Friday, December 9, 2011

Late to Rise

Your correspondent kept his oil lamp lit long into the night!

The postulants were given a break today from the regular morning schedule of prayer and instruction because of the festivities at our friary last evening for the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Five of the potential candidates for postulancy visited the house last night for a celebration of Eucharist and a presentation on the joyful mystery of the Annunciation. The Gospel reading for the solemnity comes from Luke, in which the angel Gabriel comes to Mary to reveal that she would give birth to Jesus, the Savior. And Mary says Yes. Fr. Jack Rathschmidt, who is currently leading preaching missions, presided at the Eucharist, gave the homily, and in the presentation walked us through the spiritual exercise of lectio divina, a contemplative reading of the Annunciation story. With the holy reading of Luke, we also practiced a holy seeing, gazing contemplatively at a depiction of the Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner, a 19th century African-American painter in the realist tradition. Following chapel we socialized over pizza.

But that was only half of the evening. As your correspondent was updating the public diary, he was keeping watch with Christ and all the guardian angels attending his many friends in the Occupy Boston movement, who were awaiting eviction at midnight by the city police from their encampment. With the judge lifting the restraining order that prevented authorities from removing the occupiers, their tents, and all their belongings, the city had a free hand to show its power. (Apparently, occupation is not a protected act under either First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech or peaceful assembly.) But shortly after 1 a.m., it was announced that the city would not forcefully remove any persons or property. By that point, many had resolved to leave the encampment of their own accord, but nevertheless hundreds of people remained to disobey faithfully or to witness those who would be arrested. So the Boston occupation remains; it is now the longest lasting encampment in the United States.

The occupation movement has succeeded at calling attention to the social and economic inequalities that afflict the many. Where religious authorities and people filled with the Holy Spirit have participated, they have pointed out how the economic crisis is a spiritual crisis and a consequence of both personal and social sin -- the abandonment to greed and power by leaders who have forgotten the common good; who have justified concupiscence and inscribed wanton consumption into the regular patterns and practices of the global political economy; and who have even cheated this consumptive system to further aggrandize themselves and their cronies. To all this the occupiers have cried out with a loud voice: Repent! Turn back to God with all your heart! You, too, are a part of the sheepfold. You are not a wolf. Do no more harm to the flock! In the voice of Christians who join the occupation movement, the call from the 99 percent to the 1 percent becomes a call to conversion. It is a call to stop wounding the body of Christ and instead become the wounded body of Christ. I would have wanted so much to be there with the people, who, as I have written before, have the heart of the Good Shepherd who goes lovingly and with determination after the one sheep out of the hundred who has gone astray.

What is your opinion?
If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray,
will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills
and go in search of the stray?
And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it

than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.
In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father
that one of these little ones be lost.

Matthew 18:12-14

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