Posted by: Peadar Ban | August 20, 2012

A Little Day and Quiet Thinking

The readings at Mass today were sobering, I’d say.  “Son of man, by a sudden blow I am taking away from you the delight of your eyes..”  That’s how Ezekiel finds out that his wife is going to die.  And yet, he can’t mourn.  Nope, he must carry on as if nothing much happened at all.  I thought, as this was being read, how do you do that?  “Oh, well.  Easy come.  Easy go?”  It’s not the way it is.  I know, because I’ve been there and done that.  But, no one told me I can’t even act as if it meant something.  What kind of a guy does that?

And, then there’s the Gospel about that Sad Young Man.  I know, we are supposed to refer to him as the Rich Young Man; the fellow who couldn’t follow Jesus because, you see, he had all of this stuff, and Jesus travels light.  Why not call a spade a spade, though.

Earlier today , as we sat around the table after breakfast our good friend who was visiting us told us a story.  She had baked something special for some friends.  Let us say it was a cake.  She would ordinarily trim the layers, and enjoy a small piece of her work before carrying it off to her friends.  But, this time she did not.  She wanted to get it to them as soon as she could.

So, off she went, and dropped one part of it at one person’s house.  She arrived at her other friend’s place and knocked on the door with the last piece of her cake.   (Full disclosure here, I have tasted this cake and it is delicious.)  Her friend opened the door and invited her in.  “Come in and have some cake with me,” she said.  Our friend was delighted.  Now she could have a piece of her own delicious bread.  Her friend ushered her into the kitchen, put on the coffee and set the cake on the table.

Before anything could happen the children began to call Mom for this and that, and her newborn — the reason for the gift of the cake — needed attention.  Our friend said that as each of these distractions began to put off the sharing of the cake, she began to yearn more and more for what she seemed she would not get, a taste of her own cake, and could not desire to give up.

Until finally, after much worry that she would not get some cake, and prayer that if she wasn’t to have any, she’d at least be allowed the loss of her desire for it, she blurted out as her friend rushed in and back out of the kitchen on another rescue mission, “May I please have a piece of your cake.”

We laughed as she told the story, and laughed again as we realized how weak all of us around that table were when it came to so many things.

I thought about that today at Mass when I heard Father ask us at the end of his short homily on the Sad Young Man, “What do you love?”

Cake?

Here is something I lifted from The Christian Book Corner:

High clouds are slipping by from the Southwest.  Look straight up and you might think you’re looking at the belly of some big fish, the clouds are that kind of silvery white.  The sun’s still low enough in the sky to send a few stabs of light across the neighbors’ lawns on the other side of the street turning the grass green-gold and making sharp cut-out of the shadows of the trees.  The birds have finished breakfast at the feeders in the front and back.  It will be a while before they return for a nice mid-morning snack.

It’s a cool morning.  And, that’s a great blessing.  We have had the most unusual Summer so far, a cold and rainy June, a June more like April.  Following on that came two months of heat and dryness leaving the ground parched and brown, the rivers low and the fish all fried, along with us.

We were the lucky ones, though.  They still suffer in the Mid-West and out in California.

Today is the feast day of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, a Doctor (Teacher) of the Church.  He was a contemporary of another famous Frenchman, the Abbot Suger of St. Denis whom he called a “precious vase adorning the palace of the King of Kings.”  That was when France was known as the “Eldest Daughter of the Church.”  Alas.

St. Bernard is well known for his devotion to Mary, the Blessed Mother, and for his many writings which helped his own and later generations understand her place in what some call the “economy of salvation.”

We have lost much of that simple and sure understanding which ran strongly through the life of an earlier age; all the better for it, too, think many and not without good reason.

Today’s Gospel reading about the Rich Young Man who walked away saddened because he had many “attachments” is a stark contrast to Mary’s surrender to the will of God.  She gave up everything and received the gift of bringing our salvation into the world.  He could not part with his “stuff”.

Oh, Lord, how familiar is that?

Perhaps St. Bernard was thinking of someone like the Rch Young Man, someone like all of us, when he said, “Hell is full of good wishes or desires.”    [Fr., L’enfer est plein de bonnes volontes ou desirs.]

Here are two short pieces about Mary that would have been right of St. Bernard’s time.  How out of place they may seem today, yet they were composed only a few short years ago:

Read the words of the two short songs and wonder about a little peasant girl who has nothing being the mother of God, and a Rich Young Man going away sad.

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