Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lost and Found

Every so often, circumstances in life converge to create a state where it starts to feel as though we're being more dragged along for the ride than everything being under control.  Commitments, expectations at work, and all the other details of life begin to crowd in to the point where other, ultimately more important and necessary things--like our relationship and communication with God--start to get inched to the wayside.  When Christ and our relationship with him start to slip from the center toward the periphery, it is inevitable that we will substitute ourselves, and all the baggage we carry with us.  That is when things start to go awry.

I didn't realize it until this past week, but that is exactly what has been happening to me these last few weeks and months.   The details began to creep in--slowly, one by one, almost impercebtibly--to the point that my relationship with God, and with my wife, and general order in life, began to suffer.  It happens once in a while, and I usually rely on her to let me know (as she so gracefully does) that my "stress index" has increased to the point that I need to step back, take a spiritual and mental breather, and recage priorities.

Ultimately, I needed to do what all of us so often need to, to let go of my grasp on life.  I needed to feel God's presence again, not just in a superficial, sentimental way, but with that deep, peaceful command that comes when we let the one whose voice calmed the raging sea take control: "Take courage.  It is I."  I needed to recover daily time with him that I had started to let other things cut into.  I needed to be still and know that he is God.

The best place to recover this peace was--you guessed it--Confession and Eucharistic Adoration.  So we went and, true to form, Christ was right where he promised to be and always is, with us here and now, and forever.  Even more, as they usually do during Adoration, his words (today's reading from Luke 15) cut right to the quick of what I was experiencing.  Jesus' use of the the three parables of loss--the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son--opened my eyes to the fact that I had, in fact, been losing touch with him.  As he spoke to me through his words to the Pharisees and Scribes, the truth of the experience became crystal clear:

Our loss, or being lost, is just as often a "slow fade" from remaining centered on Him as it is a catastrophic fall into serious sin.

Whether or not we like it, Satan knows us.  He knows that if Plan A, to convince us that God doesn't exist, and Plan B, to swindle us into destruction through serious sin, both fail, he can always resort to Plan C, to lure us slowly away from Christ and pull our gaze off of Him using the details and anxieties of everyday life, however innocent and well-meaning they may be.  He does it impercebtibly, hoping that we will not notice until Christ has been edged out of our life entirely and all that's left of our relationship with him is an empty, nostalgic memory.  Either way, we fall precisely into the original sin that he lured Adam and Eve into in the garden, to start to seize control of our lives instead of allowing God to remain in the driver's seat and clinging with love and adoration to his plan for our life and salvation. Even though none of the details that pulled us away from him may be evil in itself, they can lead us directly into violation of the First Commandment: "I am the Lord your God.  You shall have no other Gods besides me." That includes work, school, and anything else that we allow to take the place that is rightfully his.

But, thankfully, God allows us to feel the "righteous anxiety" that comes when we lose our focus on him and on submitting ourselves in obedience to his will.  He gives us the grace to sense the chaos that slowly but surely ensues, in hopes that we will repent.  Even more than that, like the Father of the lost son, he stands always there with open arms, present in the Sacrament of the Altar, waiting for us to return to his arms and into joy, love, and peace that passes all understanding.

Lord, do not let us be lost by having our eyes drawn away from you.  Help us to keep our gaze always fixed on your cross, that we may live all aspects of our life with an awareness of its power and of the eternal life that you have destined us for through your death and Resurrection.

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