Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Truth in All This

I approached one of those present and asked him the truth of all this; in answer, he made known to me its meaningBut the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingship, to possess it forever and ever.”  Daniel 7:16, 18

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise...Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength
to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Luke 21:34, 36

Should Old Acquaintance be forgot,
and never thought upon;
The flames of Love extinguished,
and fully past and gone:
Is thy sweet Heart now grown so cold,
that loving Breast of thine;
That thou canst never once reflect
On old long syne. (Robert Burns and/or or an old traditional song)

On this last day of the year, the Good News from Luke is a fairly dire warning probably more appropriate for the readings on December 31.  File it away and read it then, too. And keep the phone number of your designated driver handy. 

Yet what does all this mean?  What is the truth in all that we do?  As Catholics? As Christians? As Americans?  As Cursillistas?  As Knights of Columbus?  As Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts?  As the Rosary Altar Society?  As the Salvation Army Red Kettle Ringers? 

We are finishing a 365 day cycle and will enter into a new one tomorrow on the first Sunday of Advent.  We may not know the meaning (truth) but we persist in faith with our practices of piety, study and action.  Hopeful that the season will result in the vision of Daniel.   

No matter the evil that bears down on Sandy Hook Elementary School, a movie theatre in Colorado, a concert hall in Paris, an open air market in Beirut or a hotel in Mali, we have hope that “the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingship, to possess it forever and ever.”  We have faith that the beasts who are fighting for power and control right now will lose out in the long run.

Our hope does not mean we can escape any of the pain of life today.  But...we have a choice. We can give in to the pain of inescapable suffering or we can surrender to the joy of hope. 

Maybe what this all means, cycle after cycle, is that we are to revel in the joy of hope.  Rather than drown ourselves in the pain of the past (for the sake of old times), we can instead focus on the life that emerges.

Amanda Petrusich is the author of “Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records.”  As a music subject matter expert, she just wrote an essay for the New Yorker magazine on the life and art of jazz pianist and songwriter Alan Toussaint who died last month. Born in 1938, he lived through a world war, segregation, civil rights riots, Hurricane Katrina and more. She writes:

There is a pervasive, odious myth about art-making—and I’ve certainly been complicit in its dissemination—that has to do with anguish as fuel for a particular kind of emoting. The idea is that the real work comes from suffering: when we are denied whatever it is that we want or require, we take that hurt and turn it into something else. It becomes grist for a mill. This is a religious idea as much as a cultural one—self-flagellation as a road to transcendence.

It’s easy—nearly satisfying—to think of pain as transformative. But Toussaint’s work suggests a different way. Joy can change us, too—that’s evident in his songs. See something miraculous, and watch yourself reappear on the other side, different, better. There is so much gratitude in this music: a true gladness. What a thing to hold in mind. What a thing to let yourself follow, all the way down to the grave.[i]

Maybe like Daniel, it is about the joy of discovering that hope wins, faith wins, no matter what.  

“Joy, and discovery, dude.”  How will joy change you in the closing and opening of a new liturgical year? 


No comments: