Sunday, December 16, 2012

Speak Joy, God

Lectio Divina

The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst,
you have no further misfortune to fear.

Zephaniah 3:15


Found the poetry I've been looking for, from Charles Peguy (1873-1914), a modern with the religious sensibility of a medieval peasant. The collection is titled God Speaks (New York: Pantheon Books, 1945). These are written from God's point of view, but more than that, God the Father is the speaker. Now that is audacity I admire, as I have dared, too, on occasion to make God my narrator, though I fudge it by blurring identities. Now it could be God, in love with God's creature, and then again it could be a human lover. Peguy doesn't hedge.


Mass this morning at Saint Raphael Parish in Santa Barbara, where the pastor, like most every minister in the nation, delivered good news in response to the news in Newtown. Not an easy thing to do, to speak words of wisdom, much less joy, in the immediate aftermath of unspeakable violence. To me, an air of lethargy hung over the congregation. When you are traumatized, it is hard to shake off the lull.

After worship, journeyed to Old Mission Santa Ines for a Christmas luncheon hosted by the friars and prepared by the parishioners. The novice brothers of the schola were hastily assembled after the meal to sing their appreciation, and an open-mic session followed spontaneously. I did come forward and sang this poem I wrote during Advent three years ago. Sister Lucia, a Sister of the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart, said my voice had "cultivation." Thank you, sister, for the most gratifying compliment I have received this year.

Later this afternoon, back at San Lorenzo, prayer came over me and I could do no other than enter into it. Holy hour extended my meditation toward contemplation. I prayed with my breviary. I prayed with a poem by Charles Peguy about the Holy Innocents. I prayed with the Los Angeles Times. Silently I gazed at the faces and read the names of Newtown's holy innocents and their fallen shepherds. I prayed, I sang with special fervor.

And God the Son prayed with us. Yes, this God, who became vulnerable and lowly as a child, and who becomes so vulnerable still (and simple and humble) in bread and wine, prayed with us. Perhaps in meditating in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament we do not merely regard God in Jesus Christ, but that we become, personally and corporately, self-conscious of the sacrament we are. We are the body of Christ. We, the Church, are this body. We are becoming the body of the Lord, today newborn, and tomorrow risen into new life.

Been feeling serious, as I usually do at times like this, but also feeling strong, getting stronger. We ought to be looking for the joy that had suddenly gone absent from hearts across the nation on Friday. We must demand it. We must see it set free again.


Wet but warmer. Yes, warm! No, drowsiness!

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