Wednesday, December 04, 2019

“Building on Rock, Day by Day” by Beth DeCristofaro

“Building on Rock, Day by Day” by Beth DeCristofaro

"A strong city have we; he sets up walls and ramparts to protect us.  Open up the gates to let in a nation that is just, one that keeps the faith. A nation of firm purpose you keep in peace; in peace, for its trust in you." (Isaiah 26:1-3)

Open to me the gates of justice;
I will enter them and give thanks to the LORD.
This gate is the LORD's;
the just shall enter it.
I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me
and have been my savior.
R. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
(Psalm 118:1 and 25-27A)

And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined."
(Matthew 7:26-27)

O God, Protect me in times of storm but also in times of tedium.  May I be open to the Word-Made-Flesh, Jesus Christ, in all seasons of my life.

Most of us know the experience of being buffeted by wind and rain.  Life finds us reeling from deaths of loved ones, anxiety over job stresses or potential loss, anxiety at personal or national conflicts, disillusionment in men we trusted and the like.  And most of us know that Jesus will see us through these times whether we feel his presence at our side during the storm or recognize his grace after it has passed.

Much of life, thankfully, is not so pummeling.  For long stretches, we might find ourselves going capably from responsibility to responsibility, enjoying moments of merriment.  Are we checking in on our “building” in these settled times?  Standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon, after we have caught our breath in awe and perhaps backed away a few steps in dizziness, we can contemplate what the day to day slog of a small river has done to the mighty earth.  Erosion of soil, rock or soul can change the face of the world and us.  The corrosion of boredom (acedia) can gradually eat away at our foundation of faith.
Joan Chittister writes, “Day follows day with not much to show for any of them. Oh, yes, monastics know all about that kind of thing. In ancient monasteries, the warning of Evagrius of Pontus to ‘beware the devil of the noonday sun’ loomed large. Acedia, they called it. Spiritual sloth. The burden of the long haul. The question in every life, of course, is how to keep on going when going on seems fruitless. … The Abbas know that life is what comes from within us, not from what clings to the cloaks of our heart, demanding our attention and draining our resources.  Into this climate of spiritual ennui, of dulling sensitivities, boredom takes over. And it is boredom that smothers the soul. Bored, we lose sight of the beautiful in our midst. Bored, we overlook the world’s call for our attention. Bored, we ourselves become lethargic, out of touch, and uncaring about the needs of others. …  So, what is the cure for such shrinkage of the soul? Abba Poeman is clear. We must forever remember, each and every day of our life, to make a new beginning. It is this beginner’s mind—the stage of perpetual alertness—that keeps us in tune with the songs of the rest of the world. …   Every day, like Abba Poeman, we must begin to see again our role in the creation of the world, in the development of the human race, and the preservation of the planet.[i]

Advent focuses both on the now and the future; in the momentous past at Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection they are tied together. We can begin each morning again to a new beginning.  We anticipate the birth of a divine baby.  We can set new stones in our own foundation which Jesus’ death set in place. We can add our own touches to the growing Kingdom which Jesus established in his Resurrection.  Are there places of ennui, complacency, or dulled coolness in our souls?  Raise these to God’s protection and enlivening in Advent practices. Prepare to come to the creche of the baby with hearts afire.

[i] “A New Beginning”, Sr. Joan Chittister, July 10, 2017, 

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