Thursday, April 9, 2009

Connecting to ultimate realities

Bill Saunders on how the Catholic faith answers the deepest longings of the human heart:

Two weeks ago, I visited the grave of my mother for the first time since her funeral. A friend and I prayed aloud a rosary for my lady and for the repose of her soul.

Standing in the dirt and grass over the grave, with the rosary in my hand, praying as Our Lady taught us, seemed truer to reality than any prayer had before. I felt consoled, yes, but more importantly, I felt connected to the ultimate realities – to God, to His mother, to mine, to the life beyond the grave, and to the incarnate life to come in the resurrection of the just.

I thank the Catholic Church for giving us a faith that touches – and transforms – physical reality. I thank the Church for a faith that, during Lent, leads us to deny our physical selves so we can more deeply connect to God, but a faith that then leads us, in the Triduum, to the very messy and unpleasant physical reality of pain and suffering and death, a reality that would be a horror but for the One Who redeemed it by dying for us, and for our beloved dead.
Saunders' encapsulation of the Catholic understanding of the resurrection of the dead reminds me I cannot understand why the Oprah crowd—or anyone not raised Buddhist or Hindu—can be so attached to the concept of reincarnation.

The idea of "coming back" until one "gets it right" sounds like a living hell. The promise of the resurrection gives life meaning and purpose, especially as it invites me to enlarge my heart in this life so that God may fill it in heaven. Instead of being doomed to an amnesia-plagued repetition of "lives," this single earthly life becomes the beginning of a continuum of love, as my personal identity—memory, intellect, and will—extends across time and, Lord willing, eventually finds its rest in God.