The Heart Of Silence

          It is in the silence that we are called, the mystical whisper that joys and gladden the heart, where joy and peace grip the heart in the midst of human emptiness that we know we are loved and held in inexhaustible mercy and Love. It is in the silence where no words are audible but the silent beating of the heart, for it is the place where no path remains of human designs, but the path of God. It is here where nothing remains, the place where nothing remains of “us,” but the silent beating of our heart, that resides the Heart of Perfect Silence, for it speaks no audible words, yet it is the only True Word. Though the silence does not speak with words that are audible, it alone speaks of one thing and that is the presence of God. It’s the Heart that is silent, a Heart that when all else passes, it remains. It is the place of our being, for all life begins and ends in silence, in which the Eucharist, the Heart of Perfect Silence is our beginning and ending.

          All life at its beginning speaks in silence. Just as Christ, who is True word, at the moment of His conception, spoke not with words to be heard, but instead spoke with words of the Heart, filling Mary’s heart with song and filling her lungs with praise, so too, the moment of our conception. The very presence of our being spoke, not with words to be heard, but in silence spoke words of the heart that brought great joy to many. All life ends in silence, for there are no spoken words, and all that remains is love born in their lives, the words of the heart, for the words of the heart is perfect desire and love. Just as Christ died on the cross and accomplished His mission. It was not by a word to be heard that it was accomplished. It was accomplished by a word by His own Heart, by an act of the Heart, out of which comes a pure act of desire and love. It was only by the inaudible words of the Heart of Christ that the hearts of men could listen, for as His Heart was pierced, so ours is pierced, so as He is broken, we are broken and made whole, so as He is poured out in compassion, so are we poured out in compassion. He is the Heart that has come in the form of bread to be broken with us and the cup of compassion to be poured out for us. When suffering draws us into the depths of silence, where we can no longer grasp at life, this is where the true heart is revealed and the words of its desire made known. Just as Christ’s Heart was exposed before all on the cross, it is here in perfect suffering that the heart is truly exposed before the world to reveal it’s pure song, to speak the words of the True Heart, in the Eucharist, recreating the hearts of men in perfect desire. It’s here that the power and presence of the Eucharist is made known to the hearts of men, returning the hearts of all into the Heart in which they were once fashioned. It’s here in this silence that we: know suffering, but have everlasting joy; know chaos, but have eternal peace; know anxieties and fears, but have hope beyond all telling; know we are broken and helpless, but have power to move on.

          When we are drawn to the altar of God and the Eucharist is exposed for all to see, all are moved to silence in the very presence of God. It is here in the silence that is the True Reality, for there are no words that we can say that express the reality that He is, but that He is Perfect Presence. It is here that we meet the fulfillment of all our desire, for He is True Desire. It is here that we meet the fullness of our being, for He is True Being. It is here that the words of our mouths are made empty, and all return to the very Word that gave birth to all creation out of silence. For it is here that we remember all that we are before God and that our hearts belong to the Heart of Christ, for He is True Remembrance. Out of our remembrance, we know of His Perfect Presence, not as in that we “know,” but that He knows us, for He is True Knowledge. The only thing we can know is that of God’s presence, and out of knowledge comes understanding, for nothing can be understood unless something is known. The only thing that can be understood is that of God’s desire and Love, not in so much that we “understand,” but that He has desired and loved us, for we are loved and desired beyond all “knowing.” It’s here that all that we were, all that we are, and all that we will be culminates into One Eternal Word spoken of the Heart into the silence, by an act of Love.

          All things then are truly perceived in silence, for He is the Heart of Perfect Silence, whose light blinds us to everything but Him, whose resounding voice deafens us to all but Him, whose all-embracing love paralyzes us to everything but Him, whose sweet goodness deadens our taste of everything, but His goodness. The Eucharist is the Heart of Perfect Silence, for it was only by a heart that the hearts of men would listen. It has spoken in silence throughout all of creation since the beginning, for all of creation sang of its eternal beauty long before words reached the ears of men. Just as Christ was crucified on a tree reaching toward the Father the very source of life and light, so every tree reaches for the sun, its life and light, for creation speaks of the reality of the True Reality that created it. True life is in True silence, for what words can the mouth say that the Heart can exclaim, and what words can the mouth exclaim that the Heart can proclaim.

Contributed by Bro. Nicholas

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A Closed Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste

Having spent time with one of the most closed-minded person I have ever met, I began to question what rewards a person received for having a closed mind.

The rewards of an “Open” mind are obvious: personal enrichment, new insights, entertainment, growth, stability through diversity, broad new horizons, etc.

The rewards of a “Closed” mind are not quite so obvious but, nevertheless, just as important to some people.

The closed mind enjoys its narrow-minded view of the world.  It is less taxing, less complicated, and gives a better feeling of control over life and other people. When a closed-minded person says “No” to something, they usually say, not just No, but “Oh, no”.  Meaning, they won’t even trouble themselves with consideration of the issue.  That certainly simplifies their life and provides that all important feeling of control.

While life is certainly simpler for a closed-minded person, it is much more complicated for the person who loves them and spends time around them. People who live with a closed-minded person must always be on alert, walking on egg shells, to navigate the mind field that is every day life, less they offend the closed-minded soul.  Few are able to cope and either turn off the closed-minded person literally or figuratively.  But, alas, the closed-minded person continues feeling good about themselves and writing off the thoughts & feelings of everyone else.

Let us do an internal examination to insure we have not fallen into that closed-minded trap, where we cut off all opportunities for growth for ourselves and otherwise impose ourselves on the good-hearted others in our lives.

What a sad way to live life, totally self-sufficient in our own mind, while life and all it has to offer is ignored.

Don’t Let Me Jump To Conclusions

There’s a story about a man riding on the subway with three small children who were very rambunctious. Their fellow riders were quickly annoyed and began to grumble among themselves about the disturbance they were causing. People trying to read their papers and books and iPads were especially unhappy.

Finally, one really distraught person approached the father and began to read him the riot act about his children and demanded that he intervene and quiet them down. All the other passengers smiled and nodded their heads agreeing.

The young father looked up with red rimmed eyes and apologized profusely to the complainer and all the others. Then he stated that he and the kids had just lost his wife and their mother who had died about an hour ago in the hospital and they were on their way home. He noted that he didn’t know how he was going to carry on and guessed that the kids behavior was probably because they didn’t know how to deal with the loss of their mother. At that point, all heads dropped to stare at their laps. The mood in the car shifted quickly from righteous indignation to profound sorrow and embarrassment.

That is a demonstration of a paradigm shift.

That is why God says not to judge another, we never really know what is going on beneath the surface of their lives.

God’s Healing Love, a homily

Homily, Sept 08-09, Cycle B, 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (God Heals Us)

The over-riding theme of today’s scripture is one of God’s Healing Love.

Usually when we think of God’s love for us, we tend to focus on His supreme act of love, His death for us on the cross.

While it is true, the cross is the greatest act of God’s love, it is not the only way we experience His care & concern for us.

The First Reading from Isaiah reminds us that the Messiah comes to heal all who are hurting.  The eyes of the blind are opened, the ears of the deaf are cleared, the lame leap like stags & the tongues of the mute don’t just speak, they sing.

While Isaiah initially gives this passage to the Jews as a “Welcome Home From Exile” refrain, it represents the reality of God’s Healing Love for all of us.

And, the emphasis is on the word ALL.  We’re not like the Smothers Brothers arguing about which brother mom loved best – God loves all of us, best…

If we ever find ourselves saying, “Where is God in my life”, be assured He is active wherever we are hurting.  He is always busy trying to help us in that place where we hurt, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual.

And, isn’t that how we ourselves react when a loved one is in pain.  Parents will do everything for their hurting children because they love them so much.

If the sickness of their child is chronic, or even, God forbid, terminal, the parents will pray that they themselves could be sick, instead of their child. Every parent here today has been through that thought process. The same is true with God. He sent Jesus for us, His children.

He uses doctors, medicine, and sometime even divine intervention, because He is all about trying to help us where we hurt.

True, He often uses our vulnerability during difficult times to affect changes in our lives that will lead us forward in our maturing process & our relationship with Him.  Because sometimes it is only during the vulnerability of pain that we are even open to His efforts.

His consuming desire is for us to experience His love.  He still wants us to live His original plan for us before we fell from grace in the Garden of Eden.

In our Responsorial Psalm, Psalm 146, that thought of God wanting to help us, continues with verses like:

–     He gives food to the hungry: for knowledge, opportunity, freedom

–     He sets captives free: from bad decisions, influences, trapped in jobs

–     The Lord raises up those who are bowed down.

So, in the OT, we hear clearly, God’s promise to show us His love.

The same is true in the NT. In our Gospel from Mark, the people brought to Jesus a deaf Man who had a speech impediment.  Jesus took him off by himself, away from the crowd & proceeded to touch the man’s ears and his tongue.

He looked up to heaven and said Ephphatha, “Be Opened”.  And, his ears were opened and the speech impediment was removed.

By now, we should all be aware of the elephant in the room.  Having described how loving God is toward us, the obvious elephant in the room is the big question:    “If God is so loving, why does so much bad stuff happen to me?”

That’s a big question. That’s a difficult question to answer.

Therefore, I’m tempted to turn it over to Msgr. Kenneally to answer that difficult question.

Actually, a book was written years ago entitled, “Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People”, by a Jewish Rabbi, Harold Kushner, that deals with that very question.

Rabbi Kushner starts off by asking another question, “Who says we’re all that good?” Then he points out that, God often uses the “Tool of Trouble” to help form us in a way that is for our ultimate good.  Years later, we see, with the benefit of hindsight, how the troubled time was God moving us on to better circumstances.

Kushner also says, God is often powerless to help us because He has absolute respect for our own free-will & this hampers some of His attempts to help us.   Also, He will not violate the laws of nature He has carefully built into this world.

For example: A saintly person driving at 90 mph around a curve will be catapulted into the marsh by the lack of Centripetal force just as surely as a sinner will.  And, so on, you get the picture.

Sometimes, in spite of everything, we get down on ourselves.  Our lives are not working out the way we planned.  We are not happy with ourselves, not happy with our behavior & let stress bring out the worst in us.

At those times, we cannot understand how God could possibly love us, but He does. His love, His mercy, His compassion are beyond our understanding.

He knows each of us better than we know ourselves.  He sees how we are trying & how we are disappointed in ourselves when we fail.

He sees each of us as we are, beneath all the bravado, beneath the illusions we create for others & ourselves.  He sees beneath the material trappings of our lives.

God sees the goodness of every person.  He sees His own image & likeness in all of us.  He knows how that image of Himself can be clouded & hidden behind a door of pain – another reason why He wants to heal us, so others can see Him, in us, more clearly.

We need to reach out to others who are hurting. And, there is a lot going on below the surface of this Parish – people helping people – serving one another.

We need to let our hands be an extension of His healing hands as we reach out to one another.

Our God is a God of love…at levels we can’t even see.