Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Union with God

While I was singing at mass on Sunday, I began thinking about how we are united with God. Some people think of that union as a drop of water falling into an ocean. That image would seem to indicate an obliteration of the individual soul in God. I suppose there are aspects where we are no longer separated from God by our own will and ego. However, I was wondering if perhaps this union is not more like the singing of the congregation. In fact, perhaps Gregorian chant is a good metaphor (and we can only grasp with metaphors, with analogies and the like). Everyone singing in unison, the same melody, different voices and timbres. No one voice stands out, but they all create a beautiful, living, vibrant whole. I think of the new wording of the Nicene Creed which we will recite at mass beginning this Advent where we will speak of Jesus being "consubstantial with the Father." That is, the Son and the Father share one substance, yet they are separate persons. So even in the Trinity, the individual is not obliterated in the divine union.

I don't speak of these things from experience. I've been reading St. Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle, and it is clear to me how far I am from what she is talking about. However, God gives us reason, and he gives us desire, and these can inch us along to greater understanding and deeper experience.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Fr. Sieger Köder

(Sieger Köder, Unexpected-The Closeness of God)

On Holy Saturday I included a painting by Fr. Sieger Köder. I was very taken by that painting.

Here are some places to find out more about Fr. Köder and his art.

Pauline Books has a large selection of posters of his paintings, as well as other media. There you will also find a book by Gemma Simmonds about Fr. Köder's art, Glimpses of the Divine: The Art and Inspiration of Sieger Köder.

Some blog entries about Fr. Köder include sites at Priya and Rev. Nick Helm.

There is an article about Fr. Köder in the November 2010 issue of Catholic Life (article not accessible through this link).

Art can truly help us to meditate on the deep mysteries of our faith, and Fr. Köder's art helps us to do that.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

As We Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us

It is so hard to live the Lord's Prayer.

There is a place near my neighborhood where an off-ramp intersects with another ramp. The ramp I take has a yield sign; the other ramp has the right of way. However, often when I stop to yield for the other car or cars, a car behind me lays on the horn, trying to get me to go. This is how my day starts on my way to work. Fortunately, or unfortunately (depending on the day), this incident is immediately after morning mass. Fortunately, because hopefully I have had an infusion of grace to help me deal with this situation. Unfortunately, if I succumb to the urgent feeling of wanting to indicate to the driver behind me my irritation. This is such a minor thing, and yet it makes me very angry when it happens.

Jesus asked the Father to forgive his executioners for they did not know what they were doing. Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek and to pray for our enemies. Today was the feast of the apostles Philip and James, martyrs. They too, were to forgive their executioners. So I should at least be able to get over being honked at.

And then there is Osama bin Laden. It is truly difficult to pray for such a man to receive mercy from God. His hatred has cost so many lives. However, Jesus was crystal clear. He was not making a suggestion; he was commanding us. We must pray for our enemies, and bin Laden was Public Enemy Number One. This is where grace transcends our natural instincts. Despite our instincts, this forgiveness is for our own good. It just does not feel that way. However, that is why feelings are not our ultimate gauge for determining the rectitude of an action.