Fr. Daniel Gifford
THE WEIGHT OF HIDDEN GLORY
Last week, we made use of insights from the Christian author C.S. Lewis to reflect on the weight of temptation. Yet, this same Christian author is also known for having written a beautiful meditation on The Weight of Glory. It seems like cheating you to summarize the point of this brief address (published in a book of the same title), rather than simply encouraging you to some time read his incredibly rich and eloquently crafted words. And I do recommend that, but I will still try to capture his point, in order to work my way toward my own. Perhaps without trying, Lewis helps us understand the purpose of our Lenten self-denials, our small sacrifices. He does so by reminding us that, despite all of the vain things of this world to which we turn to far too easily satisfy our desires, “we remain conscious of a desire which no natural happiness will satisfy.” In short, this is the deepest desire within us for that eternal happiness found only in eternal communion with God in heaven. He describes the glory of that heavenly encounter with our Creator in a manner that helps us to realize the great weight of that glory, that of being looked upon with favor by our loving God, for all eternity no less. By the time Lewis comes to his end, it becomes clear how much better we would love one another - indeed how much more clearly we would see one another - if only we considered this incredible weight of glory, of being made for eternity with God, toward which we must seek to direct one another’s gaze. Yet, this weight of glory is hidden from the eyes, while the hope for it still burns deep within each of our chests. It requires, not only the eyes of faith, but indeed also of hope and of love, to see this hope of glory, hidden in the
ordinariness of our neighbor, who Lewis tells us is “next to the Blessed Sacrament itself… the holiest object presented to your senses.” Certainly, Our Lady had such eyes, illumined by faith, hope and love, as she looked upon her Son, when she met Him along the way of the cross (front cover). While this weekend’s Gospel tells us of an instance in which three of His Apostles were given a glimpse of His glory, hidden within His human nature, Mary’s natural eyes could not have beheld that glory on that Friday called Good. They beheld a man suffering intense pain, indeed a Face that might have been scarcely recognizable beneath blood, sweat, dirt and the spit of the cruelest of scoffers. But, Mary’s eyes of faith, hope and love did not behold this pitiful sight alone. They beheld her Son, carrying a cross that was not His own, yet which He alone could carry. They beheld love. The hidden Glory of Love is often buried beneath an edifice of pain. No, this is not the meaningless pain which so often causes scoffers to despair as they pass on by, but a purposeful pain, skillfully crafted by a master architect who seeks to draw the jaded hearts of those same passers-by inside to come discover the glory hidden within. Such was the sight that was seen on the way of the cross, as that temple passed by which was to be destroyed and on the third day be raised. And like those many edifices of cathedrals which countless scoffers pass by, so also along the way of the cross not every heart would be drawn, not every eye would see. But those that do see, those that are drawn, will enter in to see the glory hidden within. And they will insist that they were drawn by something both within themselves and without. For indeed, Lewis was quite right, there is a desire within us for something far greater than this world can offer. It is the desire for a love greater even than any of the loves of this world, noble as they may be. It is the desire for the love of God. It is the desire for that eternal weight of glory, which is the Father’s blessing, resting upon us and reminding us who we are. This Glory of Love is indeed worth every sacrifice, worth forsaking every vain pursuit of this life we take up in order to quell our desires. Sadly, many will not make that sacrifice and so they will not taste that glory. Just as many did not recognize Love Himself, as He passed along the way of the cross, but only saw a disgraced criminal. Just as many will not see in their neighbor one who is destined for the same weight of glory and seek to help him reach it. Just as many will not see it within themselves. The tragedy of this fact should move our hearts in the Lenten season. It should motivate our prayer, our fasting, and our almsgiving. Let us ask Mary, who saw what others could not, to allow our eyes, our hearts, and our hands to come alive with faith, hope and love, so that when we meet our neighbor along the way of the cross, we may lend our shoulders, to help him bear the weight of his cross, in order to reach that great weight of glory.
MISSED THE MOVIE?: Speaking of hidden glory, the topic has come up recently of the glory of God’s plan for love and life, which sadly remains unknown to many. In our hopes to let the secret out, we had a wonderful viewing of the documentary Sexual Revolution: 50 Years Since Humanae Vitae at the start of Lent. I want to thank Bethany Brigham for not only her initiation of the idea, but also all of the hard work she put into promotion, refreshments and other aspects. Some expressed interest in it, despite being unable to attend the viewing. We do have it available to be checked out, for anyone who is interested. Simply contact the parish office to inquire.
MORE ON THE GLORY OF GOD’S PLAN FOR LOVE: Also, the night of our Holy Hour for Marriage, I read the following passage from Paul VI (Humanae Vitae): “Married love particularly reveals its true nature and nobility when we realize that it takes its origin from God, who "is love," the Father "from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named." Marriage, then, is far from being the effect of chance or the result of the blind evolution of natural forces. It is in reality the wise and provident institution of God the Creator, whose purpose was to effect in man His loving design. As a consequence, husband and wife, through that mutual gift of themselves, which is specific and exclusive to them alone, develop that union of two persons in which they perfect one another, cooperating with God in the generation and rearing of new lives. The marriage of those who have been baptized is, in addition, invested with the dignity of a sacramental sign of grace, for it represents the union of Christ and His Church.” … To Be Continued...
In Christ through Mary,
St. Louis, pray for us!
Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!