Monday, April 27, 2015

Our Saul Experience: What we are searching for is right in front of us.

"Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord,went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that, if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains. On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” He said, “Who are you, sir?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, for they heard the voice but could see no one. Saul got up from the ground,but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing;so they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus.For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank." Acts Chapter 9

St. Paul tells us elsewhere that he was the chief of sinners because he persecuted the Church. However, he persecuted the Church because he was zealous for God; he truly believed that those who followed the "Way" were heretics, were sacrilegious. He--it appears to me--that he was desirous of truth, believing the Law was truth. Because of this desire to know truth, God brings us to the Truth, through Jesus Christ, His Son, the manifestation of Truth. When we are zealous for God, desirous of Truth, we do not focus on what we will receive; we, out of love, just want to please God. The only way that this can occur is if we become an image of Jesus. We cannot accomplish this; God must do this in us. He accomplishes this through Baptism, Confirmation, Reconciliation, and the Eucharist. He also does this through Marriage and Holy Orders. It is not for only the individual but for the entire Body.

Because Saul was desirous of truth but not living in Truth, he was struck down by the Truth, by a "light from heaven." We are all "struck down" because of our sins, for our sanctification. Saul was blind for three days. The first day is when he is struck down with blindness; the second, repentance; and the third, he receives his sight. Saul is not an island; he needs help from the Church. Therefore, the Head, Jesus, sends a part of the Body, Ananias, to him. This is for the benefit of Saul, Ananias, and the entire Body. We all have a Saul experience. We have it in a myriad of ways, but we still have a Saul experience: Christ manifests Himself to us in some; we repent; we are healed. We are struck blind to the things of the world and the world's wisdom. We enter a "world" of darkness, seeking light from God.

Often, we grope for this light in the wrong places--through our senses and our feelings. We are looking for a "spiritual high." Many leave the Fullness of Truth, the Catholic Church in search of this "high." This "high" will not last, and it often leads to pride and gnosticism, "super-Christians." All we have to do is "scratch the surface" of Catholicism, and we begin to experience the manifestation of Love of God, Love of Neighbor. Christ is bodily present in the Catholic Church, speaking to us, teaching us, forgiving us. It is so subtle and gentle that we overlook it--because we are searching for miraculous signs. We cannot see the trees for the forest. In the Catholic Church, we see God and Man working in union. To see this, all we have to do is read about the Liturgy, why we do what we do and say what we say. We can meditate on one thing in the Mass, and we very well could become overwhelmed.

"The Lord be with you." We have entered into the very presence of God. He is there body, blood, soul, and divinity. We are sinful, and He has not struck us dead. Instead of striking us dead, He invites us. "Who are You, sir?" we are asking subconsciously. "I am Jesus, Whom you persecutes by way of your sins, loving the world and death instead of Me and Life." "The Lord be with you." God approaches us, gently calling us. We are in the parish because Jesus has called us and compelled us by means of others to come. He is so anxious to sanctify us that He does not leave us to our own means; He utilizes others. "I am with you; I desire that you know Me. I will forgive you if you desire My forgiveness, desire to be an image of Me." Each of us can add to this if we only meditate, "scratch the surface." The relightious leaders crucified Jesus because He wasn't the type of messiah they visualized. People leave the Catholic Church for the same reason. The Messiah was manifested to the religious leaders, and Christ is manifested to us in the Catholic Church. They couldn't see Him; often, we do not see Him.

"Ananias" means "whom Jehovah has graciously given." Saul was given Ananias to gain his sight; we are given Ananias--the Catholic Church--to receive sight. The Catholic Church is "the street which is called Straight;" it is also the "house of Judas," the house of praise. What we are searching for is right in front of us, as plain as the nose on our face--we just can't see it for our nose, our nose being in the way.