St. Kateri, Mother Earth, and Unity

His dew is a dew of light.  The land of shades gives birth. (see Isaiah 26:19)

Anyone remember when the pope canonized the Lily of the Mohawks, proclaiming her Saint Kateri?  I’ll give you a hint:  Pope Benedict XVI did it…  Not that long ago…  During the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization…  October 21, 2012.

The task of summarizing that synod wound up falling to Pope Francis.  Let’s listen to paragraph 276 of his exhortation to us, The Joy of the Gospel:

Christ’s resurrection is not an event of the past; it contains a vital power which has permeated this world. Where all seems to be dead, signs of the resurrection suddenly spring up. It is an irresistible force. Often it seems that God does not exist: all around us we see persistent injustice, evil, indifference and cruelty. But it is also true that in the midst of darkness something new always springs to life and sooner or later produces fruit. On razed land, life breaks through, stubbornly yet invincibly. However dark things are, goodness always re-emerges and spreads. Each day in our world beauty is born anew, it rises transformed through the storms of history…human beings have arisen time after time from situations that seemed doomed. Such is the power of the resurrection, and all who evangelize are instruments of that power.

This fallen world is a land of shades.  Sometimes a kind-of hot land of shades.  But a land where the shadow of death falls.  “Land of shades” means:  the place where the shadow of death falls.  And that is:  planet earth.

pope-francis_2541160kBut earth gives birth!  One of the themes of our Holy Father’s encyclical on the environment is:

The environmental crisis we face forces us to re-examine the meaning of life.  It forces us to recognize that we have received the earth as a gift from God, precisely as Jesus taught us and showed us. And the crisis makes us remember that we have one basic task:  to hand this gift on to the next generation safe and intact.

Of course this makes us think of the first nations of our continent.  They knew better than we do how to love Mother Earth.  At St. Kateri’s canonization, Pope Benedict prayed to her, asking her to re-invigorate the spread of the gospel among the native peoples of America, and among all the inhabitants of this land.

The witness of the saints’ lives shows us a profound, beautiful, and hopeful truth:  Different peoples can and do come together through true religion.  The religion of Jesus can bridge every racial, cultural, and generational divide.

This week every political leader and their brother have said pious things about the different groups and factions of our nation “coming together.”  May Jesus bring us together!  He is the One Who truly can do so.

Rock in Thin Air

Cam Newton Panthers

A strong city have we,” with “houses built on solid rock.”

What rock can there be but God? Something so simple and fundamental—and yet so easy to get distracted away from. Which is why we so desperately need our Lady in front of our spiritual eyes at all times.

transporter room star trekShe came of age, reached womanhood, and the choice appeared before her with crystal clarity: Everything for God; everything invested 100% in His holy Word; everything staked on His faithfulness to a beautiful plan we can’t see. Or: hopelessness, the slow tragic arc towards death, dissipation in a thousand compromises with shallowness and selfishness.

These are the real options. Everything for the invisible Rock of infinite love, running towards Judgment Day with nothing but eagerness to see Jesus. Or: comfort right now, followed by boredom tomorrow, confusion eventually, and ultimate desperation.

What rock can there be but God? What else is good? I would love to see my new bandwagon favorite Carolina Panthers march to Seattle in January, beat the evil Seahawks, and go the Super Bowl. I would love it. It could happen. But even if it does—is there any imaginable way in which Cam Newton can be the rock of my life? Is there any imaginable way in which the ephemera of this world can make me happy, really, for good?

No. God is the only rock. His testimony of love is the only foundation for any lasting city.

If we stand on this holy Rock of faith, like our Lady; if we stand with both feet squarely placed on the rock of the divine Word; if every pound of our weight, every ounce—everything; if all of me stands on the Rock of God, like our Lady stood, as if floating in the air—when the angel said, ‘the Holy Spirit will do this,’ and she said Yes; if we stand like her on the thin air of staking everything on the faithfulness of God, than you know what we can do?

Look each other in the eye. Look each other in the eye and see the great mystery: This person right here is my fellow citizen of Jerusalem. This person right here has just arrived—has just been beamed to this exact location by God Himself. No Amazon delivery drone required. God Himself has beamed us all together right here, right now, for a moment of love that will never die.

Our blessed Mother looked the Archangel in the eye, so to speak—since angels don’t ‘have’ eyes, but are eyes—she looked and saw the same reality that we can look and see, when we stand squarely on the thin air of God: The choice. Turn away, and crumble, little by little. Or say Yes to love, jump out, and fly like an eagle on the wind.