A New Year’s Meditation From the Heart of a Carmelite Sister
Every year I find myself asking the same question, ruminating over the profound mystery of it all as again I ask myself, “Why?” The first time I asked this question I was a small child attending a Catholic School in Long Beach, California. Our first grade class had just listened to the story of the creation of the world found in the book of Genesis. I remember watching Sister Mary Alice standing before a large tripod pointing to a large picture book of scenes from Bible stories, and there were Adam and Eve right there on page one, wearing fig leave coverings and looking very unhappy. Only two people in our world and we learned right away that the two of them blew it and were ousted from the Garden of Eden.
On page two, we studied the pictures of Cain and Abel as we listened to the story of how Cain became jealous of and then murdered his brother Abel. What? Only four people in the world – Adam, his wife Eve, and their two sons – and with only those four people, one chooses to kill the other and his own brother at that, resulting in 25% of the human race gone – just like that – all in the very first chapter of human history. What’s going on here?
We recently celebrated the great solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord, Christmas Day, in all its beauty and glory, only to enter the church the following day, December 26th, listening to the reading about how Steven was stoned to death as a martyr for his faith just as Christianity was beginning. Two days later, we heard the story of the slaughter of the Holy Innocents, while gazing at the nativity scene still set up in the sanctuary.
This is unbelievable. This is crazy. Such a juxtaposition of two extremes – After completing the masterpiece of creation, God said it was very good – not just good…but very good – only to have immediate disobedience, jealousy, and murder. Steven’s testimony based on the gospel message of virtuous living through faith, hope, and love resulted his being stoned to death. The phenomenal birth of Jesus to a Virgin Mother in Bethlehem precipitated the slaughter of the Holy Innocents, where the lives of tiny children was violently snuffed out.
Didn’t Jesus Christ come to earth to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to prisoners? Murder . . . Stoning . . . Slaughter of innocents. What is happening here?
Today, in the Middle East, in the Holy Land itself, the land of Christ’s birth, death and resurrection, and ascension, unrest reigns even at this moment in time. Ditto for so many other parts of our world. Why?
If anyone knows the answer, please respond to this blog. Tell us how can we take our spinning earth in our hands and calm it down, bring it back to its senses, re-focus, and re-discover our roots. How can we reclaim the principles and values of gospel living?
Are we are to live our entire lives within this paradox?
If the answer is yes, perhaps that is this why Pope Benedict is calling upon all of us to embrace a “Year of Faith.” We need our faith re-understood, re-discovered, re-kindled.
During the Year of Faith, our web site will feature articles and other posts about Faith. We Carmelite Sisters would like to hear from you on this subject. That’s why we are blogging! So, I ask you now, today, “What is at the heart of this paradox? Are we to live our entire lives within it and if so, how?”