Tuesday, September 17, 2013

50 Days of Prayer - Day 24

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Day Twenty-Four

The Great Divorces

I'm not referring to the title of C. S. Lewis' compelling novel, The Great Divorce, which is about the divide between heaven and hell, but to the other "divorces" that complicate our modern lives.

First, and most obviously, we have become a people of divorce and remarriage, ignoring Our Lord's commands on this issue and tarnishing the sacrament to such an extent that now we even think buggery or passing affection should be confirmed with the title "marriage".  This is because we don't really believe marriage is a thing.  We think it's a fiction, something in our minds, not a real change on the level of one's being.  Perhaps we don't think anything is a "real thing" - that we can shift reality at our slightest whim.  And this is a symptom of a deeper divorce.

For we divorce our spouses because we are divorced from a greater marriage.

Yesterday we prayed the mystery of the Rosary that focuses on the Last Supper and the Initiation of the Holy Eucharist.  Today we contemplate the opposite of that mystery.  For in the Eucharist, bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus Christ.  And we, in Baptism, and in receiving His flesh become members of His Body.  St. Paul calls the Church the Body of Christ in a way that is not just symbolic or metaphorical.  In the same way that the bread and wine literally become the Body of Christ, so we who are baptized and who receive His flesh literally become members of His Body.

And a husband and wife become "one flesh" in a way that goes beyond a mere figure of speech.

But the Great Divorce at the heart of our rebellion against all of this is a denial of the Incarnation.  We do not think that spirit and matter can really go together.  We are Gnostic and Manichean.  We think spiritual things must be divorced from those ugly and sluggish material things.  We think we can be "spiritual but not religious", as if an idea is effectual without being lived out, enfleshed.

This is why we, as a culture, have so much sex, so much meaningless, promiscuous, perverse and unsatisfying sex.  It's because the body and the soul do not go together at a basic level in our primitive and pagan way of thinking, the thinking that we call "modern".  If sex were an expression not merely of the flesh, but of the spirit, we would be far less tempted to be the horn-dogs that we are.  For we would see the spirit that is in sex, not only in the messy and compelling biological act of having sex, but in the messy and compelling thing that goes along with it - the family: babies, marriage, love, sacrifice.

But we want to keep the spirit divorced from the flesh and the flesh divorced from the spirit.  It's more convenient that way.  It's easier to manage, and we can more easily indulge one or the other - we can have wonderful airy and precious feelings of being spiritual, while screwing our neighbor in more ways than one.

The antidote to all this is the Incarnation.  And the Incarnation, as we will soon see in the next cycle of mysteries, leads inevitably, for all of us, to the Crucifixion.

As Chesterton said of Peter Pan ...

He might have chosen love, with the inevitable result of love, which is incarnation, and the inevitable result of incarnation, which is crucifixion.

But more on that later.

For now, let us meditate on the mystery of the Word becoming Flesh - the New Creation - God made man and nature redeemed.  For only that is the antidote to the Great Divorces of our day.

And let us pray ...

To you, Immaculate Heart of Mary, we consecrate ourselves – our hearts, minds, wills and lives and all those works we undertake so they may be for the glory of God, for the sake of the Gospel and the salvation of souls. Holy Mother, our Queen and our Joy, give to our hearts the dimensions of yours and form us in the image of your beloved Son.

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