14 June 2012

This & That

1)  When you have a stroke, you usually lose the filter that keeps temper, fury, and rage in line. When you have had multiple strokes, no doctor really expects that you will ever manage to live in a civil fashion again. Your family will leave you, your friends will abandon you, and even your priest will hide from you. For me one of the real miracles in my life is that for all that has happened to me I am not in a constant state of fury. No, God seems to have within the Divine Will to protect me from such a life.  
Oh yes, my righteous indignation at injustice is alive and well, and I can verbally disembowel an attacking personality in seven words... But for the most part I have been incredibly blessed with an angel keeping watch over my tongue and working healing within my brain. For that I try hard to fill each day with repeated acts of gratitude to God for everything with no exceptions.
2) I was asked again "What is it like to receive a divine healing?" In my case it was very simple. Prayer with the relics of Bl. Francis Xavier Seelos was followed by a sudden, very natural change in me that simply reversed nature ... so it seemed to me. I couldn't walk on my own, and now I can. I couldn't kneel down at a prayer desk without enormous effort and the assistance of two strong people, and then I could kneel down on my own though perhaps not as easily as a normal healthy person could. God gave me back a substantial portion of my health so I could get out of bed and return to the land of the living. 
 My return has not been greeted with universal cheer however. There are those who regard it as very disturbing to their religious or philosophical views. That, of course, is their problem, and long ago I accepted that for most people in religious or academic authority I am not exactly an answer to prayer. Healings and apparitions are very unwelcome to those who like to keep things under tight control, but God is wild, will not be tamed by us, and will not be boxed and kept under ecclesial or political wraps. His order is a thing we can only glimpse working its purpose out as year succeeds to year, and for that His order and governance beyond what we can apprehend I praise Him.
3)  One of my favourite hymns comes from the great Lutheran hymn tradition although I otherwise do not get much from the author-theologian's prose writing:   "Lord God, We All to Thee Give Praise"  by Philipp Melanchthon, 1497-1560
Lord God, we all to Thee give praise,
Thanksgivings meet to Thee we raise,
That angel hosts Thou didst create
Around Thy glorious throne to wait.
They shine with light and heavenly grace
And constantly behold Thy face;
They heed Thy voice, they know it well,
In godly wisdom they excel.
They never rest nor sleep as we;
Their whole delight is but to be
With Thee, Lord Jesus, and to keep
Thy little flock, Thy lambs and sheep.
The ancient Dragon is their foe;
His envy and his wrath they know.
It always is his aim and pride
Thy Christian people to divide.
As he of old deceived the world
And into sin and death has hurled,
So he now subtly lies in wait
To ruin school and Church and State.
A Roaring lion, round he goes,
No halt nor rest he ever knows;
He seeks the Christians to devour
And slay them in his dreadful power.
But watchful is the angel band
That follows Christ on every hand
To guard His people where they go
And break the counsel of the Foe.
For this, now and in days to be,
Our praise shall rise, O Lord, to Thee,
Whom all the angel hosts adore
With grateful songs forevermore.
Hymn #254 from The Lutheran Hymnal
Text: Heb. 1: 14
Author: Philipp Melanchthon, 1543, cento
Translated by: Paul Eber, 1554
Translated into English by: Emanuel Cronenwett, 1880, alt.
Titled: "Dicimus grates tibi, summe rerum"
Tune: "Old Hundredth"
1st Published in: Genevan Psalter, 1551
4) Romans 11:17-21
Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)

17 And if some of the branches be broken, and thou, being a wild olive, art ingrafted in them, and art made partaker of the root, and of the fatness of the olive tree, 18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. 19 Thou wilt say then: The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. 20 Well: because of unbelief they were broken off. But thou standest by faith: be not highminded, but fear. 21 For if God hath not spared the natural branches, fear lest perhaps he also spare not thee.
+ + +
From J.B. Phillips' New Testament
Romans 11:17-21  
But if some of the branches of the tree have been broken off, while you, like shoots of wild-olive, have been grafted in, and don’t share like a natural branch the rich nourishment of the root, don’t let yourself feel superior to those former branches. (If you feel inclined that way, remind yourself that you do not support the root, the root supports you.) You may make the natural retort, “But the branches were broken off to make room for my grafting!” It wasn’t quite like that. They lost their position because they failed to believe; you only maintain yours because you do believe. The situation does not call for conceit but for a certain wholesome fear. If God removed the natural branches for a good reason, take care that you don’t give him the same reason for removing you.
5)  For one who suffers, suffering in itself is meaningless. No one should put up with suffering instead of making whatever change in themselves they can make to direct their steps 'from the dark into the light'. But there are kinds of suffering that cannot be easily altered, and despair follows where nothing can be done. But the Catholic hope whose roots are Hebrew is that suffering can be offered up to God as a personal sacrifice. And offering one's pain, grief, sorrow, suffering into God's hands gives one the power to find value and meaning in the pain.

In the Catholic tradition of the universal Church and in light of Jesus' self-offering and oblation, we can join our suffering whatever it may be to His and ask that our self-offering likewise may be for the life of the world and the salvation of every soul.

We are persuaded and have every confidence that such offerings in God's hands are transformed from the tragic circumstances of this world into the glorious possibilities of God in Christ Jesus. What we offer up to God brings a blessing to everyone in need. In this way someone who suffers becomes greatly empowered as an engine of compassion for others and participates in the redemption of our kind through the sacrificial love of God made known in Jesus of Nazareth.

To believers in God, I ask this: can you imagine then the great power of God that would be released in the world if we also with daily devotion offer up into God's hands our joys and our thankfulness for the good in our lives?
 +Te Deum laudamus