Christmas is coming soon. Yes, I said it. And much as we are asked to remember “The Reason for the Season”, I am celebrating the upcoming 3-year anniversary of this blog by remembering the reason why I started this thing in the first place… Continue reading
“But your eyes are blessed, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly, I’m telling you, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” ~ Jesus, God Incarnate
Do we know how good we have it?
The brightest geniuses from all antiquity searched in vain for what we have, though we may be neither clever nor brilliant. Even in the common era, now, and into the future, great minds will peer into the depths of lifeforms and the universe, scrutinizing matter and energy looking for something that their fine intellects and technologies cannot disclose to them. And yet, we, though we may be neither skilled nor ambitious, have that Something More right before us in loving embrace.
We, who are believers, impeded neither by historic circumstance nor advanced ignorance, have seen and heard Truth in profound intimacy. The Mystery of Ultimate Reality, the reason and meaning of the finite and the infinite, all revealed through the Will of the Uncaused Cause: we are allowed to find the divine Logos – the Word of God – through the Word of God Made Flesh, who became one of us in order to lead us, transform us, and save us from the darkness of our intellects and the weakness of our wills. We hear and we see. This is true Transcendence, not through measurements or calculations or even awe – not through some thing, but through some One.
They long to see what we see and hear what we hear – but they are blind and deaf. Have pity on them, practice true compassion, and, in sharing in the wonder and delight of what we can know in common, let us pray that they may be wholly healed and that we may not shut our eyes and ears to the truth with which we have been blessed.
© 2014 Christina Chase
 Matthew 13:16-17 – Gospel reading from the Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne
Catholic imagery can be beautiful… and also a bit terrifying. Gruesome even. The picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus that I use in the header of my blog is a classic example: a red, pulpy, bleeding heart, gashed, burning on fire at the top, encircled with a barbed-wire-like crown of thorns. Its blood is dripping down to a smaller heart below that is blooming with flowers and fruit. The inscription reads: The Treasures of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is, of course, highly symbolic – but also rather startling and seemingly disconnected from what we see and know in “real” life. It begs the question – What are we supposed to do with an image like this?
I am not consecrated to an image of a fleshy, bloody organ. I am consecrated to Christ, to the fullness of reality – which is terribly beautiful, after all. I have committed myself to more than the material, more than the reducible – I have committed myself to life in its entirety, the physical and the spiritual. I refuse to be one of the surface people, fearfully hiding my power and vulnerability behind a fig leaf, and deceiving myself into thinking that only my five natural senses can detect the fullness of reality. I want to be like Christ. To be like Christ is to be most fully human, to be fully alive as we are created to be. Exploring the Mysteries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is to explore his inner life, the core of who he is – and that is the exploration of the Mysteries of truth, of what is really real. All I’ve ever wanted is the truth.
But, why, then, some may ask, do I not write of the Sacred Heart in all of my posts?
I started this blog when I began my consecrated devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in hopes of more deeply exploring the Mysteries of Christ’s heart – and of my own. This doesn’t mean that every post is going to be directly about my act of consecration, or Jesus, or even Catholicism. But, I do believe that every post that I write is about the Sacred Heart. Not always explicitly, but always. For, to put it as simply and plainly (though also, I understand, as complexly and mysteriously) as possible, Christ is Truth Incarnate. And his Sacred Heart is the heart of truth, the heart of reality. As long as I tell no lies and make no conceit in this blog, striving for the honesty of life and of my mind and soul – then here is Christ. I press my ear to the heart of the universe and listen…
To put it another way:
Christ Jesus presents and embodies the reason for and meaning of reality – because Christ Jesus is the reason for and meaning of reality: God loves Creation into existence, creating human beings with the capacity to naturally and supernaturally receive divine love and to transmit, to share, this love, agape, with others. This interplay of God’s love for humankind and humankind’s loving response to God is perfect in Jesus Christ. For he is fully divine and fully human. This interplay is his interior life, the core of his being – his heart. Therefore, to delve into the Mysteries of being, of life, to delve into the Mysteries of the Divine and the human, to delve into the Mysteries of love, suffering, and joy, is to delve into the Sacred Heart of Jesus – whether we use that term and imagery or not. For Christ is Universal. Every human quest on earth for beauty, justice, goodness, knowledge, wisdom, or peace is a quest for Christ. In every religion, and in no religion, whether spiritually intending or not, I believe that all honest quests for truth and love are seeking what is found in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. And it is the Holy Spirit that inspires, guides, and guards such seeking.
The Catholic Church offers the month of June for special consideration of the Sacred Heart. Therefore, for this First Friday, I take the image of The Treasures of the Sacred Heart of Jesus as my facilitator. In the image, we can see that God’s love pours forth from the Sacred Heart of Jesus to bring our hearts into full flower and fruition. May it serve to remind me, not only of God’s love, but also of the human dimension of that love – and of my own responsibility. Divine incarnate.
– Lord, God, you so love us that you have become one of us, opening your heart for us in all ways. Help me open my heart to you so that you can transform me into a rich garden of blossoming, yielding fruitfulness of body and soul in all my thoughts, words, and actions – all for you, Most Sacred Heart of Jesus!
© 2014 Christina Chase
All Rights Reserved
The ageless question: why is there something instead of nothing? A randomly selected Bible verse led me to explore this thought and more in this post that I’m pressing from my other blog. I wish that I could break the rules of that blog (all writing/editing completed in one hour) and go back to change the last word from “Truth” to “Grace.” But, I won’t. (Just keep it in mind if you read it.) If I ever compile my Bible Bursts into some kind of book, there will definitely be more editing! To that end, I would appreciate any comments or suggestions on any of these posts.
The beloved student laid his head near the heart of the Christ and asked who would be the betrayer. I want to be a student of the Master… Do I bow my head to His Sacred Heart? Do I turn to Him with all the questions, all the seeking, of my life? Or do I merely name drop and speak at Him with my mouth, never listening and drawing succor from His Infinite Depths? Is my love for Him merely something to do – or is it the very core of who I am?
Too easily can one who seeks to follow God end up selling Him out for cash ready at hand. I can either collaborate with those who would put the Christ to death so as to put an end to the call to holiness, unconditional love, bravery, patience, forgiveness… Or I can take up my cross and follow the Christ through my fears, through my temptations, onward and ever deeper into the eternal love of His Sacred Heart, my own heart broken open with the outpouring of His love. I rest my head upon the Heart of Love, the Heart of Reality, the Heart of God, and ask the Master, “Is it I, Lord?”
Sharing here also my Bible Burst for this week (from Matthew 15:8) which inspired this Divine Incarnate post –
In seeking answers to the ageless questions, my exploration can only be partial, because, creature that I am, I cannot fully plumb the depths of truth. “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12.)
There are, I suppose, many ways to answer the question of who I am. Here are 4 common ways in which I could identify myself: A.) Christina Chase. B.) Offspring of Daniel and Francine. C.) Person with a physical disability. D.) Avid thinker, reader, writer, nature watcher, football follower, amateur genealogy researcher, and practitioner of the Christian faith.
Well, there, now. I seem to have told you a lot about myself. But… there’s a problem. Is this who I am – or are these facts about myself? If I’m telling you about me… then, who is this me?
Let’s look more deeply.
A.) The most convenient and predictable answer to “Who are you” is to give one’s name. So: I am Christina Chase. But, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet.” (William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet.) And, hey, what if I witnessed a Mafia murder and had to go into the Witness Protection Program? (What – it could happen….) Then, I could no longer identify myself as Christina Chase. My answer to who I am would have to change. Truly, a name doesn’t speak immutably to who I am. When Moses asked God for His name (perhaps he was expecting Ra or Osiris or Baal or something) God replied, “I AM WHO I AM… Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” This identity is immutable, unchangeable to the core, for God is Being Itself. The word “God” is simply an English word that we use to make things easier when we are considering Ultimate Reality. God who causes to be, creates, by any other name, IS. In this mysterious sense of being, I, having been brought into being, might answer the question of who I am with this: I am a living being .
B.) Another common way of identifying myself would be as the offspring of Daniel and Francine. But – what if I found out in later years that I had been adopted? Would this rock my world so violently that I wouldn’t even know who I was anymore? Do we too often identify ourselves as belonging to another human being? Like Joe’s mother or Rob’s wife or Cindy’s brother or Helen’s child. Sometimes, people who do this for too long say that they lose the sense of who they are. We are, naturally, social creatures and belonging is part of who we are – perhaps there’s nothing wrong with this kind of identification. But… to whom do I really belong? If I’m going to identify myself in the depths of my heart, in an infinite and eternal way, then I should refer to my primary relationship – my very source relationship. Therefore, I am a child of God.
C.) Many people identify themselves by their professions: I am a plumber, I am a teacher, I am a judge, I am a sales rep. I was once a student, but the progression of my motorneuron disease severely weakened me so that I could not devote functional amounts of time to reading and writing. (I now use a dictation system, but still can’t stay in the right positions to use it for very long.) Having a defective gene that causes severe physical disability, I could say that I am disabled. But, I know that’s not who I am. If a plumber, teacher, judge, or sales rep becomes injured or ill and can no longer do the same job – does that person stop being who he or she is? People can feel a kind of loss of identity in these kinds of circumstances and they certainly have my sympathy – but the change doesn’t make the person someone else. We should never define ourselves by what we can’t do, if we ever want to know who we truly are. And what we do is not who we are.
D.) That brings us to my list of some of the things that I enjoy doing. But, since what I do is not who I am, let’s look at this as a list of joys. We could say that these are things that speak to me, touch me deeply, or make me feel alive – all common phrases that we use for the passions, hobbies, and appreciations of our lives. I used to enjoy drawing very much – until the progression of my disease rendered my always delicate hands to weak. So, I also lost this little joy. What if… What if I suffered a traumatic brain injury and lost my ability to see… to hear… to comprehend…? How would I then consume beauty or ponder truth? This is, to me, the most difficult question. It’s a frightening situation that any one of us could find ourselves in: able to survive but unable to live in the way that we once knew as living. Would I no longer be me? Is who I am completely dependent upon communication with other humans and intellectual capacity? Who is “I”?
Who is the I that says – my life, my body, my choice, my family, my talents, my joys, my thoughts, my cheeseburger? Who am I?
Getting a bit mystical now…
I am a dewdrop upon a spider’s web, becoming clear in shape in a moment’s suspension, so that the sun’s light may shine through in brilliant definition.
Hopefully, this doesn’t sound like a pantheistic kind of understanding – for I do not believe that we are emanations of the same being, merging, submerging, reemerging. No. What I know is that each human being is a unique individual. And we all have the same Source. I didn’t make myself. I was brought into being by the Uncaused Cause; I was particularly made by the Uncreated Creator – who we call God. And I believe that I was intentionally willed into being by Divine Will, created personally in the Divine image and likeness. I am, by nature if not by ability, a rational being, I am a human person. Animated by a spiritual soul – I am of spirit.
I am an image of God.
As an image of God, I am an image of truth: for everything that is comes from God – and what is unchangeably true but God who IS, always and forever? As an image of God, I am an image of love: for God willingly gave of Godself in creating the universe and in creating each one of us in the Divine Likeness with the gift of free will and an imperishable soul. Although we humans inherently use our free will to turn away from truth and to turn away from love – thinking that we will invent ourselves and claim the world as our own – God calls us back to truth and love, calls us back to Godself so that we may be fully and truly ourselves, fulfilled as Divine Images. By becoming one of us through the Mystery of the Incarnation, Christ, who is God Incarnate, sanctifies all of humanity, all of humankind, no matter what our physical, mental, or emotional capacities. Through his love, Christ restores our spiritual capacity. Only in our spiritual capacity can we have any kind of knowledge of who we are. We know only in part and what we know is not something that we can see in our DNA or that we can put in a resume or social media profile. “Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I am fully known.” Redeemed and restored by Christ, we will come to know the Father, we will be brought into the infinitely intimate presence of God when we are raised up from mere facts and share in the glory of Christ. Then we will see ourselves as God sees us and know completely to whom we belong. We are and we will be.
Above, in my list of joys, I stated that I am a practitioner of the Christian faith. Even if I lost my ability to practice – which is a doing thing – read the Bible, attend Church liturgy, receive Sacraments, or pray with any kind of comprehension, this is one identity that I can only lose if I choose to. When I was baptized I was born anew, born from above – and that’s an indelible seal upon who I am. Beyond the material ability to form words, concepts, and actions, I could still be exactly who God created me to be: an image of God restored through Christ – God’s child.