“For on whatever place one has fallen, on that place he must find support that he may rise again.” – St. Augustine, De vera religione, XXIV
There is an old saying that to be born in interesting times is a curse, and if that be the case, every generation would have to be seen as cursed. Needless to say, we live in interesting times. But are we cursed?
We, as believers, struggle with the question: even though life seems a bit shaky right now, do we believe that our lives are built on the vagaries of an undetermined future or do we face the seismic shifts in our personal and communal lives by standing firmly in our relationship with the Holy Trinity in whose life we share by virtue of our baptism? Do we truly believe that God who has created us out of love, who through his Son has redeemed us out of love, and who through the Holy Spirit has promised to stay with us always and to sanctify our daily experience out of love, would ever leave us to dwell in the uncertain land of gloom and fear and anxiety?
In all these huge shifts and seeming catastrophes that unfold daily for us, perhaps we are called to deeper lives of practical faith, that is, a faith that is lived everyday in the midst of all the mess.
We perhaps can see that in these worst of times, we can, like Charles Dickens, also see the best of times. Perhaps now, more than ever, we are to live that faith that perhaps we took for granted, to take the time for prayer that we know we need, but in more comfortable times did not employ as often. In these worst of times, perhaps we can use the gift of faith that has always been there but was never appreciated as the transforming gift it is, helping us every day to move through the craziness of an uncertain life to the calming love of a Good Shepherd who leads us and guides us and protects us.
Perhaps now is the time to become even more fervent in our participation in Mass and the other sacraments, to realize that unique gift of a sacramental tradition in which grace is passed on and becomes part of the fabric of everyday life, transforming the way we approach what happens to us and our world from curse to the blessed unfolding of God’s plan for us, transforming us into people of truth and goodness.
Perhaps now is the time to pick up the Bible a bit more, to read daily readings set forth by our tradition, as the inspiration for facing life not with immediate and easy answers, but with the ultimately more satisfying reality that in the long run our unique experiences are not that unique, but we are part of the story of a long line of people who have failed miserably but have been loved unconditionally and mercifully, and through the power of grace are able to change because of the Changeless One.
It was striking to see what happened in Egypt these past weeks, but even more striking than the “revolution” was that, as time progressed, the people who had occupied Tahrir Square eventually were out scrubbing the streets, painting the curbs, removing the graffiti and telling themselves to go home and start living normal life again. Transformation and uncertainty and fear and anxiety? Yes, but the call to normal living, too.
What is our call – is it the seeming curse of being human, of living in relationships and being part of a community that seemingly can’t get it right? Or is it the real blessing that through our feeble stories, our misgivings and doubts, our cynicism and fear and even our sin, our God is bringing transformation and new life, new justice and new peace, a new way of being as the beloved sons and daughters of a living God?
Let’s get back to work, knowing that things have changed and will continue to change. What doesn’t change is God and his great love for us!