YES, JESUS!

In the last meditations of Father Anthony De Mello in The Way of Love, he begins one of his mediations:

“Think of a flabby person covered with layers of fat. That is what your mind can become—flabby, covered with layers of fat till it becomes too dull and lazy to think, to observe, to explore, to discover. It loses its alertness, its aliveness, its flexibility and goes to sleep. Look around you and you will see almost everyone with minds like that: dull, asleep, protected by layers of fat, not wanting to be disturbed or questioned into wakefulness.”

After copying this in my journal on November 29, I wrote the following:

Come, Beloved Jesus…
WAKE US UP!!! WAKE ME UP!!!

Then on Saturday morning on the memorial of St. Francis Xavier, as I was preparing to hear Confessions at St. John the Evangelist Church in Interlachen, I wrote the following:

Yes, Jesus
You have awoken my Spirit.
Yes, I will follow
and lead the way
through the darkness into your heart
although I am already within, but I didn’t know it!

O Jesus, all alone again
Bob, my brother priest helps me through the bog

You truly have come
to set a fire on the earth
and division.
You baptize me with your blood…so hot at first that I recoil

Patience, kindness, gentleness
Thanks for the fruit and sweetness
Generosity, purity, faithfulness
Thanks for the warm bread
Love, joy, peace,
Thanks for the strength and depth!

How long you must have waited for my soul to awaken
Groggy, whiney complaining

And yet, I feel and experience
how you purify me
spit on my eyes
hold me close to your breasts
like my Italian grandmother, Teresa,
pulled me in with her love and arms
It was so very uncomfortable
to breathe and think
with my face smashed into Grandma’s breasts
And yet, I now long for that uncomfortable love that conquers all

O Beloved God,
smash my face into your breasts
make me uncomfortable
call me to grow up and mature

I am here this morning
with You,
Just like three years ago
after Bishop John encouraged me
that sometimes I have to carry my cross
And then the man who ordained me
laid hands on me again
and forgave me.
As I drove down to Interlachen to hear confessions,
it hit me
the oils of Chrism flooded my eyes,
poured down on my beard (that has been long ago shaved off)
and into my heart and soul

Yes, You, O God, have ordained me
to be Your son
Your brother
and your lover
I am truly Father Ron
and I tremble at the prospect
just as every father does
as his tiny babe drawn from his loins and his beloved’s womb
is placed in his hands for the first time
Love pours like oil—a father forever
even if it costs him his life,
he will defend his wife and children
and then the world.
And now I beg forgiveness
and as I whimper my request
the words pour forth from your heart and soul
as you are tortured on the cross
“Ron, today you will be with me in Paradise!”

Today?!
Take it in. Savor it.
Be protected by these words.
Rejoice in it.
Celebrate it.
O Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining
This is the day and night of Our dear Savior’s, and Our birth.
Long lay my world and our world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared,
my Father and your Father,
my Brother and your Brother,
my Lover and your Lover
and my soul felt its worth
a thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices
for yonder and here breaks
a new and glorious morn—
Fall on my knees
I hear the angel voices
“O night divine when Christ was born,
O night, O night divine”

Breathe on me Jesus
Enflame my soul
Burst my dullness and darkness
Bring Light! Bring Light!
Use me
Your will be done
Shatter my deafness, my loneliness, and my darkness
Devour me so that I might live
Breathe in…
Breathe out…
Proclaim to all the world and universe
God is with us,
Always,
Until the end of time…and beyond!!!
o my! o wow! and oooh!!!

*************************************************************************
And then on Sunday morning as I was sipping my coffee on the back porch and praying the Office of Readings, I read the words of St. John Damascene, priest and doctor, on his feast day:

“O Lord, you led me from my father’s loins and formed me in my mother’s womb. You brought me, a naked babe, into the light of day, for nature’s laws always obey your commands.
By the blessing of the Holy Spirit, you prepared my creation and my existence, not because man willed it or flesh desired it, but by your ineffable grace. The birth you prepared for me was such that it surpassed the laws of our nature. You sent me forth into the light by adopting me as your son and you enrolled me among the children of your holy and spotless Church.
You nursed me with the spiritual milk of your divine utterances. You kept me alive with the solid food of the body of Jesus Christ, your only-begotten Son and our God, and you let me drink from the chalice of his life-giving blood, poured out to save the whole world.
You loved us, O Beloved…”

Beloved, I pray you are having a wonderful Advent. I am. This week I am going to be courageous and offer you a homework assignment. Go ahead and read Psalm 104 out loud. It speaks in very poetic words and imagery of how God creates our world and all who live in it. God is an Awesome God. God is Good…ALL THE TIME!
Yes, Jesus!

Love, joy, peace,
Father Ron Moses +

CROSSING THE LINE by Bill Cain

Review by: Ron Camarda, MWSA

Crossing the Line takes the reader on a journey to Iraq and back again. The subtitle is misleading. The story isn’t just about one soldier, his eight-month pregnant wife, his children, an embedded journalist, or even the 42nd Field Artillery Brigade faced with a deployment to a warzone that was different than any other war, and yet a war like all other wars. As the story unfolds, the reader is allowed to experience, taste and be frustrated by the absolute boredom, tedious desert buildup and the aching for home along with the adrenalin rushes of the battle. The book is personal.

Those of us who have served or deployed (and those of us who watched and prayed for a loved one go off to war and return), Bill Cain captures that incredible place where a few days of waiting seem like an endless twilight zone. As a young intelligence officer at the time, Cain gives insight about how difficult and frustrating simple communications were in 1991. Cain places letters and notes of family, peers and enlisted throughout the book in chronological order, even though many were actually received days, weeks, or months later. It seems to be effective. Bill was tortured by not knowing whether his son was born. Historically, this book is very important for us to understand a time when most communications were done by snail mail. Today it is unfathomable for us to experience a war without Skype, Facebook, or cell phones. Yet the real fear of biological and chemical warfare wreaked havoc on the troops and all of us back home. It reminded me of my first convoy in Iraq in 2004 when I was terrified, whiney and just didn’t know what was coming next. Cain does a good job in showing the differences and similarities of the two Iraq wars. If a picture is truly worth more than a thousand words, the picture of Cain just before deployment with his caption pierce our humanity: “That’s me in the holding area, Rhein Mein, trying to cope with all the emotions of the moment.”

Even after we veterans return, we notice that something is left undone. Something remains in the desert, in the loneliness of being with others, and longing for the love in our bed beside us. Lovers have lost days, weeks and months that will never ever be found. We attempt to write them in books, journals, poetry, or songs, but we seem to never finish the story that has no ending. Crossing the Line is about crossing into the place of being lost, and then taking a shot at finding our way home…even if home is now changed forever. The true war is within. It isn’t political, although it often masquerades behind the political, capitalist, or communist machines of man’s creation.

Bill and Renee’s son who was born during the Desert Storm is now almost 20 years old. Their children’s lives are forever affected by this five-month deployment to a war zone. Their choice of studies, the kind of family they grow, and their involvements with the military were and are probably profoundly affected. It was only mentioned that their oldest son served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Yes, we are soldiers and soldiers’ spouses…but our greatest love always sustains us and is victorious over any war or battle. The book left me longing for the real mark of the war in Bill’s relationship to his wife, family, and self over the years. Regrettably, Cain inadvertently puts too much emphasis on Saddam Hussein as the source of the war and evil. Much self-criticism of country and self is missing in action.

The last chapters were the most intriguing for me. Bill shares his wisdom as a seasoned colonel with his own bias that sometimes bordered on apologetics. In the chapters leading up to the “crossing of the line” I was a little bogged down by the military jargon, complaints, and tedious details of the plan of war. However, the weaving of Bill and Renee’s letters of love throughout the book kept the storyline anchored. Conclusions were based on his intimate experiences blended with his trustworthy and professional assessment in which disagreement was an option. On a few occasions his neutrality as an historian was skewed to the right, but for the most part he presented a very fair presentation. As one who went into Fallujah, Iraq in 2004 as a chaplain without this knowledge and understanding of the Gulf War, the book would be of great value for college and high school American History courses. The discussions would be lively.

When Bill writes about OIF: “…it’s easy to see how the insurgency was initially fueled by our failure to properly account for the immediate aftermath of war.” and “…it was clear that we had problems to solve beyond the enemy situation in Iraq.” These quotes revealed to me how crucial this book was to our growing awareness of the part we play in the wars of the world. Self-evaluation is always tough. Bill Cain was courageous in his attempt.

Bill Cain offers his own insight, craftily written to allow the reader to insert one’s own insight without negatively or positively reacting to the author. Bill is a hero for serving…especially for writing this thought provoking journey. It warrants all liberals and conservatives to read and then to come together and discuss on a back porch treating each other with profound respect and love.

This book was an honor to read. It offered me the opportunity to also go back to Iraq again to better understand what I (and those who love me) experienced. Thank you.