Friday, February 3, 2012

The gift of understanding.

The last two weeks have been a blur of emotions, a rush to understand, come to terms, and combat "the spirit of the age." The HHS mandate poked its head into our lives one day and changed forever the way faithful Christians and Jews see their position in our country. That takes some getting used to.

Of course, I hope that we do not lose this fight and that we do maintain our freedom to treat pregnancy as nature-gone-right.

It's hard, however, not to look into the future and wonder: Will my children--should they choose to remain Christians--be prohibited from attending medical school? Will the Scientist Dad and I be forced to pay heavy fines for refusing health insurance? Will our priests and bishops find themselves crippled by financial penalties or prison? Will Catholics who own businesses be forced to close them?

Those are the immediate fears that come to mind. But then I think again on those brave men and women who have gone before us--the English martyrs, the Japanese martyrs, the Mexican martyrs, the parents silenced in the Soviet Union, and so many more. Their sufferings have passed and they are blessed "who washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb." All these materials concerns--what if?--surely come to nothing. It is a shrug in the vastness of eternity.

That is not to say these fears are unreal or should be ignored. We must, in fidelity to the Word made flesh, resist the apocalyptic endings. God is found more readily, for weak souls such as me, in a peaceful life free from the temptations of persecution. "Who shall abide the day of His coming?" Grant us peace in our day, is our daily prayer.

What the Christian life gives to us, however, is not a promise that we will escape extreme hardship. Even if our generation is able to "flee the wrath," our surrender to Christ has asked of us the most difficult thing of all. Regardless of the rise and fall of churchmen and politicians, we who are in Christ have received the heavy cross of understanding.

Caryll Houselander writes of this in her phenomenal Reed of God:

"In the world in which we live today, the great understanding given by the Spirit of Wisdom must involve us in a lot of suffering. We shall be obliged to see the wound that sin has inflicted on the people of the world. We shall have X-ray minds; we shall see through the bandages people have laid over wounds that sin has dealt them; we shall see the Christ in others, and that vision will impose an obligation on us for as long as we live, the obligation of love..."

That is a much heavier burden than any fine, loss of healthcare, loss of livelihood. We can see so clearly behind the current threats of persecution and in our family and friends' cold reactions to our distress. We see the pain and darkness of the world outside of the Church. Our hearts are broken and "haunted" by a nostalgia, not for the 1950's or 1200's, but for a homeland we have yet to see. The HHS mandate breaks my heart, not because I'm worried that Bella can't become a doctor, but because of the "tragedy of misunderstanding" between those who have chosen the "middle way" with the world and those who have chosen the "danger of the Divine Lover."

What can I do?

Caryll again:

"The only thing to do is to go on loving, to be patient, to suffer the misunderstanding. Explanations even of what can be explained seldom heal--and there is so much that cannot be explained.

"Even the presence of Christ in us does not do away with our own clumsiness, blindness, stupidity. Indeed, sometimes because of our limitations, His light is a blinding light to us and we become, for a time, more dense than before. We shall be irritable, still make mistakes, and still very likely be unaware of how exasperating we are...

"If we realize we are a little absurd, the love of humility will come more easily."

Whatever the trajectory of our little nation--and it is so little in light even of human history--the Way is still the same. We will plug on either to glorious martyrdom or an insignificant ordinary old age. But we will have no fear, for along with the spirit of understanding we have been given the spirit of strength. The Bride shares the strength of her Lover, because when she received him and his sorrow, she received all his might as well.


Katherine said...

Beautifully written.

But I still fear for my children's future and the future of our nation that so many seem so eager to throw away.

LP said...

Thanks for this one too - last night I needed the laugh, today I needed this.