1

Awakening

CL11 -hbratton notxt

©Heidi Bratton Photography

God is love, therefore we exist.  The Divine Goodness is the pulsing root of all things.  We are created for communion with Him, conjured from nothingness to behold the Beautiful One.

Creation is a great romance: “For You love all the things that exist” (Wisdom 11:24).  The God of Jacob is not merely the Craftsman, but the Cherisher of Souls.  To exist is to enjoy intimacy with Him: “Your immortal Spirit is in all things” (Wisdom 12:1).

Though we abuse our freedom and stray afar, the Shepherd tirelessly seeks us out, bringing us back into His gracious company:

“As far as the east is from the west,
So He removes our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him” (Psalm 102:12, 13)

The mind that is closed to God is futile (Romans 1:21), profoundly severed from reality; from God, the Real One.  There is more than sentiment to Saint Paul’s stunning saying: “For me, to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21).  This is why Jesus calls “dead” those who separate themselves from Him, the Way and the Truth and the Life (cf. Luke 9:60; John 14:6).

Existence is confused apart from God. At best, it is weary farce; at worse, bitter tragedy.

“For they said among themselves,
as they reasoned incorrectly;
‘Our life is short and painful,
And there is no cure for the death of man;
For no one has been known to return from Hades;
Because we were born by chance,
And after this we shall be as though we never existed.

For the breath in our nostrils is smoke,
And our speech is the spark kindled
By the beating of our heart.
When the spark is extinguished
Our body will turn to ashes,
And our breath will disperse like empty air.
Then our name will be forgotten in due time,
And no one will remember our works;
So our life will pass away like the trace of a cloud
And be scattered like fog,
Driven away by the rays of the sun
And oppressed by its heat” — (Wisdom 2:1-4)

“But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God” (Wisdom 3:1).  Those who love God are given insight, “knowledge of the things that exist . . . the true structure of the world” (Wisdom 7:17).  This sacred knowledge is the revelation of God. He who receives it is free from illusion and delusion: “I awakened, and I am still with You” (Psalm 138:18). 

Grace is offered universally.  Those who accept it partake in the Divine Nature as sons and daughters of light.  This participation is an elusive experience.  From the saints we know it takes many forms, but the common theme is similitude to Jesus Christ, the image of the invisible God.  The imitation of Christ yields the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22, 23). 

These righteous souls drink from the Lord’s cup of unmixed wine (cf. Psalm 74:9). They cry praises with David:

“For what is there in heaven for me but You?
And what do I desire on earth besides You?
My heart and my flesh fail.
O God of my heart; God is my portion forever” (Psalm 72:25, 26). 

And with gladness they sing:

 “The day is Yours, and the night is Yours;
You created the light and the sun.
You made all the boundaries of the earth;
Summer and winter, You formed these things?” (Psalm 73:16, 17).

Those who fear God are delighted by His infinite bounty.  In the manifold wonder of reality, they perceive the genius of their Master, the One Who Is. “For from the greatness and beauty of created things, the Creator is seen by analogy” (Wisdom 13:5).  

How then do we explain the dour faces at church, the yawns and grumbles?  Foundational to the Gospel is the good news that the Absolute Being has revealed Himself to man, an animal wrought from dust!  How often we forget the magnitude of our creed!  Saint Paul’s words are ever relevant: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God” (Hebrews 10:31). 

This apathy is doubly sad, because the joy of the Incarnation is hollow unless we recognize the otherness of the Creator and appreciate the preciousness of His work.  You cannot love the person of Christ until you tremble before the essence of God. 

It is strange how easily we ignore the presence of the Eternal.  In the bustle of daily life, God has a way of getting lost. Distracted by the humdrum, this sort of talk can come off over-enthusiastic, like the wild effusions of an oriental guru. In fact, it is strictly Scriptural.  What is the Gospel if not a testament to the radical power of Christ?  To encounter the Risen One, and through Him know the Triune Godhead, is to be transformed.

We must not sit around expecting “mystical” experiences.  Rather, we must see that existence itself is a mystical experience.  We must strive to see what is right in front of us.  Saint Therese of Liseux taught us that ecstasy is in the ordinary.  Her “little way” is the art of recognizing grace everywhere; the discipline of casual submission to Providence.

However shrouded, God pervades all existence, infusing it with love and life.  We encounter His presence in Scripture, which is breathed by the Spirit; in liturgical celebration, the Lamb’s Supper; in the sacraments, those windows of grace; in silent adoration, when “deep calls to deep” (Psalm 42:7).  The Living God embraces all things, fills all things, holds together all things.  This is the faith of the Body of Christ, the Church.

“Undefiled, manifest, invulnerable,
Loving what is good, keen,
Unhindered, beneficent, man-loving,
Steadfast, unfailing,Free from worry, all-powerful, all-surveying,
And penetrating all spirits that are rational;

Pure, and most subtle,
Wisdom moves from one place to another,
More easily than motion itself,
And because of her purity,
She penetrates all things.

So she is the exhalation of the power of God
And the emanation of the pure glory of the Almighty” (Wisdom 7:22-25)


Philip Primeau is an associate editor at Catholic Lane. He also blogs at a-heart-of-flesh.blogspot.com. He may be contacted by email at philipryan.primeau@gmail.com.
Filed under: » »
  • The Wisdom Literature contains some of the most beautiful words ever written in human language. Here is my favorite passage:

    “The LORD created me, first-fruits of his fashioning,
    before the oldest of his works.
    From everlasting, I was firmly set,
    from the beginning, before the earth came into being.
    The deep was not, when I was born,
    nor were the springs with their abounding waters.
    Before the mountains were settled,
    before the hills, I came to birth;
    before he had made the earth, the countryside,
    and the first elements of the world.
    When he fixed the heavens firm, I was there,
    when he drew a circle on the surface of the deep,
    when he thickened the clouds above,
    when the sources of the deep began to swell,
    when he assigned the sea its boundaries
    –and the waters will not encroach on the shore–
    when he traced the foundations of the earth,
    I was beside the master craftsman,
    delighting him day after day,
    ever at play in his presence,
    at play everywhere on his earth,
    delighting to be with the children of men.”
    (Proverbs 8:22-31, NJB)

    Wisdom is personified and presented as the source of his Father’s delight, and shown playing on the earth as it is being created. The essence of wisdom is play and delight.

    It is a revelation of something of the very heart of God’s nature. What human mind could ever have conceived of wisdom as play? To me, these words are proof of the inspiration of Scripture. They could only have come from the Holy Spirit.