Monday, October 29, 2018

If it's just a symbol.... how faith is like a garden (and hope)

Madonna of the Goldfinch
by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, via wikicommons


Famously, Flannery O'Connor said about the holy eucharist, "If it's just a symbol, then to hell with it."

Taking that seed of contemplation,  I want to shed water and light on it.

Growth in God requires the water of the Eucharist.  We are truly fed by it.  The seed of faith is nourished by truth.

Discerning crossing the Tiber (that is, converting to Catholicism) is, or can be, frightening.  I haven't spoken (confidently) about it in some time, mostly because just like an O'Connor short story, when I rock the boat, predictably each time, various family members text me inflammatory commentary from some religious leader within their sphere of influence (or sphere of being influenced).  I have written on our conversion in the past and I think I have aimed at dispersing darkness... yet it kinda maketh me laugh.

But... I'm feeling led to speak about it today, because as an article I linked to recently mentioned, faith and holiness are something we hide and something we radiate.  So this got me thinking humility begs that we hide our good deeds, we share our beliefs.  I feel like we keep secret our deepest thoughts perhaps, but we share our hope.   If faith in God and Jesus is taken out of the context of the Eucharist that has power, and if it is something that is more than a symbol, then that changes literally everything.

The only thing I can say about this garden is that you cannot know the growth that is possible until you feed the seed of faith with action.  St. Therese of Liseux made famous the idea of the way of the little flower,  “The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of it’s scent nor the daisy of its simple charm.  If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.” (God's will*)

Just like a flower that blooms in the sun, the soil must be rich, healthy, and the water clean. The soil can't be rocky or full of clay.  The roots have to be able to go down to a very deep place.  (Of course scandal and immorality among our bishops does nothing for the condition of our soil as a Church.  Lord, help us. me and all of us.)  As an aside, if I could recommend all Catholics read one book in the coming year, it would be An American Marriage by Tayari Jones.  I talked about it in my instastories, but suffice it to say it is like an incredible meal of comfort food with all the fixings.

The word "rosary" comes from the symbol "a garland of roses." In the 12th century, it has been reported that St. Bernard spoke of the Blessed Virgin Mary as "The rose of charity, the lily of chastity, the violet of humility and the golden gillyflower of heaven", and in the 13th century, St. Francis of Assisi was reported to have taken care not to step on even the least flower, as it was a symbol of Mary.

If righteousness- the doing of what is right- is a choice each day, then a beautiful garden full of many flowers requires the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, which leads to a person's ultimate redemption when the rose blooms instead of the lies of Satan and the entanglements of sin.  Confession, absolution from sin, and the other sacraments such as baptism, marriage, penance, confirmation, holy orders, and anointing of the sick remain the sticking point.  Finally, reliance on the saints and the queen of heaven and queen of all the saints, Mary is the bloom itself.  :)

If you are still curious, I recommend Peter Kreeft's book Catholic Christianity.  As far as excellent apologists go, I can't think of  a better one!
*For more on St. Therese: see this

#write everyday 31days like t. pain



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