September 20, 2015


They did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him.

-       Mark 9: 32

    When we are in a foreign land or place, we are often relieved to find someone who speaks our language. Why? Not because he or she can help us find our way to someplace we want to go, but because they are someone who understands.People who speak the same language share certain thoughts the same way. But God doesn’t speak our language.

   So we enter into that puzzling & perplexing problem for the Christian: How can we know the mind of God? It requires movement, what the saints call a leap, a radical change in the way we think & behave. It is called the leap of faith.

   Leaps take place across streams, on sidewalks, across canyons, but the most daring leap in the life of the soul is the leap into the house of God, into the place where His presence dwells. It is the most daring of leaps because if we should miss through some fault of our own, the fall is the most deadly of all falls – utter silence, the death of the soul.

   Still, the only thing worse than missing is not trying to leap at all. Looking at many congregations on any given Sunday, one could get the impression that there is no leaping going on there at all: the half-hearted singing, the incessant, idle chatter before, during & after Mass which makes prayer into a joke, the tardy arrivals, the early departures, the beach wear & curlers. One wonders if we are not running a kind of spiritual Burger King where bored people come to get their Jesus pills.

   It reminds me of a line from a T.S. Eliot poem about people at an art exhibit: “They come & go & speak of Michelangelo.” Another wag put it this way, “They do it every Sunday, they’ll be alright on Monday; it’s just a little habit they’ve acquired.”

   What’s happening is that we do not understand God’s language, so we are bored. We are so tuned out to the music of the heavenly spheres, & turned off to the vocabulary of the heavenly Jerusalem because we are hypnotized by the pettiness, greed, glitter, violence, & self-indulgence of the earthly city. English has become much more dead than any so-called dead language because we don’t know what to say with it. Ecstasy inspires eloquence, & bitter suffering bitter eloquence. But anxiety & frustration inflict speechlessness. The problem is that the speechlessness of the confused person does not mean silence. It simply means that words are transformed from symbols of meaning into a smokescreen for one’s inability to think, to cope.

   For the Christian soul, words have become revelation, giving them a meaning they never had before. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are His ways our ways. If we are going to learn them, we have to leap out of a mind that thinks only one way, & leap out of eyes that only see one way. This does not mean leaping out of our mind altogether. C. K. Chesterton tells us that “The mad man is not the one who has lost his reason, but who has lost everything except his reason.” Such a one is the tyrant of his own soul who cannot think beyond words & numbers, who forces himself to be happy in a secular, breathless & spiritless culture, the one who takes the whip of rationalism & beats out all hope & all altruism, who is fascinated with trivia & never bored with boredom.

   The mind of God can be entered in inconspicuous stillness: “Be still & know that I am God.” Unfortunately, we’ve become too hypnotized by busyness & technology to appreciate that fact.  AMEN!