Thursday, December 25, 2014

Silence, and the Word made incarnate

When peaceful silence lay over all, and when night had run half way her swift course, down from the heavens, from the royal throne, leapt your all-powerful Word. –Book of Wisdom 18:14-15

Silence.  This was the focus of Father Richard Rohr's Christmas Day daily meditation, and the focus of many of his messages. In the silence is when we allow Christ's message into our very beings, let it infuse itself into our lives in such a way that is possible by no other means.  The path to silence, that is if I ever make it to a state of meditation where my mind is silent as well as my voice, is for me the opportunity to use what Fr. Richard Rohr calls the non-dualistic mind.  This is when we can contemplate on the facts of life and hold all of the seeming contradictions together at the same time.

These, for me, are the daily occurrences which don't get talked about, but which form our understanding of the world and even affect our emotions at times.  Like yesterday, as we celebrated the Feast of the Incarnation, known to much of the world as Christmas Day.  While many people in this country were focusing on the pomp and circumstance around the mostly secularized holiday, Pope Francis was giving a call to action to bring peace to the world, to address the suffering of refugees, hostages, and victims of violence, infection, and indifference.  While it may be the indifference and ignorance of some people wrapped up in the culture of consumerism that is contributing to violence, poverty, and disease, we understand that both of these scenes - the consumeristic Christmas culture and the Papal Christmas message - are in their own right, each recognized by society as celebrations of the same holiday.  Where lies the message of the birth of the baby Jesus, the incarnation on earth of the divine Word?  Why is it so often pushed to the side, by nominal Christians and those who just don't believe in Jesus as the Son of God?  Why don't more people see the deeper meaning behind the incarnation that Jesus came to earth to teach us, and recognize this as true Christianity that the holiday of Christmas is supposed to celebrate?

Center with silence.

I've learned a great deal about the culture of non-Catholic Christians. There are those that prescribe to the root teachings of Jesus and are in effect Franciscan-hearted even if they don't identify as such, and those who have the tendency to wash down the messages of Jesus with a culture of Protestant evangelization that does not seem to keep true to Christian spirituality.  There are Catholics who understand and live for Catholic social justice teaching. Then, there are Catholics who don't seem to understand the root spiritual principles of the faith and religious tradition - perhaps because they weren't exposed to the proper formative experiences, and/or perhaps because they never took the time to let the spirit move them - some of them have left the church altogether, while some of them continue going to church but don't let their faith transform them.  Neither is healthy. We need an evangelization of the Church which proclaims the messages that Jesus shared with the world, and provides an open space - perhaps through the taught practice of silence and meditation - for the recognition of these messages as communication of the manifestation of the divine in the physical. And if this evangelization communicated our interconnectedness and the uniqueness of Franciscan theology in being able to make peace between the seeming contradictions of the unity of the spiritual and the physical, all the stronger the Church would be for it.

There is a special bond and commitment to family that seems nearly universal within Catholic families, made all the more visual after watching "A Fitzgerald Family Christmas."  While I cannot speak much to the bonds between members of Protestant families, the bonds within the Catholic families I know seem quite sacred. Of course, no family is perfect, and there is much we can do to seek reconciliation within our families. But at the same time, why does it so often seem that the bonds of kinship within families feel so distanced from bonds of kinship with our universal family?   This, again is a question we will need to look at with the eyes and heart of the non-dualistic mind, to allow us to see the gaps between the privileged and the poverty-stricken.

May we find the peace and the silence within to allow the answers to these questions into our heart in as non-judgmental, most universal and Christ-loving way as possible.

No comments: