Cleansing Fire

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Finding God – How, When, Where

November 21st, 2010, Promulgated by Gen

(It’s been a while since I’ve taken a homiletic tone. Please indulge me.)

How do we find God? When do we find Him? Where do we find Him? Some people look into the sufferings of others, and launch themselves into dedicated and loving service of the poor and the needy. Others look into themselves and find God in their interior silence. Others still invent their own gods which take the place of their Creator. There are several right ways to find God, and just as many (if not more) wrong ways. These are all arrayed for us in our experiences as Catholics in Western New York.

We see the good and the bad, often in the context of spiritual or theological battle. Some will say, “That’s uncharitable. Even if people are in error, it’s not right to point it out. Focus on your own spiritual flaws.” Well, no. That’s not right. It would be a spiritual flaw not to concern ourselves with the long-term spiritual well-being of our brothers and sisters in the Faith. We are our brother’s keeper. In an ideal world, one freed from the petty narcissism we experience here, there would be no disputes. There would be no disagreement. We would see God as He is, and not as we would have Him be.

But this brings us back to the question above. How, when, and where do we find God in this world, a world which is so undeniably flawed through the sinfulness of mankind?

  1. Find God in what gives your joy. This sounds like a hollow platitude, I know. However, it is absolutely correct. God is Himself the pinnacle of all perfection, the summit of all joy. When we do something that creates in us a sense of spiritual fulfillment, this is genuine joy. Sure, someone could say that he finds joy in cheating on his wife. Maybe some priests find joy in whoring the Mass out to their personal agendas. Maybe some nuns find joy in usurping sacerdotal ministries. Maybe. I personally doubt that these individuals feel a deep and profound joy. In fact, I believe that these individuals are so immensely lost and damaged that what they think is joy is actually the numbness which comes from a desensitization to sin. Of course you feel happy if you lose touch with what sin is – the restrictions on our actions are lifted and we are free to dwell in the Godlessness of relativism. True joy comes in submission to the will of God, as brought to us by the Church. For the Catholic, there is no greater summit to life, no joy more perfect, than a prayerfully-received Holy Communion. If you have faith, and can see in the sacred host the God who made you, the God who dwells in your midst, than what else have you need of? Joy is Godly, for God is joy personified. He delights in each prodigal son’s return, and gives Himself to us with such tender love, such sublime joy. And how does He give Himself to us? Through His Church, His Mystical Spouse. When we see His face in the Church’s doctrine, in Her liturgy, in Her canons, we ought to be filled with joy. “The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.”
  2. Find God in beauty. Again, I realize this sounds awfully vague – it isn’t. Just as God is perfect joy, so too is He perfect beauty. If He weren’t, He wouldn’t be God. If we see something which is aesthetically pleasing, we see something which reflects the beauty of God. This being said, there ought to be no more beautiful, more glorious, more transcendent experience than the Holy Mass. At Mass, we can offer all our meager talents to Him who wrought them. He who is beauty descends into our dominion of disfigurement, coming down onto altars which serve, not as thrones for the King of Kings, but as common tables. He comes to us, demeaned and diminished by irreverent “pastoral leaders” whose concerns rest, not with saving souls, but with showing off in their feigned beauty. If Mass is ugly and displeasing, there is something wrong. Doesn’t it make sense that if God is coming down from Heaven to reign from the hands of the priest, we ought to render unto Him some kind of honor fitting of He who is the Alpha and the Omega? When we bang away on our bongos and slink seductively in our pink tights, we are not serving God – we are serving man. What King would want the common and banal? What King would want his court lined with the haughty and the false? What King would permit His servants to treat Him as an equal? God is no equal to us. The sooner we realize this (or rather, the sooner our priests and administrators realize this) the sooner we will see actual beauty in the Mass. I don’t care if you’re a supporter of women’s ordination, or a promoter of theological dissent – you must admit that the goal of Mass is to make the individual feel uplifted. Well, guess what – the only thing uplifting about liturgical dance are the spandex leotards the performers flit around in. If anyone thinks that liturgical dance is genuinely beautiful, that person needs to realize that the Mass isn’t some kind of cultural showcase – it’s the Divine coming down to dwell with Creation, the King sitting in His throne for all to see and worship. Beauty comes from humility, and nothing promotes greater worship than this same sense of humility. No one has a right to call God an equal. When you do that, you’re the one who spits in Our Lord’s face. You’re the one who desecrates the Blessed Sacrament. You’re the one who disobeys Church doctrine because, “I feel called” to. No one is “called” to diminish the splendor, the beauty, of God. No one. To even consider such a thing is demonic. The only ones who ever denied Our Lord his due respect were those who condemned Him, those who scourged Him, those who betrayed Him, those who nailed Him to the Cross, that glorious instrument of our salvation. Remember that the next time you think that Marty Haugen’s music is suitable for a King. It’s not. It’s barely suitable for a drug-addled pan-handler.
  3. Find God in the priest. He is there in persona Christi – in the very person of Christ. His hands were anointed with oil for no other reason than to save souls. When he holds the host in his hands and says to it, “This is my body,” he isn’t doing that for him or his own fulfillment. He’s doing it for yours. The priest is a defender of souls, but how are priests treated by those in authority? They are told that they are equals of the laity in terms of liturgy and theological formation. They are told that they’re merely “assistants” to the woman in the pretty white alb. They are told they are easily replaced. No. This is all wrong, and to support any individual, institution, or mentality that states that the priest is just “another guy” is to lock lips with the Prince of Darkness himself. Salvation flows from Christ through His Church, through those priests who are there when we are born and when we die. Without a priest, the Blessed Sacrament ceases to exist. Without a priest, the Church ceases to exist. Those who presume to absorb priestly duties under the titles of “pastoral leader” or “pastoral administrator” are attacking, knowingly or not, an establishment whose very head is Christ the King, High Priest over all Creation. The office of the priest is not something which is on the same level as being a lay minister, a lay preacher, or a lay administrator. It is set apart, not by any Medieval contrivance or Dark Age rumination, but by God Himself. He charged his Apostles time and time again to act in His stead. If the priest does not recognize that he is, in fact, something special, he ought to. God called him to serve Him and His Church. He called him to bring Him down onto the altar at Mass and hand over to the people in physical form. When we have lay people acting with such casual demeanors as they distribute Holy Communion, the sense of respect for the priest is tarnished. “If we can do it, why do we need him?” You need him because he’s the one who pardons your sins in the name of God. Nancy DeRycke can’t do that. You need him because he’s the one who anoints you when you’re dying. Mr. Rabjohn can’t do that. You need him because he consecrates the bread and wine that they become the Body and Blood of God Himself. Sr. Joan can’t do that. The priest brings God to us – he is a servant, but one whose service enables all of us to be partakes of the Heavenly banquet.

God is not found in ugliness. God is not found in dissent. God is not found in politicking. He is found in our churches, on our altars, in our tabernacles. The sooner we focus on that, the better. All the travesties we experience and discuss, all the sufferings and pains we endure . . . they’re fleeting. But, more importantly, they lead us to God. When we embrace the cross of Christ, we also embrace the splinters – pain purifies us, forges genuine sanctity in our hearts and minds. Through sacrifice and hardship, we see the face of God, a face of joy, a face of beauty, and a face of divine love.

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4 Responses to “Finding God – How, When, Where”

  1. avatar Dr. K says:

    Excellent reflection

    Remember that the next time you think that Marty Haugen’s music is suitable for a King. It’s not. It’s barely suitable for a drug-addled pan-handler.

    LOL!

  2. avatar Eliza10 says:

    What beautiful thoughts. Thank you.

  3. avatar annonymous says:

    Concerning Sr. Joan Sobala, I know there have been pictures of her in the Courier with a processional cross behind her. Is it true what I have heard that her processional cross has a naked woman nailed to it the she calls the “Christa?”

  4. avatar Dr. K says:

    The one at St. Mary downtown, one of her previous assignments, is close to what you describe.


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