Sunday, November 16, 2014

From the Summit of the Mountain

Now the peace of the mountain envelops me. I know that God is indeed in our midst, in the midst of all. He has taken human form for love of us. Then I see Love fall upon the mountain. The night suddenly glows with a tremendous light. From the summit of the mountain arises a cross, and spontaneously I cry out, “See how much he loves us. He died on it.” Then the cross disappears.

From the summit of the mountain the Lord comes, dressed as an ordinary person. As he approaches, love comes from his heart, like a sea of waves, to the heart of every man, woman, and child. He seems to embrace each one. His descent is luminous, full of love and peace and joy; he is happy to be with us again. At his descent I hear a chant in many languages: “Christ is risen! Truly he is risen!” The great joy of Easter overcomes me.

It is a lovely spring day. The apple blossoms are perfuming everything with their fragrance. Out in the forest a thousand little trees, whose existence one would hardly suspect, are also blossoming and sending their perfume across a renewed world. My heart rejoices. The air is filled with incense, which the trees, wild and cultivated, are offering the Lord. Its fragrance is almost incredible.

As I look from the heights, I see people gathered together around a bishop or a priest, and I hear the chants of a choir jubilantly proclaiming the Creed. I seem suspended between heaven and earth, because I never expected this to happen, though I prayed that it would.

However, there are dark clouds gathering somewhere. On one hand I hear the Credo sung beautifully, and on the other hand I hear the moans and cries of the dying. While some people are singing the Credo, I turn my head and see killing. Dark clouds burst and seem to be raining dead people. I have never seen so many dead people, even when I was in a war. 

They come from everywhere. Newspapers declare deaths: a hundred a day here, two hundred there. Martyrs seem to be ascending the golden stairs that the blacks used to sing about. I don’t know what to do. My heart rejoices for those who sing the Credo and walk in the footsteps of Christ. My heart dies a thousand deaths, and is bathed in its own tears, because one brother is killing another brother. I am bewildered and lost. The beautiful incense offered to God by all the trees and bushes is somehow mixed with the scent of death.

I had already been preparing myself to follow in Christ’s footsteps of pain. That is a Russian idea, of course, but probably also the idea of all Catholics: that the joy of Easter is followed by the pain of the Cross, and the pain of the Cross is followed by the joy of Easter. It is a circle that is unbreakable for anyone who believes in God. I believe in him. I believe in him with my whole heart, my whole mind, my whole being.
Catherine de Hueck Doherty, Urodivoi

Reflection – This is the end of the book, the section I’ve always called ‘the fool’s reward. Most of Urodivoi is about Catherine weeping, crying out, beholding the pain of the world, being rejected, lying on stones, crawling up mountains. It's not exactly a cheery book, although I find it incredibly beautiful. But it all comes to this in the end.

She ends with this profound vision of what we come to if we are willing to stand with Christ in the world and for the world, willing to be the love of the heart of Jesus for the world. Really, willing to be that love even for one person, even for one suffering person.

‘From the summit of the mountain, the Lord comes, dressed as an ordinary person… the great joy of Easter overcomes me.’ This is what He gives us in this life, even as we live between the cross and the resurrection, between the very real and deep sufferings of humanity in our times and the equally real signs of hope—faith reborn, people coming to life, joy and gladness springing up in human hearts.

But in the midst of it all, if we have chosen Him and this life of foolish love and faith, there is Himself, Jesus, with us. And our whole life taken up into the mystery of His life, our whole being becoming a truly endless sharing in His.

The book ends with what I find a most beautiful statement. “I believe in him. I believe in him with my whole heart, my whole mind, my whole being.” And since this excerpt from Catherine is long, and the day awaiting me is even longer, I will simply leave it there for now. May we believe in Him with our whole hearts, minds, beings. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. Thank-you, Fr. Denis, for these reflections on this book!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.