Monday, July 04, 2005

who am I?

If I am not the Rae Stabosz whom everybody likes or at least leaves alone to do her own silly Catholic thing, then who am I? If I cannot write in my own blog about my own troubles at work - about the very new and wrenching experience of having enemies - then what can I write? If I have been bloodied in the culture wars, then does that mean I am a soldier after all, for as much as I have wanted to be a conscientious objector through it all?

"Can't we all just get along" has been my mantra for interacting with people of all persuasions. My faith gives me hope, and hope translates into optimism in daily life. Political differences? Respect your opponents, and lobby for those whose vision matches your own. Religious differences? Respect those with whom you disagree, hold fast to your own understanding of God, and work for unity.

I am a writer, always have been and I expect always will be. Why do writers write? Danged if I know. Ego? Love of words? Necessity?

I started my blog as a journal, Confessions of a Cooperator. What it's like to live daily life having made a commitment to Fr. Alberione's vision of an army of St. Pauls covering the globe and working for the Lord. Working to communicate the good news of Jesus Christ the Redeemer.

But, you know, there's the whole turn-off factor of the name itself, "Jesus Christ." JESUS CHRIST. The Christ. Jesus the Christ. Yeshua. Jesu Christi. His name has been bandied about by his friends and foes alike for so many centuries that nearly everyone has a knee-jerk reaction to hearing him mentioned at all.

Who is he? Master, beloved, redeemer, adorable one, brave one, Son, Word-made-flesh, sacrificial lamb, bridegroom, living vine, shepherd, caretaker of souls, intimate friend, Mary's child, sign of contradiction, ascended one, glorified one, Messiah, misunderstood one, rejected and neglected one, the King of Heaven and Earth. My beloved.

Frank Sheed is right, in Theology and Sanity:

Nothing is rightly seen save in the totality to which it belongs; no part of the Universe is rightly seen save in relation to the whole. But the Universe cannot be seen as a whole unless one sees God as the Source of the existence of every part of it and the center by relation to which every part is related to every other. The man who does not see God may have vast knowledge of this or that section of being, but he is like a man who knows all about the eye, never having seen a face. His knowledge is of items in a list, not of features in a face... He sees nothing quite right, because he sees nothing in its context. We live in a vast context of things that are, events that have happened, a goal to which all is moving. That we should mentally see this context is part of mental health.

Now the Church does thus SEE the Universe. Just as we never think of an eye without at the same time being aware of the face, She never sees anything at all without in the same act seeing the face of reality: God, infinite and eternal, Trinity, Unity; humanity, finite, created in time, fallen and redeemed by Christ; the individual man born into the life of nature, reborn into the life of grace, united with Christ in the Church which is His Mystical Body, aided by angels, hindered by devils, destined for heaven, in peril of hell.

There in outline is the real Universe.

The test of anyone's mind is what is in his mental landscape. And it is not even enough that we should see the same thing as other people plus the things the Church teaches. Even the things that we and they both see will not look the same or be the same; because what the Church teaches affects even the things already in the landscape, the things of ordinary experience. It is like a physical landscape at sunrise: it is not that you see the same things that you saw before and now find yourself seeing the sun as well. You see everything sun-bathed. Similarly it is not a case of seeing the same universe as other people and then seeing God over and above. For God is at the center of the being of everything whatsoever. If we would see the Universe aright, we must see it God-bathed.

God-bathed. Mmmm. Makes me feel warm. And sane. It is my sanity I have feared for recently, my sanity because just by being myself I have made enemies.

But Sheed had a reason for titling his book Theology and Sanity, not Theology and Sanctity as at least one of the book's initial reviews mis-read:
If we saw a coat hanging on a wall and did not realize that it was held there by a hook, we should not be living in the real world at all, but in some fantastic world of our own in which coats defied the law of gravity and hung on walls by their own power. Similarly if we see things in existence and do not in the same act see that they are held in existence by God, then equally we are living in a fantastic world, not the real world. Seeing God everywhere and all things upheld by Him is not a matter of sanctity, but of plain sanity, because God IS everywhere and all things ARE upheld by Him. What we do about it may be sanctity; but merely seeing it is sanity. To overlook God's presence is not simply to be irreligious; it is a kind of insanity, like overlooking anything else that is actually there.

Theology and Sanity is a wonderful book. Marty Helgesen introduced me to it, just as he introduced me to the Pauline Family. Marty is like a guardian angel to me, but in the flesh. I love the way God puts people in our lives as little gifts that we take for granted and don't even realize He has given us. Thank you, Marty, good and faithful servant.

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