The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

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Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

An Extraordinary Life

Life is extraordinary.

According to Merriam Webster's on-line dictionary, for something to be extraordinary it most go beyond what is usual, regular, and customary. As the Church celebrates All Saints Day and All Souls Day this weekend, the believer once again gets reminded that his current state of living passes away. In the grand scheme of eternity, this mortal manner of being measures as a flash of light when juxtaposed to the rest of one's existence.

Normalcy must find its residence in communion with the Trinity. Only there does one find his true purpose. To see that reality proves difficult. When Adam and Eve made that fateful decision to step outside of Paradise they stepped into an extraordinary world; the one where death, pain, suffering, and the like intermingled with beatitude. How does one make sense of that kind of world? And yet much of life revolves around doing just that. It stands as the great deception that pulls one away from looking towards Heaven.

God's first people, the Jews, made the best of this world by living as closely as they could to the law which God gave to them. Today, the Halakhah, which translates to "the path that one walks," contains 613 mitzvot or commandments. There are 248 positive mitzvot, one for each bone and organ of the male body, and there are 365 negative mitzvot, one for each day of the solar year. All of these are found in the Torah, which comprises the first five books of the bible, today.

It's not that God's law was imperfect. People are. No matter how many laws God gave, man would find ways to break it. Christ even affirmed that it really only came down to two laws:

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, "What is written in the law? How do you read?" And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." And he said to him, "You have answered right; do this, and you will live."
Luke (RSV) 10:25-28

Even this was not good enough for the lawyer who insisted on getting some clarification as to just who the heck qualifies as his neighbor. Jesus instructs the lawyer with his parable of the Good Samaritan.

Once in awhile it seems humanity gets a glimpse of Heaven in the most extraordinary circumstances. recently published an essay by Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap, the Potifical Preacher, in which he included a letter that was found in the pocket of Aleksander Zacepa, a Russian soldier killed in battle during World War II.

Hear me, oh God! In my lifetime, I have not spoken with you even once, but today I have the desire to celebrate. Since I was little, they have always told me that you don't exist. And I, like an idiot, believed it. I have never contemplated your works, but tonight I have seen from the crater of a grenade the sky full of stars, and I have been fascinated by their splendor. In that instant I have understood how terrible is the deception. I don't know, oh God, if you will give me your hand, but I say to you that you understand me … Is it not strange that in the middle of a frightful hell, light has appeared to me, and I have discovered you? I have nothing more to tell you. I feel happy, because I have known you. At midnight, we have to attack, but I am not afraid. You see us. They have given the signal. I have to go. How good it was to be with you! I want to tell you, and you know, that the battle will be difficult: Perhaps this night, I will go to knock on your door. And if up to now, I have not been your friend, when I go, will you allow me to enter? But, what's happening to me? I cry? My God, look at what has happened to me. Only now, I have begun to see with clarity. My God, I go. It will be difficult to return. How strange, now, death does not make me afraid.

Life is extraordinary. In the most extreme of circumstances this young Russian soldier who until hours earlier had been an atheist suddenly, by God's grace, discovered that there exists no meaning to existence without God.

From conception each human being matters. Made in the image and likeness of God, each is given an eternal nature. The small stretch of time, perhaps seventy-five to one hundred years, that man ordinarily lives incarnate in this world, in its most primitive explanation, serves as a time to refine the gold for for man's ultimate purpose, which is no less than an eternal state of ultimate bliss within the triumphant mystical body of Christ.


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