing up to live on welfare…or to get whatever they want through a career as a thief? You don’t think of your children in terms of what they are going to get, but of what they will be. You dream of the things they will create, the families they will start, the hopes they will live. As you see their unique little personalities begin to form and reveal themselves – God’s unique imprint in them, you envision how they will use their unique personality to make the world a little better. Is there anyone here who cares for their children, who loves their babies just to feel good about yourself and how noble you are? Of course you don’t. In your love for your children is a shadow of God’s love for each of us. You love them because they ARE…and because their souls have been given, for a time, into your care. What a joy it is to participate as witness and guide in the growth of a soul! It is one of the greatest privileges God gives us.
If someone in your family is in trouble, is hurting, has suffered a tragedy or a setback, you don’t help them to show how noble you are – or as if they are a benighted child of a lesser god. You help, you comfort, you console them as a loving brother or sister – for you know them by their name; you know what they love, what their strengths, what their flaws are. You love them for their quirks, for their kindness, even for their flaws…for the person is your brother, your sister, your mother….never reduced to a file or a case number. You love them with a love God has implanted within you, a love which knows them and calls them by their name.
We tell ourselves that we must help the less fortunate. In the telling, we both flatter and deceive ourselves. Christian charity, simple love, can never be a condescension of the greater to the lesser. The truth is that we are all the less fortunate, burdened down by the weight of original sin. We are to care for each other as loving brothers and sisters. When we do that, drawing from the life-giving water that is Christ, we build up our brothers even as we are built up by those same brothers. We live solidarity and strengthen the social fabric that binds us one to another. We mirror, in the little way we can, God’s love for us.
Apart from God, social work is nothing more than animal husbandry. Why should the dignity of so many of God’s children be broken on the altar of social work to feed the self-absorbed hunger of a few who are desperate to feel good about themselves?
Almost four years ago, I departed on a walking pilgrimage across this great land of ours. Over the course of a year and a half I walked 32-hundred miles, sleeping in the woods…often under bridges when it rained… My first night out I met a young couple with a little daughter, a couple who gave me a ride for a few miles. They were saving up to get the electricity turned on in the trailer they had just put a deposit on, so they could move out of his mother’s house. We talked about what I was doing and their hopes for the future. When they dropped me off, the husband tried to slip me a five-dollar-bill to help me on my way. Knowing what they were saving for, I declined. I will never forget the hurt on his face when I did that…I robbed him of his dignity…his dignity as a creator, a philanthropist cooperating with God. I never made that mistake again…always gratefully accepting the spontaneous generosity of those who sought to support me on my way.
Do you think there is ever any vanity in the love that processes amongst the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit? Does the Father ever try to lord His generosity over the Son, or the Son over the Father? Of course not! God is love. When we give well, we receive acknowledgment from the recipient that we are participating with God in the act of creation, itself. When we receive well, we give acknowledgment to our benefactor that he is participating with God in the act of creation, itself. So we receive as we give and give as we receive – and so long as we do both well and fully, we participate in the Trinitarian interior life of God, Himself.
I found all across this country that people are good, with noble instincts…wanting to reach out to each other. I had a couple of gang-bangers in Baton Rouge pull up to me alongside the road, hand me a sack, then take off before I could acknowledge them. In that sack were various snacks, juice boxes and little cakes they had obviously gotten from a convenience store. Something moved their deep generosity upon seeing me trudging along, though they did not want anyone noticing it. Wouldn’t want to mess up their reputations as hard cases – but God saw their spontaneous kindness.
One of the incidents that most sticks in my mind came in San Antonio. I met a cheerful homeless woman, somewhere between 25 and 30 years old, I think. She started chatting with me and invited me to share a quart of beer with her. I told her I would have a swig, but I didn’t have much stomach for it otherwise, but I would be glad to sit and talk a while. Her boyfriend was in jail for something…he was going to get out in two more months, and she lived in the streets while waiting for him. We chatted about what I was doing and she was utterly charmed. When it was time for me to get moving, I got up, hugged her, and asked her to pray for me, for it was often hard out there. To my astonishment, she burst into tears, wailing piteously. I asked what I had said to offend her. As she got herself under control, she said I had done nothing – but that though many had said they would pray for her, none had ever asked her to pray for them. Did I really think her prayers would mean anything? I told her I needed them – and God always hears the cry of His children.
I have thought about that a lot…I don’t know that my offering to pray for her would have moved her, but my asking her to pray for me made her truly feel the presence of God. By treating her, without even thinking of it, with the dignity she was given as a daughter of the Living God, I helped restore and recall to her some of that dignity.
When we love in family, we do not seek what we can gain, but the good of those we love. When you change the dirty diapers, wash the clothes, tell the bedtime stories, wipe the runny noses, dry the tears, you are not trying to elevate your status, but simply to love those you claim as your own in love. It is a participation in the interior life of the Trinity itself.
In the 12th Chapter of Matthew and the 8th Chapter of Luke, Jesus is confronted with people who tell Him that His mother and brethren are looking for Him. Jesus responds that His mother and His brethren are those who do His Father’s will. This is NOT a rejection of His natural family. Rather, Jesus is teaching us how to love. He is expanding the definition of who our family is. Who is our family? Whoever will accept it. How are we to love those we encounter? Like family, for when we do, we love as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit love…and we participate and strengthen and add to the bonds of solidarity that is the Creative Force of God, Himself, which sustains the entire universe.
So today, at this prayer meeting, we receive the love of God. We receive it that we may go forth and give what we have received. And in the giving, we receive again.
The world has become a cynical place. But if you scratch the surface of a cynic, you will almost always find a disillusioned idealist looking for a reason to believe. I call upon everyone here to go forth and be that reason. Do it simply by loving your neighbor as your family, as yourself. For when you do, you enter a little into the interior life of the Trinity, itself.