Self-Evident Truth

In the United States, we will soon be celebrating Independence Day. Sometimes, we, moderns, think that the United States was formed without any thought of God. Americans, we believe, are self-made Men who will not submit to the authority of any other country – or any god. If that’s what you believe, then you don’t understand the very foundation of the United States of America at all.

Our foundation is the Created Order, which is truth, to which we are subject. We don’t just do what we do because we feel like doing it. The rational mind understands cause and effect, in the truth of order. And the rational mind also understands that faith is not without reason.

Sharing here two quotes. Let’s start with a famous one that we will credit to Thomas Jefferson. And then go on to a quote that I was surprised to learn came from jovial Benjamin Franklin. I invite you to reflect upon them as you will, this Independence Day. But, try not to stray from the truth of the quotes themselves. Following each are some of my own reflections…

declaration-of-independence-quote

And the next part is important to remember, Continue reading

First Friday and The Revolution

Who is the head of your life?

I want to be revolutionized. WatchFireworks-iStockI want my failures and ineptitude, my procrastination, sloth, pride, and fear to be things of the past – and my present to be full of strength and talent, courage and action, grace and active wisdom. Freed from the chains of yesterday, I want to project firmly into the future everything good and beautiful – and necessary – about me. I need something to transpire that will transform me completely into who I was created to be.

Let us be revolutionary.

Around 30 AD, a coarsely dressed, wild man of the desert proclaimed an uprising. With sharp clarity, he laid bare the corruption and tyranny of those in authority and relentlessly sliced deeper into the conscience of every man and woman. “Metanoia!” he shouted at the people. “Change! Be converted! Be revolutionized!” This man, named John, prepared the way for an absolute rebellion – not against a ruler of a nation or even an institution or government, but against the very darkness that lurks in the hearts of human beings. This darkness that seeps into the mind and soul, dividing one person from another, obfuscating the fullness of reality, and obliterating the human drive for sanctity – this darkness John saw as a slave master, locking the chains of selfishness upon people for generation after generation.

The tyranny of greed and conceit must be vanquished from the hearts of human beings if anyone is ever to be truly free. And the Light of the World must be allowed to tear down the walls of division, invade the plains of blind apathy, and create an insurgency of real love in the human heart. This is our destiny, this is our reason for being, our identity, the point of our lives. No longer will we be dependent upon the fleeting pleasures of the flesh and fickle accolades of the crowd – we will be independent beings, standing boldly in the truth of who we are, giving full allegiance only to the image in which we are created.

“Live free or die.”

John was not afraid to fire the first shot in this revolution. He fought for change and saw it coming – not the kind of change that politicians talk about and promise, but real change that is a total change of heart and will. In the greatest of rebellions, what John and his followers sought was a mutiny in every person’s soul: throw out the corrupting limitations of self-centered thinking and usher in the dominion of holiness, of grace, of loving kindness and true beauty. No earthly king or queen, no bed of silk or bag of gold should rule the human heart – only the Maker of the human heart should rule, so that every human being can live freely in the ways of truth and fulfillment, undaunted by suffering or darkness and guided by eternal power.

The zealous man, now known as St. John the Baptist, had the courage to rally the people in this uprising and stare down the caravaggio-salome-receives-head-saint-john-baptist-NG6389-fmenemy even as it bore down on him in his own heart. He never gave up. He never surrendered. And he lost his head for it. But, he was willing to suffer the loss of his head because he knew who the true Head is, who the ineffable and pure leader is. And he would rather die than suffer the enslavement of untruth.

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

I am taking St. John the Baptist as my facilitator for this First Friday of July – which is the Fourth of July, Independence Day. On this day, the US celebrates the signing of a document – a document that could be said to have revolutionized the world. In 1776 AD, the ordinary citizens of the British colonies in America elected representatives to get together and tell off the tyrannical King of England. What those chosen officials did was make and sign a Declaration of Independence – and start a revolution. In remembrance of that day, we claim to celebrate freedom. But do we? We enjoy picnics and cookouts with lots of hot dogs and ice cream. But, on the next day, are we allowing our neighbors to starve from want of food or care? We shoot off brilliant fireworks, exploding in the night sky. But do we light up the darkness of our intellects, of our souls? We celebrate a change of leaders in the governing of our nation – but have we had a leadership conversion in our own personal lives?

Who is the leader of my life? Is it my self-indulgence, my apathy, and my vanity that is telling me what to do?

Who do I say that I am? My self-centeredness, my greed and my pride must decrease – and my reason for being, my will for my true destiny, my love and my light must increase. Who is my light? The Light of the World.

A man named John was sent from God.

He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.

He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world,

and the world came to be through him,

but the world did not know him.

He came to what was his own,

but his own people did not accept him.

But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name,

who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.

And the Word became flesh

and made his dwelling among us,

and we saw his glory,

the glory as of the Father’s only Son,

full of grace and truth.

John testified to him and cried out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’” (John 1:6-15.)

St. John the Baptist testified to the Light and he was revolutionized, receiving grace upon grace.The-Baptism-Of-Christ

Will I?

Promise and Prayer

 

The one thing that I know I will do is participate in the Sacred Liturgy of the Mass this First Friday, the Fourth of July. The secular world thinks that freedom and independence cannot be gained through religion – but they are still slaves in the darkness of the old order, while I am being called out into the Light.

Lord,

start an uprising in my heart

today and every day.

Make a rebel out of me

so that I will

be radical and do something daring:

loving the unlovable,

teaching the unteachable,

forgiving the unforgivable,

and  believe the unbelievable  –

for you are the Head, and your Light is my life.

© Christina Chase 2014

All Rights Reserved

The Caged Bird Sings

The diseased girl in the wheelchair, who is too weak and tired to go to school anymore, stays home and mourns what she cannot have.  She is much loved and well cared for, but… the world, the great big world out there, is not hers to discover, hers to explore.  Teenaged dreams locked up in atrophying muscles learn to be still… learn to sing…
On this day, a great poet has passed into eternity.  In tribute to her and to her words, which found me in my cage when I needed them most, I am sharing here the heart of Maya Angelou expressed in one of her many poems:

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

Maya Angelou

May she rest in peace – for now she soars to heaven as she sings…

In the Cloud of Glory a Portal Opens

Mary Series: Part 2 (continued from A Stranger Appears… )

        First troubled with wonder and puzzlement, then sincerely trusting and deeply curious, a young woman’s response to a strange visitor is about to change the world. Of all the human beings to be conceived in all of time, she is the single one chosen for the single most earth-shattering – and earth-redeeming – mission to be given to a creature born of woman and man. The divine message has been revealed to Mary, kneeling on the earthen floor of her childhood home, her hands lying still on her lap, bits of bread dough on her fingers, that she will conceive and bear a son whose kingdom will have no end: the Messiah, the Chosen One of God. Mary wants to know how she, as a virgin, will become pregnant – not because she is doubtful, but because she has faith in God’s word. She just wants to know, in simple and beautiful human curiosity, how it is going to happen. Mary’s angelic visitor, Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, does not punish Mary for asking such an honest and faithful question. Her innocence is rewarded with an answer.

        To Mary, the angel says, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.”
Finished speaking, the angel waits for Mary’s response.

        Thoughts blow through Mary’s practical mind like clouds are borne across the May sky.  So, Joseph will not be the father – but, will he know? Will an angel tell him of the pregnancy so that he will not be alarmed and hurt when her body begins to swell with the child? Or will the origin of the child be kept as secret as it is mysterious and, so, she be accused of the adulterous betrayal of her betrothed, the punishment for which is death by stoning? …Son of God… And hear: Elizabeth’s long prayed for baby is given to her – wondrous news from Almighty God!  The thought vapors of Mary’s mind do not gather and darken in storm but, rather, are dissipated by the constant current of Mary’s will, enabling the light to shine clearly.

        For with God nothing will be impossible.

        Mary, ever faithful to first love purely given to her in the spark of her life, believes. She has been told that it is Divine Will for her to bear the Son of God, who shall be conceived in her womb by the power of God overshadowing her. Whatever human interference may try to thwart the plan of Providence, Mary is willing to place herself in God’s hands. No matter the earthly consequences, the cost or risk to her personal life, Mary wills not to be deceived. For, she knows that life itself is the gratuitous gift of Eternal Being – gift created by, with, and for, love. And she knows who she is – all that she has been and all she ever will be – the eternal servant of love. It is because of her great love that Mary will refuse God nothing. She is entirely willing to give all of herself away… to be the poorest of the poor, the lowest of the low, an empty vessel to be filled with God’s incarnate love.
Mary knows exactly who she is and she wills never to forget.

        Never has a human being been more free than Mary is in this moment. Unfettered, unchained, unbound is she by any self-centered concern that is but folly to one who experiences true freedom. Created in the divine image and likeness, Mary most perfectly reflects the divine power of freewill and intellect and imagination in the clarity of her mind, body, heart, and soul, here and now. God wills her total freedom. She must choose. All Creation, the natural and the supernatural, suspends.

        Holding back nothing, with clear eyes, light breath, tender mouth, and her palms upturned, Mary raises her heart to the messenger of Divinity, thus lifted up while still on her knees on the earthen floor. “Behold,” she says simply and wholeheartedly, spreading her arms open wide, “I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”

        Thus, in pure, free abandonment, Mary completely gives over her person and her life to God, so that God may do with her whatsoever He wills. At the sounding of her last syllables, your word, the angel of the Lord bows down low before Mary and then departs from her, as a lamp light departs with the rising of the sun.

        In the sleepy village of Nazareth, a mist is forming, laden with the fragrance of lilies and roses. Some see it merely as steam rising from cooking pots and others as smoke from the trash burning fire. The mist is rolling sweetly and with greater intensity around the home of the virgin named Mary. Within, Mary quietly, with the utmost peace in all her mind, heart, and body, every limb, continues the making of the day’s bread. As the mist enters like a cloud through the open door, the woman presses her small hands deeply into the dough and exhales, hushed, consumed by love.

* * *

        All cruelty cease in this moment, all pride vanish on earth, for what has begun with the free assent of a human being to God – Restoration to Paradise begins its rush into the world! A modest child thinks not of herself, but only of the Holy Other and, purely giving herself away, allows a portal to be opened through which God Godself enters mortality by assuming human nature.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. …the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters “…the Power of the Most High will overshadow you…” “There I will meet with you… I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat” …the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. … And the Word became flesh… in him the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily….

        Glory to God in the Highest! Thy Shekinah glory…

        Yes, let there be, in this fraction of a moment in the Eternal Now, not one act of tyranny nor deception nor apathy among mortals – for Truth Itself, Love Itself, is willingly taking on human flesh in utter humility, and thereby sanctifying us all. Oh, glorious heartbeat across the blue and green earth that, in this moment when time was pierced and space was torn, beat with remembered purity and freedom, when human will was married with the will of the Divine and Divine Incarnate fruit takes form! …Yet… only for that gleam of a moment, only for one quick beat of the heart, and then, humans, unaware of the actual living presence of their Savior in the womb of the Blessed Virgin, unaware of the Kingdom of God quickening, return to their forgetfulness, neglectfulness, resuming their fallen, self-centered ways, all…

        …But for Mary…

   Christina Chase

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 Scripture quotes in italics  taken from John 1:1, Genesis 1:2, Luke 1:35, Exodus 25:22, Leviticus 16:2, Exodus 40:34, John 1:14, Philippians 2:7-8