Friday, December 11, 2015

Reed of God ~ Fugue

I have been trying to write something for several days, but just have not been able to find the time, and in a little over an hour, I'm going to leave to spend the weekend in a hermitage, so I'm going to keep this brief. I'm also pretty sure that most of y'all don't have much time either.

 This section begins with a lovely meditation on the life of Christ imagined as a musical composition. It's much better just read or heard than talked about though, so I'm not going to talk about it, but just recommend that if you haven't read it, you find a quiet place and sit down and do so. Or better yet, I have been meaning to mention that Reed of God is available as an audio book and it's well worth listening to, especially for meditative sections like this one.

The main passage that I wanted to write about was this one.
Experience has taught us that war simplifies life. Every individual would experience some equivalent of the Passion even if there were no war; but war makes it visible and even simple, and shows us how the Passion of Christ can be each one's individual secret and at the same time something shared by the whole world.
It is a moment in which the world needs great draughts of supernatural life, needs the Christ-life to be poured into it, as truly and as urgently as a wounded soldier drained of his blood needs a blood transfusion.
In many souls, for this very reason, Christ will say: "It was for this hour that I came into this world."
Although we are not living in the middle of the kind of war that Caryll Houselander was enduring in the 1940s in England, we are certainly surrounded by wars and the threat of violence. And, of course, there is a great ideological war being waged against our culture and our faith, and we, just as much as people in during WWII, need those "great draughts of supernatural life."

It is the last sentence that strikes me though. Just as Christ said that he came into the world for this hour, he would say to us that we--each one of us--came into the world for this hour--December of 2015.

Whether you are a young mother, a teacher, an electrician, a retired person--whoever and wherever you are--you are here to give birth to Christ in the world, and as Miss Houselander says, you can only do this by unity with the Holy Spirit. That is why it is so important to find some kind of space in our days to create that emptiness in our souls.

Yesterday's gospel was from Matthew 11, the chapter that says, "...the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force." That is such an enigmatic passage, but it is increasingly clear to me that unless we confront the busyness of our lives with violence, we will never be able to reclaim even a moment's silence. I know that it is much easier for me than for many of you, especially those of you who have small children. I'm pretty sure that if, when my children were young, someone who had just told me they were going to spend the next to last weekend before Christmas in a hermitage had told me I needed to find a quiet space in my day, I would have been either terribly amused or terribly angry, but unexpected quiet moments can open up even in the busiest lives, and even a small victory here can make a huge difference.

All of the posts in this series can be found by clicking HERE.
Unfortunately they are in reverse order, so you have to scroll down to get to the beginning.



  1. Perhaps just because it is easier for some of us to find the time, we have to do more violence against our acedia. Thank you for an important admonition.

  2. I finally got caught up in the reading tonight. And you picked one of the passages that most stood out to me. And then while reading, I was thinking about you being up there in that hermitage, one of my beloved quiet places, and how I've managed to fall out of my rhythm of getting away. So reading this tonight feels as if you were reading my mind tonight, ha.

    I think you know that we lived in Croatia during the war there. And ever since last fall (of 2014), when Mosul was invaded by ISIS, I have found myself thinking often of how unprepared we as a people are for war, should it come to us. But even if not that, how unprepared we are to even think and talk about it happening around us in the world., to even make decisions about taking in refugees. Sometimes when I read or hear people's ideas about what's going on in the world, I remember those years in Croatia, and I think how soft and soggy we are (generally) as a people, compared to the people there, some of whom had already lived through both world wars. But most of all I think of the long nights when I didn't sleep and simply lay awake reciting Psalm 23 over and over. (This wasn't because of imminent danger, but because at that point I was so depressed my sleep was severely messed up.) It was a miserable time.

    Now, however, I look back on that time and am thankful for those long nights, because there was a helplessness that created intimacy. And because it was Croatia 25 years ago and not the U.S. today, our lives did have spaces of quiet, despite the tremendous amount of time we put into helping refugees and trying to carry on normal work, too.

    Most of all, when I think about those years of war, I know I need more time with God now and all the time. The only way to get through the kind of despair that attacks when the horrors of war are nearby, is to have a hope and a light that can pierce that darkness. "War simplifies life" and makes very clear that "only Christ-bearers can restore the world to life and give humanity back the vitality of love." Thank you for this wonderful book and the reminder that I need to get out to that hermitage myself and be storing up. There is no guarantee that we won't be needed to donate for a blood transfusion in the near future. in fact, it's pretty well guaranteed that we are needed; we just don't often see the need. But war simplifies things, and we are beginning to see more clearly, I hope. I know I am.

    1. Well, I'm home and exhausted. It was very nice, and I will definitely go back. I walked so much that I can no longer walk.

      We'll have to talk soon.


  3. I finally finished reading this section of the book last night! I wish I could claim that it took so long because I was reading slowly and meditatively. 8-) I'm afraid it was just slowly.

    One of the things that really struck me about this section, and I think earlier sections too, is this idea that Mary's consent to God has really affected all of us in a most intimate way, by opening up spiritual realities that we could otherwise not have experienced. There is a very real sense, then, in which she is our spiritual mother, quite apart from her being declared such by Our Lord and by the Church. I suppose this is an obvious point.

    1. I suppose it is, but it does bear being reminded of. Particularly these days, when the implications are not always made explicit in preaching or catechesis.

      Apparently I can comment if I use Firefox as a browser.

  4. I'm glad you are perservering! I will probably pick up where I left off.