I’m back, for those who still have Obstat on their radar. It is good to be writing again after the tumult of our move from the Heartland to the Bayou.
And today is the feast of, among others, the man for all seasons, St. Thomas More. He is a true patron of the lay vocation who found his martyrdom not as a church-mouse but precisely by living holiness in his in-the-world career as Lord Chancellor of England. Vastly more to say about him, but I will save that for other days. In the mean time, if you have not seen the movie A Man for All Seasons, you must first go to confession for not having seen it and then promptly rent it and watch it when you have three hours to spare.
Eight Days a Week
Before I take leave of you for today, I have to say at least something about the Ignatian 8-day retreat I was, through the sacrificial love of my family, able to go on in early June at IPF in Omaha. Utterly astounding. I will write many blogs out of the graces of those days’ insights, but let me just share a core snapshot here.
Sounds of Silence
Imagine eight days of total silence, broken only by daily spiritual direction and liturgical responses at Mass, organized around four separate hour-long periods of prayer each day. Absolutely no technology, newspapers, et al, and my only reading material was Sacred Scripture.
In such an environment one finds oneself utterly vulnerable to Christ, exposed to his gaze by the progressive collapse of all of the buzzing, blooming confusion of one’s accumulated props, distractions, buffers, interference — noise. I can find no better way to describe it than this — as I walked along Ignatius’ thematic itinerary each day (essentially a journey through Christ’s life-death-resurrection) I found myself suffering the mysteries presented for reflection each day. Here by ‘suffering’ I simply mean undergoing and enduring.
And the mysteries I endured were not just intellectually intriguing theological insights (which I relish!) but the reality, the pith and kernel, the red-hot coals and refining Fire inside the hearth that burns hidden in the Sacraments. e.g. to gain insight into Christ as Truth is cool, but to suffer Christ as Truth is to come to know – and bid adieu to – all your alloys in his truthy Fire.
And in that suffering of the mysteries of Christ I discovered with new vigor a truth I thought I knew so well — the truth that, as St Thérèse would nicely word it, tout est grâce, all is grace. In other words, absolutely everything I am/do that is of eternal and redemptive value is in the first instance a work of God in-with-through me. The very existence of the cosmos is absolutely dependent on God’s creative and sustaining act at every moment, and to begin to pray as if that were a raw fact is, let’s just say, a radical revolution.
In a word, it means for me to pray like her…