February 28 ~ First Week
Dear old and new friends,
The historical death of the religion which includes that of our church is naturally sorrowful, if not unbelievable, especially since there is nothing we personally can do to forestall this inevitable event. Jesus had to die, and we each must and will die. So, too, our religious church must undergo a necessary death if it is to experience a recreation, a new dynamic birth of life.
Our vocation at this historic time is to be hospice caregivers by loving our departing dying church while simultaneously being midwives in welcoming whatever is to be birthed from this awesome pregnant Mystery. These twin but different vocations call for tender compassion and loving gratitude for the gifts we’ve received from our dying religion. The death of who and what we love arouses anger since it is beyond our control. Let us not be angry, but rather embrace the dark mystery of death as the doorway to new life.
Last week’s reflection suggested the practice of jugular prayer where you place your fingers on your throat and feel the throbbing of blood-Life flowing within you. Your small heart, weighing only about half a pound, will 60 seconds every day and night, week in and week out, pump 5 quarts of nourishing Life-God throughout your body—an amazing marvel worthy of daily gratitude. In this Spring Renaissance we have suggested that “Life” is a more inclusive and descriptive name for God, and scripture also tells us it is Love. Aware how that Divine Love is throbbing day and night at our fingertips this week’s Spring Renaissance resolution will focus on love.
So resolve to transform your daily loving from an intellectual concept devoid of emotion into a living, breathing, tangible reality. For example, when we speak of loving our neighbor, or even God-Life, that love is usually cerebral and rational. We need to make our love of creation and others, the poor and strangers, into something physical, touchable and real. Find your inspiration in two elderly lovers whose loving after forty years has evolved beyond the sexually passionate to the compassionate companionship of untiring, mutual care of one another.
The second resolution of this Spring Renaissance of Loving is to make ourselves more loveable! Yes, because we live in a highly mechanized, computerized society where we can easily become automatic, impersonal and mindless in our routine dealings with others. But you and I are walking flesh tabernacles of the Divine Mystery! By being more lovable in a warm, friendly, kind and considerate way to everyone, especially those working in the service industry, we can be living, smiling and loveable channels of Divine Love to those who can easily feel insignificant, lonely and unappreciated by being underpaid.
The grimness of Old Lent is tattooed on our souls in Jesus words, “Repent, the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Good News” (Mark 1, 15). Repent meant to ask forgiveness for our sins, and if we didn’t have any we had to dredge up old and long-ago forgiven ones. As a result Confession became an important if not major activity of a good Lent, along with a grieving heart opening our old wounds of guilt.
But to repent can also mean to change, to undergo a conversion. So Jesus’ quote should have been, “Repent, repent, repent,”…exalting that a healthy spirituality of conversion or change must be a continuous and ongoing lifetime work.
In our Spring Renaissance, repent means, “spring house cleaning.” It requires a radical clean-up, a drastic scrubbing out of whatever is dead and dying, which can include our spiritual practices that no longer nourish a prophetic lifestyle. It means a new identity. If you still wish to be a Catholic, then become a convert…a Catholic Converter who is constantly being rehabilitated and liberated from the old. This evokes broad changes as even your citizenship changes from American to global citizen and your religion from Christian to Cosmic Christian, or pan-religious to include all earth’s religions. Your old dogmas of religious superiority and competition are transformed into those of constant cooperation and communion. If you believe Lent should be penitential, then I assure you that if you have a real conversion, a radical spring life and house cleaning, it will be!