Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A guest post by FATHER JOSEPH LODY

Written for the 27th annual Chesterton Conference

[Note from Dawn: The following was written by Father Lody after he was asked to prepare a "backup homily" for Mass at the end of the American Chesterton Society's Chesterton Conference last month, in case Father Dwight Longenecker was unable to stay the duration of the conference. (As it happened, Father Longenecker did stay, and has since posted his address.) Father Lody graciously forwarded me his own homily after I wrote to ask about it. His words touched me, and I am thankful for the opportunity to share them.]

We all look for heroes in our lives
be they children, husbands or wives
or presidents, athletes, it doesn’t matter
someone whose role is simply to shatter
the status quo of our own existence
that returns with such dogged persistence
that everything now must be new and improved
flashier, shinier, we must be in tune
with the sacred space of our own imagination
that gives preferential option to culture’s determination
that everything bound with respect to tradition
should somehow be treated as acts of sedition
but we’ve all heard it, G.K. Chesterton has said
we are to honor our elders, it’s the democracy of the dead.

And where humanity at some point must certainly fail
we turn to ideology, believing it will prevail
but the persistent disquiet within our soul
won’t let simple concepts fulfill the role
that God has ordained
but we have refrained
from letting Him in
by persisting in sin.
So we keep on looking and latching and falling
because we continually miss our calling
to be the fathers and mothers, children, husbands and wives
in His own kingdom, of which we form part
united in love around His most Sacred Heart.

So no wonder we keep searching for someone to lead us
no wonder we think ideology will complete us
it’s the natural consequence of boxing God in
when we ignore the Beginning, we know not where where to begin
no, this act of non-faith is not inconsequential
when you remove the supernatural, what’s left is un-natural.

So where do we begin in our search for His grace?
It is always before us, right in our face
they have two eyes, a nose, two ears and a mouth
and they come from all over, yes even the South.
The Kingdom’s comprised of those before us and after us
and most profoundly experienced among those who are with is
to single out those to whom we show love
is to miss completely the point of living above
to live transcendental lives is to care for His grace
to cherish it, nourish it, living on pace
with His hopes for us, prodding us, with gentle correction
never, even once, expecting perfection
just hoping that someday, we’ll come to rely
on His love, instead of looking for yet another alibi.

Our hero’s our own Father, whose love for His son
runs deeper than Isaac, but now we have won
we who grab onto His thorns, His nails and His tears
and gone are distractions, false worship and fears
when Life conquered death, it is we who have won
we who refuse to let go of the Triune One.

So why do we look for a hero? For hope.
When God is left out, we’re at the end of our rope.
Hope springs not eternal, it springs from the eternal
and without this acknowledgement, our life is infernal.
So we lean on Tradition, on those who got it right
we lean on the Eucharist, and day springs from the night
we lean on each-other, there’s no need to search
for someone to save us, get us free from this lurch
unless of course it’s Chesterton, who always pointed above,
in his daily attempts to personify love.

Love is patient, it is kind, it is most profoundly blind
and if we attempt it, we know we will find

the One who’s been beside us, waiting to be found
the One who’s been watching us run our lives into the ground
in our hurried and harried, “no time for” existence
He’s been quietly hanging, in patient insistence
in desire that one day we will turn around
to see glimpses of His kingdom, on earth, heaven-bound
glimpses caught in distractions, in constantly buying
glimpses caught up in anger, in people so trying
in people caught up in aggression, or some other obsession
still the Kingdom is present, though very much hidden
it may be there only when we bring it, where God’s peace is bidden.
Wherever just a few of us are gathered in His name
we know that our lives can never be the same
because the harvest is abundant, and the laborers are few
and constructing His kingdom is what He expects us to do

so it’s not about us, it’s not about how we feel
when it comes to His mandate to make His love real

because He knows what will happen to us when we respond
we’ll be united with Him in an inseparable bond.

Love is patient, it is kind, it is most profoundly blind
and if we attempt it, we know we will find


Father Joseph Lody is a priest of the Diocese of Birmingham, Alabama.