Monday, January 5, 2009

Like a stick or stone

The usual run of official religious life, means that we live in common and look after each other. We pray in a group and work together as a team. We talk about collaborative ministry.

But do we love each other? Would we dare look into another brother's eye or search his heart and say: “I love you?” I doubt it.

What do we know of relating in love to anyone? How real then, is our expression of our love for God? There is no human ground where one can stand and from there look into the face of Jesus, or raise the heart to heaven and say “My God, love you.”

The run-of-the-mill existence of official organized religious life, left me unconcerned about others in any real meaningful way. I never wept over a brother's troubles. I never cried at his death. Religious life did not encourage one to express feelings or emotions. The rite of Profession in my time, used the expression: From now on, brothers, you are to be like a stick or a stone…”-- and that is indeed, what many of us became,-- and thought it was God's will for us. Those terrible words have been removed from the text as now used.

Only when I found another human being to relate to in deep and intimate celibate love, did I even begin to comprehend the whole notion of loving anyone or much less loving the God who is Love.

Only then, did the Covenant words of Sacred Scripture come alive for me. I came to understand that the Lord had leaned down from heaven and made a marriage with his human creature. Hitherto that text held rather light significance for me. But now when I realize that even as a celibate priest, I can have a marriage of mind and heart and spirit with another human being, does the fire of Divine Love begin to kindle in my soul. I find that all of God's creation is enfolded in this love that holds all things in being. The photo of the sea and the foliage, by Fr. Donagh O'Shea OP is a witness to this creative life-giving granduer of the Lord.

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