March 30, 2004

Lighten Up & Gird Your Loins

My father is much more risk-averse when it comes to investing than me. So I tease him when he tells me about the latest utility stock he bought by saying, "Pina colada, 'eh?". Pina coladas not only provide ease and relaxation, unlike anxiety-inducing high-beta stocks, but they also provide a lower return. A pina colada doesn't supply the jolt that good Irish whiskey does.

The best proof that the pina colada approach to the spiritual life is not the correct approach is to look at a crucifix. Jesus on the cross emphasizes just how serious God takes our situation and our waywardness. It was silly, but I noticed the bent knees of Jesus on the crucifix in my room. A small detail, and certainly nothing to compare with the actual pain he felt elsewhere. But the bent knees looked so confining; he couldn't even stretch out his legs. Trivial, sure, but this is the God of the universe. He who created infinite space willingly accepted the constriction of space, to the point of being pinned on a cross. It's a harrowing thought and a bracing blow against tepidity. Especially with just ten days till Good Friday left.

Recently I read two somewhat contradictory things, which both struck me as potentially truthful. One is from a commenter, Frank Gibbon, on Amy's blog:
Perhaps Bud McFarlane has overdosed on religion. Orthodox Catholics have to lighten up a bit and put the religious stuff aside once in awhile. We all need to relax and realize that orthodoxy is only worthwhile when it proceeds from knowing the love of Christ.
    Then I read Rev. P.J. Michel's book responding to those who feel a dryness in prayer:
You are all day occupied in natural gratifications and frivolous amusements, intent on seeing and hearing all that is said and done, losing no opportunity for useless conversations, listening to any evil report against your neighbor; always distracted, occupied with the actions and interests of others without a thought for yourself, your eternal interests, and your salvation; prolonging this dissipation of mind and heart to the very beginning of your prayers, to which you hurry at the last moment, and without stopping to reflect for an instant on what you are going to do; and you imagine that all this distraction and dissipation will suddenly disappeear, and that recollection and devotion will as suddenly replace them, clam the tumult of your passions, reawaken at once in your heart sentiments of faith, piety, and love. In good sooth now, do you really expect such a miracle? You have scarcely once thought of God during the day, you have not had toward Him those sentiments which are his due...

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