Thursday, March 15, 2007

Mediators - Distracted or Directed?

Here is another excerpt from Bailie's, Entering the Biblical Story at the Eucharistic Table. This time from the Q&A session of the talk where he elaborates on the relatedness of desire and suffering.

The Buddhist recognizes that the problem is desire that is very good, so do we Christians, or at least we should or we used to before we threw Augustine out. But for Christians it is not to shut down desire and it is not to avoid suffering. For Christians it is to awaken desire and turn it toward its proper object, turning it away from all the fancy glitter things that distract us, and toward God. And because we humans need to see the face of God, we absolutely needed the incarnation. Jesus gives us that incarnation so that our desires, and we are not talking about the goofy kinds of raw desires, but our longing, like metal filings can be re-oriented in the right way, so that our desire is awakened. This is what Dante is all about, awakening that desire and turning it to all kinds of mediators: Beatrice, the Beloved, Sister Immaculate, John of the Cross, whoever it is, awakened by all kinds of mediators and directed back to its true source. Augustine starts the Confessions with the first paragraph he ends it with, “We are restless until we rest in Thy.” We take that restlessness which is our desire, we don’t try to shut it down, we turn it toward its proper object and we understand that suffering can be redemptive. That is really powerful. When you recognize that this can be redemptive, not just for me, because if it is for me than it goes back to this little project of me getting into heaven, elbowing my way in. But my suffering can be redemptive to somebody on the other side of the planet – to somebody in another age. And this is what prayer can do. We have to believe these things because they are true. We use to have, as little Catholic children in the playground, prayers or we would offer up our suffering to the poor souls in purgatory, which now today everyone has a little condescending smirk, but it is absolutely true. Our suffering can be redemptive not just for us, but maybe not primarily for us, but for others. It is a great gift and once you recognize that, suddenly this pain has dignity and vocation.

Over the course of my faith journey I became aware of just how undeveloped my passion or desire was - lukewarm at best. My mediators were your usual actors, business types or sports heros, whose image or essense was manufactured and not real. To wake me up from this stupor, setting me on fire for life, took repeated smacking of a 2X4 against my forehead (divorce and stroke) until no longer did I continue to try to find fulfillment gazing upon manufactured idols. I can look back now and notice numerous mediators coming into my life directing me to Christ; and the more I gazed into their eyes the more my desire and passion grew and (what seemed like) suddenly I burst into a love for the church - being a member of the body of Christ became my passion.

So not only are mediators important, helping one to be directed and not distracted, but by being directed toward our true source we become aflame with the Holy Spirit - true Christ-links in the world.

1 comment:

Porthos said...

There is a lot of meat in that excerpted passage, and also in your testimony. Nice post!