The human heart is not generous enough to give up all, and be satisfied with the love of God. It wishes other things besides God, and because God will have no other love in His place, it fears the love of God which demands this sacrifice, and it sacrifices God instead.
I would love to look deeper into the poem one day. This poem managed to convert the hearts of a few English readers to the Catholic faith. A poem with that kind of evangelical power deserves a deeper look.
The poem is rather dense, though. There are words that I’ve never seen before (i.e. “dravest”). And analyzing a poem seems a luxury in time that I don’t remember having since my undergraduate years.
Fortunately, for the time being, I can use the insights from Fr. J.F.X. O’Conor, S.J.
The men’s prayer group that I’m a part of finished “Prodigal God,” by Tim Keller and is now reading “From Wild Man to Wise Man,” by Richard Rohr. The switch from a Protestant theological book to a Catholic pastoral book has its challenges, but I think the Holy Spirit is with us. My discernment could be wrong, but I see an emerging “picture” of what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach us.
From “Prodigal God,” we were shaken from our comfort zones. It made us see that we were the “elder brothers” in the parable, comfortable in our faith, secure in our own righteousness. We realized that “if [we] have not grasped the gospel fully and deeply, [we] will return to being condescending, condemning, anxious, insecure, joyless, and angry all the time” (Chapter 4, page 70). We learned from Tim Keller that the parable of the prodigal son was not primarily to assure “younger brothers” of God’s unconditional love. It was a warning to moral insiders: “we must also repent of the reasons we ever did anything right” (Chapter 5, page 78). The true elder brother is Christ. We need to go through our own crucifixion, die to our self so that Christ can work through us. Then, we can answer the question, “Well, who should have gone out and searched for the lost son?” (page 80); the answer would be “Christ through me.”
Keller’s book left us asking for more. How can we become more like Christ? How can we die to our self and let Him live through us? The Holy Spirit helped us vote for Richard Rohr’s book.
While nearly everyone in the men’s group only has negative things to say about Rohr’s book, we all agree that the conversation is very enlightening. Again, I could be wrong, but I think that’s a sign that the Holy Spirit is with us. How can so much disagreement be productive? How can so many men’s egos be kept in check if not for the Holy Spirit giving us the grace to be humble? It’s Emmanuel, “God is with us.”
Putting aside the poor writing style and weak Scriptural references, “From Wild Man to Wise Man” is already leading us on the male spiritual journey it purports to do. Just this past Saturday, I woke up at 4:30 in the morning with a personal revelation about my journey. Another man in the group is currently a lot closer to God because the Holy Spirit is making him face a mental anguish that he would rather avoid. The first ten chapters of the book led our rag-tag group of men to a precipice. Whether we decide to jump and experience the frightening fall to self-awareness is our choice. But it’s certainly exciting to see the Holy Spirit working among us!
This is a short 1-minute video of Pope Francis walking among the crowds on May 8th, hugging and blessing children. He was getting ready for his General Audience in St. Peter’s Square. I especially love the one clip where he gives a young girl his skull cap, or zucchetto. The girl looked liked she was going to cry from joy as she leaned forward to hug him!
My wife found this hilarious YouTube video that took the classical symphonic piece Carmina Burana and changed the lyrics. There was a contest for the new lyrics and a father, Matthew Hodge, won with his entry. Being parents ourselves, my wife and I really appreciated this:
No one talks about the devil anymore. No one believes that he exists. If anyone were to talk about the devil, he’d be considered a religious fanatic, unscientific, and old-fashioned.
If the devil was real, then what a victory for him! Isn’t that a principal in warfare? Convince your target that no threat exists. The devil, if he exists, has so thoroughly convinced the world that he doesn’t exist that I had to resort to using a work of fiction as an analogy: what Lord Voldemort did in Harry Potter is what the devil is doing in our world, today. By the time popular culture admits that the devil exists, it would be too late — just like it was too late for the wizarding and Muggle world in J.K. Rowling’s story. Fortunately, the wizarding/Muggle world had Harry Potter. We have Christ.
So, I was pleased to hear the leader of the Catholic Church talk about the devil so unabashedly:
There can be no dialogue with the prince of this world: let this be clear! Today, dialogue is necessary among us humans, it is necessary for peace. Dialogue is a habit, it is an attitude that we must have among us to feel and understand each other… and that [dialogue] must be maintained forever. Dialogue comes from charity, from love. But with that prince, it is impossible to dialogue: one can only respond with the Word of God who defends us, for the world hates us – and just as he did with Jesus, so will he do with us. “Only look,” he will say, “just do this one small little scam… it is a small matter, nothing really” – and so he begins to lead us on a road that is slightly off. This is a pious lie: “Do it, do it, do it: there is no problem,” and it begins little by little, always, no? Then [he says]: “But… you’re good, you’re a good person: You [get away with] it.” It is flattering – and he softens us by flattery: and then, we fall into the trap.
Pope Francis went on to say that the Lord asks us to remain sheep, because if one decides to quit the fold, then he does not have, “a shepherd to defend him and he falls into the clutches of these wolves.”
How can we defend ourselves? Pope Francis continues:
You may ask the question “Father, what is the weapon to defend against these seductions, from these blandishments, these enticements that the prince of this world offers?” The weapon is the same weapon of Jesus, the Word of God – not dialogue – but always the Word of God, and then humility and meekness. We think of Jesus, when they give that slap: what humility! What meekness! He could have insulted him, no? One question, meek and humble. We think of Jesus in His Passion. His Prophet says: “As a sheep going to the slaughter.” He does not cry out, not at all: humility. Humility and meekness. These are the weapons that the prince and spirit of this world does not tolerate, for his proposals are proposals for worldly power, proposals of vanity, proposals for ill-gotten riches.