March 4 ~ Second Week
Evil and the endless flow of sufferings from it appears to be increasing in our world…or is it that television news can now bring the world’s hideous evil sufferings into our very homes that we are more aware of them? We sit as helpless spectators before the bloody slaughter of innocent children, women and elderly, and a host of other human miseries.
There’s a story about Jesus returning to earth and going about doing good as he had done before. He is quickly arrested by the Inquisition and thrown in a dungeon cell. The old Grand Inquisitor comes to his cell and accuses Jesus of his many crimes through his gift of freedom to humanity. He condemns the prisoner for giving false hope to the poor by declaring their liberation from oppression. The Grand Inquisitor tells him that this time “they” won’t again let him spread his wickedness. The sinister interrogator stops and waits for some response from the prisoner, but Jesus remains silent. It was clear that the prisoner had listened intently yet he wasn’t going to say anything…and the Inquisitor desired some kind of response! Instead, the prisoner silently approached the old man and softly kissed him on his bloodless, aged lips. That was his answer!
This story from The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky affirms the teaching of Jesus that the only appropriate response to evil, domestic or international, is love! Critical in our Spring Renaissance is the awareness that the opposite of love is not hate. Love’s counterpart is indifference; being apathetic, detached and removed. If in your neighborhood a child is kidnapped to be indentured as a sex slave or exploited laborer it would bring outrage and action. When the same event happens on the other side of the world, we feel sorry but remain uninvolved.
Our Spring Renaissance reminds us that when we choose to live at the radical depth of our subatomic quantum self, each of us is inseparable from the rest of humanity and from creation, our planet and the universe. Almost two thousand years before Einstein in the 1920’s coined the word “quantum” for the bits or waves of energy perceived at the subatomic level that connect us all together, Jesus perceived that reality when he said, “Whatever you do to one another, even the least among you, you do to me!” When you live at that level of inner depth, “them” becomes “us.” So it is then us, you and I, who at age seven slaves away at a workbench in some dirty workshop. And whenever we dare live at that inner depth where our “I” becomes a collective “we” then we are the ones killed by drive-by shootings or are raped, robbed and imprisoned…and not them.
The Brothers Karamazov tells another story of an argument between Ivan, who is an atheist, with a believer, Alyosha. Ivan quotes example after example of horrible human suffering, ending with the anguish of innocent children. Then Ivan says to God, “I most respectfully return to you my entrance ticket to your Heaven!” Yes, who wants to share eternity with a God who allows the sexual abuse of children, domestic violence, murder and sadistic bullying? But all good things have a shadow side! Free will’s dark shadow is that humans can abuse that gift resulting in immense suffering such as the inconceivable evil of the Holocaust.
Our Spring Renaissance presents to each of us an evolutionary challenge to freely choose to live at the inner depth of the quantum theory…or not!
Catholic churches are filled with violence and horrible suffering! Their walls are lined with fourteen picture/images of the horrible physical abuse of Jesus, his shaming and disgrace, his crucifixion on the cross and finally the sorrowful grief of his burial. Most churches also must have in a prominent place a large, often life size, image of Jesus nailed to a cross. Crucifixion was adopted by Rome from the Persians as the most agonizing way to die.
The Stations of the Cross are composed of 14 different images-stations and originated at the time of the Crusades where knights and ordinary people walked through Jerusalem’s streets stopping at different places along the tortuous journey of Jesus and his cross to Calvary. This crusader devotion spread to Europe so that in the 14th and 15th centuries there were stops/stations for prayer spread across the countryside, making it a sort of pilgrimage of the cross. Next the fourteen stations were all placed inside a single church with the space between the stations radically condensed. A traditional Lenten devotion is for a group or an individual to make the Way of the Cross.
In this pious devotion the suffering and death of Jesus of Nazareth are remembered and become a source for reflection…and guilt! Unfortunately, often the reason for the cross is preached that it was made necessary by our sins, that we and our sins are responsible for the death of Jesus on the cross. While actually the crucifixion was a sign of infallible and faithful love…but we will return to that later in our Spring Renaissance.
The Stations of the Cross of the Living Christ could be a Spring Renaissance prayer for your own home as you watch the news! Television news presents living Stations of Christ’s agony and passion of the Cross with its images of war zones, senseless murders, those suffering droughts and famines, victims of natural disasters, children and the elderly lacking proper care and food, and plagues and epidemics. Each living tragedy is usually filmed at the very site at which it happened and can be a Station in your Stations of the Cross. Begin by consciously living at that deep inner level of the quantum reality so as to share in the suffering.
Then possibly use this silent ritual:
Breath in the pain and agony of a scene as you slowly trace
the sign of the cross on your heart with your thumb.
Each Station can be a Holy Communion of the Cross. Be prepared for these electronic Stations of the Cross that, unlike the static ones in church, will be instantaneous!