LENT is a season of Christ’s teachings which are presented self-righteously, mournfully, nasally, coldly, feebly, flamboyantly, blandly in a thousand pulpits across the nation.
If I were asked the rationale of my faith, I’d say: First, I believe in a grand universal order and meaning, and in a power that is both greater than us and within us.
I believe in a God I could worship formally wherever I am—in a God who answers prayers, guides and shapes, comforts and chides.
When you really come down to it, God is a benevolent and all-seeing Being.
More than that, I believe in a God invoked by public character—an ally in righteousness.
I believe in many great things—things that a formal worshipper of God would profess to believe. These are not abstractions for me, but the highest purpose for which we all exist—to believe with passion in justice, kindness, decency, humility, courage and honor.
I see it revealed equally in a raindrop, in a gentle, caressing breeze, in the shape of a leaf, in the palpitating body of a tiny bird or in the swell of a cumulus cloud.
What of the chorale’s Johannes Sebastian Bach? What can my ministers give me that I cannot find in a Shakespeare sonnet? Or in the lines of great philosophers like Plato, Descartes and the metaphysical poet, John Donne? What can church rituals give that a great dance or ballet cannot?
In all these creative acts that lift, mystify, and enlarge man from timeless artists…those who make beauty those who unlock mysteries, serve truth, never make war because they supplement compassion and make pettiness go away..like viewing Vincent Van Gogh or the masters of the Renaissance.
Can anyone imagine how it would be like to interact with the Lord, who knows your every thought and word, even before you speak?
How do I attempt to clear away the cobwebs of formalism and tradition, to take a fresh look at who Christ is, and what he is saying to me, through my amateur theologizing?
I will come very prepared, read religiously (and not browse)on the dogmas and every theological attribute I could muster. But I would still be so intimidated!
If I could interview Him, I will ask many questions.
“Lord given the fact that you have bestowed life, why did you give us death? Since we are born, why should we die?
I will ask Him about everything—from the Virgin Birth, to being betrayed by his friend, Judas Iscariot (whom Dante Alighieri, in his Divina Comedia Inferno Canto Uno, put at the deepest layer of hell, for that offense of treachery and betrayal.)
I would ask about free will, Good Friday, Easter Day, and The Risen.
“My Lord, why did you give Adam and Eve free will, but banished them for their sin of disobedience? They were pre-destined to do what they did, and while we are on the topic, wasn’t disobedience born on the day Eve took a bite of the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil?”
On Good Friday: Lord why is this day called “good,” when it is when man denied God?
If Christ (who was both “Man” and “God”) had to experience man’s refusal of the spirit, why is man unperturbed by what He did and does?
“Lord Jesus as a Man, you knew God.”
“I am ‘Man’ and “God” and so it is with you.
I struggle to understand that. We do not really know what we mean by “God or “man,” and the drain of its contradiction and resolution is everything.
The Blessed Virgin: The Great Mediatrix
One of the pleasures of age is reading books long-forgotten, like Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and The Prairie Queen, which alludes to the Blessed Virgin Mother.
I’ve read the great flowering of trust in the Virgin, of glorious building in her honor, of the consummate artistry and rich harmony that flourish on every hand.
From childhood, I was so moved by the abundance of beauty that I was healed of a wound that ached in me—the inferiority of women.
“Lord, why do men feel such a need with showing it. We are galled, distorted, mortified and forever puzzled by it. They have gifts and style we lack, achievements are theirs, why do they need to give us flick of pain at our being, we, who are their mates and mothers?”
But the Blessed Virgin was loved for her mercy, beauty and gift of inspiring creation in others—love above all for her generosity and power. She both gave and forgave.
E-mail Mylah at email@example.com