Sunday, December 7, 2008

Advent Retreat 2008

Beginning Day, which was only two weeks ago, startled me a bit. I had thought of this previous year as a time when the School of Community I attend was a bit stuck, not yet being publically announced, and not being missionary enough. But at the Beginning Day, I saw that despite my feeling stuck, things in this area have been moving — like the blooming of a flower shown in fast forward.

On Saturday, I attended the Advent retreat, which was up at the Abbey Crypt Church at St. Benedict's Monastery in Atchison, Kansas. Fr. Meinrad led us. I saw Daniele, Salvatore, and others. As usual, Salvatore said a couple of words that really cut through to the core of what I need to do. I saw Francis again and met Michael, two students at Benedictine College. Listening and taking notes have become something ordinary, a continuation or a heightening of the work done during the week or at School of Community. I appreciated the way that Fr. Meinrad brought in lines from the liturgy of this time but also what he has been reading, Mother Teresa's Secret Fire.

I pondered a bit the Messianic secret of St. Mark's Gospel: Jesus tells those cured to say nothing, but they can't help but announce what God has done for them. And, I thought a bit about St. Joseph, who is depicted in a chapel below the Abbey Church. Joseph is holding a mallet in one hand and a nail in the other but he has no tension toward that act. Instead, he watches with care as Jesus the toddler imitates the act with an earnestness. How did Joseph witness to Jesus? He too guarded the Messianic secret, and yet how could it have been kept from anyone that Joseph came into contact with? Jesus is here with us as He was with St. Joseph. Witness begins with a changed humanity and culminates in the explicit announcement, but only after the straining of every sinew has witnessed first.

We do things to tell others that we have done them (observes Pascal), but what is primary is that we take the journey of knowledge first. In Mark's Gospel, the parable of the sower comes a little bit after the pharisees chastise the disciples for picking grain on the Sabbath. Did Jesus see grain fall on the ground at this point and wonder at the destiny of every seed? that one will feed the birds and that one will sprout and die, but that other one will fulfill itself and produce more grain. But this is also how the birds are fed, and man also in more ways than one. So, Jesus would seem to say, the main thing is not first of all telling what happened, repeating to others the impression one had in a moment. Instead, look at what happens, ask what is the ultimate source, meaning, and teleology of it — abide in what happens first of all, for yourself, as an awareness of who cares for you in this way — and then, when you can't hold it in any longer, you may share it with others.

1 comment:

clairity said...

Beautiful ... this waiting, gestation, is so human.