Thursday, March 31, 2016

reality belongs to the Father

Whenever I skip writing for a while – whether it is blogging, for an assignment, or even my journal, I notice that I start to feel a bit out of kilter.

I know that some of it is due to the fact that if I’m not writing chances are that I’m also not taking my usual quiet time for prayer. But there’s something about writing in and of itself that feeds what my spirit needs in order to feel balanced.

This is especially true if writing by hand. As my hand moves across the page, invisible yet very real connect-the-dots takes place… one that weaves through and merges my mind-heart-spirit, and often even manifests in how my body feels.

With Spring break, Holy Week, and Easter falling back to back to back this year, I found myself downright craving for silence and a pen in the midst of much busy-ness.

Yet I also noticed -- and had to admit -- that the crankiness that accompanied my yearning for silence had more to do with trying to control an uncontrollable reality than any sort of holy desire for prayerful healing. 

I was not in control. I was annoyed that I was not in control. I did not like the reality that was forced on me. And I even felt justified in my crankiness.

Then on Holy Thursday I had the opportunity to go by myself to the Adoration Vigil that followed that evening’s beautiful Mass… and I read this reflection:

“God our Father,
let us not be gripped
in the fear of our own
let us not be attached
to our own ideas
of how things are
supposed to be.
Let us face the reality
of our lives
with the certainty
that all reality
and all of our lives
belong to you.
Let the Real Presence of the Eucharist
be the beginning
of our welcoming
your real presence
in all of reality”

*emphasis mine

~Father Richard Vera,
“Adoration Vigil for Holy Thursday Night”

+   +   +

One more thing, Easter Sunday was also the birthday of Father Stanley Rother, the Oklahoma missionary martyred in 1981 in the rectory of the Oklahoma Mission at Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala – and the subject of my latest book.

He would have been 81 years old.

Here’s what Father Stanley had to say about seeing the reality of his life as a sign of the Father:

The reality is that we are in danger. But we don’t know when or what form the government will use to further repress the Church. For a month or so now, all classes and group meetings have been canceled. We are working in smaller groups. My associate and myself are seen less in the street, and almost never leave the rectory at night. The tactic of the government has been to kidnap those they think are leaders, torture them and then kill them….

If I should be told to leave here, it would be almost impossible for Father Pedro Bocel to continue here alone. Being a Guatemalan and an Indian, it is more probable that he will be dispatched first.. I do not intend to leave him here to be killed if I have to leave, or if we see that he is in imminent danger, I want to get him out of the Country…

They haven’t killed an American priest yet. Given the situation, I am not ready to leave here just yet. There is a chance the Government will back off. If I get a direct threat or am told to leave, then I will go. But if it is my destiny that I should give my life here, then so be it… I don’t want to desert these people, and that is what will be said, even after all these years. There is still a lot of good that can be done under the circumstances…

Pray for us that we may continue to serve as best we can in the reality where we find ourselves.

[from a letter to the bishops of Tulsa and Oklahoma City,
dated 10 months before his murder]

“The shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger.
Pray for us that we may be a sign of the love of Christ for
our people, that our presence among them will fortify them to
endure these sufferings in preparation for the coming of the Kingdom.”

[and from a letter written that final Christmas]

[photos © María Ruiz Scaperlanda, 
taken in Amman, Jordan; 
Photos of Fr Stanley Rother, 
courtesy of Archdiocese of Oklahoma City]