To Love As She Is Loved (Re-Post and Updated)

Early Morning

He sleeps quietly, but her eyes are open.  Laying her head softly on his shoulder, she feels his chest rise and fall and thinks she can hear his heart beating.  She wants to whisper “my husband,” but says “my lord, my baal.” She sighs, thinking ‘if today I can please my baal, maybe today – just for today – my baal will love me.”

The others were not righteous men.  They divorced her publicly, with accusation, taunt, and shame. Each time it was the same: months passed, no child. First came with words – the sarcasm, the ridicule, the hatred.  She tried yet harder; tried desperately. When words were not enough and the shame was too great, the beatings began.  She knew she deserved them and accepted them. She would try harder. Next came the concubine, next the divorce.  Once again, she had failed; she could not give her husband what he wanted.

At first, the contempt stung.  She yearned to cry out, to tell others that she tried, that she wanted to present her husband with a child. But with each divorce, her shame deepened.  She learned how to live with it.  They were, after all, right.

Her baal needed water.  She needed to go and get it; maybe today he will be pleased.  Around noon, she goes to get it.

In the distance, she sees a man at the well, the well given to her people by their father, Jacob. Curious.  Who is this man?  She continued to the well; her baal needed water.

Looking closely at the man, she notices that he is a Jew.  She looks around furtively – fortunately, there were no others. At least he would not speak to her and she would not speak to him – Samaritans did not speak to Jews and Jews did not speak to Samaritans.  She was safe.

“Will you give me a drink?”  Did he really speak to me? What a voice. She had never heard a voice like that. None of her husbands had spoken to her like that. Not even her baal. She noticed her heart beating faster; her cheeks warming; her mouth slightly smiling. NO. NO. NO. She violently told herself that she would not react like that, that she needed to get back to her baal and that he would not be pleased if she tarried. Yet, that voice….

“You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?”  That should do it.  Now, he’ll go away.  He shouldn’t have spoken to me in the first place.  Let me hurry to get the water for my baal.  If I am late, he will be displeased and I so want to please him. She bent to fill her jar.

“If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” That voice.  Who is this man? No, I don’t know who is asking me for a drink.  But it almost seems that he knows me. . . .no, that’s impossible.  I don’t associate with Jews.  How can this be? Let me be logical, practical with him. Then maybe he will go away, maybe my longing will too.

“Sir, you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?”  Take that. Only God is greater than our father Jacob.  As she said this, she looks closely at his face.  There is something about it, about him that she had never run into before.  The voice, the face – he knows me but there is something more…something that she didn’t have the word for.

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  Never be thirsty again? Never come to this well, never lug the heavy jar back to my baal?  What is it that this man is offering? Who is this man and why is my heart beating fast and why am I smiling? Why does he move me? Thank goodness, this man is a stranger and does not know my shame.  ‘Living water’ – whatever that is – is not for me.

“Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”  There, I said it.  What will he say?

“Go, call your husband and come back.” Oh, no. He knows or does he?   What will he think?  What does he see in me? Why did he ask that?  What now?  Do I lie? No, that is unthinkable, but I can’t tell the truth.  Do I leave?  Do I back away? What do I do?

I have no husband.”  There it’s out. . . please don’t send me away.  I want this water, whatever it is; I know you know what I yearn for. You know that  I’ve secretly yearned for it.  I’ve yearned for it from each of the unrighteous ones, I’ve yearned for it from my baal.  I knew it wasn’t for me, but I could never stop wanting it. Not just shelter, affection, dignity. Something greater than these, but includes them, too.  I know it’s not water, but whatever it is I want it and I want it from this man. But who is this man?

“You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” How does he know? He can’t know.  He’s a stranger.  He’s a Jew.  Yet, he, too knows my shame. He knows. Yet, he isn’t sending me away. All the others do. Most do not let me speak or turn their heads without hearing. Yet, if he said I could stay, I wouldn’t know what to do.  I’d be lost, I’d be frightened.  What is going on – I’m confused.  I must take my time; I will be here tomorrow, but this man may not.

He is still speaking to me. He is telling me about my whole life.  All the good, all the shame.  Everything. He knows how I hoped for a child and the sorrow I felt each time a child did not come and what’s more, in some way I think he felt it too.  He knows the deepest longings – the longings of which I have told no one and is telling me that his ‘living water’ is the only way that will fulfill those longings. He tells me of things I have done – things that pleased him in some way.  But how can he know? I don’t know, but I know that he does. This man is a true prophet.

“Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” He knows the truth about me, maybe he will tell us that the Jews are wrong about how and where to worship and that we are right. I will do whatever he tells me.

“Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” Funny, when he says “salvation is from the Jews,” it doesn’t bother me.  This is strange – exciting, frightening, –  I hope this prophet will tell me how to worship in Spirit and Truth.  I want to worship the Father as he tells me; he is greater than our father, Jacob.

“I know that Messiah” (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Could he. . .

“I who speak to you am he.” She looked upon him speechless with awe, excitement, and yes, love.  It was a feeling she hardly remembered. Who is coming? Another group of Jews.  Please let me be alone with the prophet…please… Quizzical looks, murmuring, intimacy broken… leaving the water, she hastens to town to tell the good news that she, she the shamed one, had found the Messiah, called Christ.

Ten Years Later

Once the headaches began, they never went away.  After a while, the chills began.  Soon she could not get up.  Her children and her husband took tender care of her. She never forgot the prophet and what he told her.  In an instant, she could summon in her mind’s eye every detail of his face, his voice (oh, that voice – tender and full of compassion), every detail.  She could remember when he left never to return.  She could remember the stories she heard about a great rabbi teaching in Jerusalem and throughout Judea and how he was killed. She did not know if that great rabbi was the prophet, but she treasured the experience of him in her heart.  She knew the time would soon come for her to pass from this earth and she remembered his promise to her:  “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.” This – to worship the Father in spirit and in truth forever – had been her deepest longing, a longing that the prophet and his living water would soon fulfill.

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To Love As She Is Loved (Re-Post and Updated)

Early Morning

He sleeps quietly, but her eyes are open.  Laying her head softly on his shoulder, she feels his chest rise and fall and thinks she can hear his heart beating.  She wants to whisper “my husband,” but says “my lord, my baal.” She sighs, thinking ‘if today I can please my baal, maybe today – just for today – my baal will love me.”

The others were not righteous men.  They divorced her publicly, with accusation, taunt, and shame. Each time it was the same: months passed, no child. First came with words – the sarcasm, the ridicule, the hatred.  She tried yet harder; tried desperately. When words were not enough and the shame was too great, the beatings began.  She knew she deserved them and accepted them. She would try harder. Next came the concubine, next the divorce.  Once again, she had failed; she could not give her husband what he wanted.

At first, the contempt stung.  She yearned to cry out, to tell others that she tried, that she wanted to present her husband with a child. But with each divorce, her shame deepened.  She learned how to live with it.  They were, after all, right.

Her baal needed water.  She needed to go and get it; maybe today he will be pleased.  Around noon, she goes to get it.

In the distance, she sees a man at the well, the well given to her people by their father, Jacob. Curious.  Who is this man?  She continued to the well; her baal needed water.

Looking closely at the man, she notices that he is a Jew.  She looks around furtively – fortunately, there were no others. At least he would not speak to her and she would not speak to him – Samaritans did not speak to Jews and Jews did not speak to Samaritans.  She was safe.

“Will you give me a drink?”  Did he really speak to me? What a voice. She had never heard a voice like that. None of her husbands had spoken to her like that. Not even her baal. She noticed her heart beating faster; her cheeks warming; her mouth slightly smiling. NO. NO. NO. She violently told herself that she would not react like that, that she needed to get back to her baal and that he would not be pleased if she tarried. Yet, that voice….

“You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?”  That should do it.  Now, he’ll go away.  He shouldn’t have spoken to me in the first place.  Let me hurry to get the water for my baal.  If I am late, he will be displeased and I so want to please him. She bent to fill her jar.

“If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” That voice.  Who is this man? No, I don’t know who is asking me for a drink.  But it almost seems that he knows me. . . .no, that’s impossible.  I don’t associate with Jews.  How can this be? Let me be logical, practical with him. Then maybe he will go away, maybe my longing will too.

“Sir, you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?”  Take that. Only God is greater than our father Jacob.  As she said this, she looks closely at his face.  There is something about it, about him that she had never run into before.  The voice, the face – he knows me but there is something more…something that she didn’t have the word for.

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  Never be thirsty again? Never come to this well, never lug the heavy jar back to my baal?  What is it that this man is offering? Who is this man and why is my heart beating fast and why am I smiling? Why does he move me? Thank goodness, this man is a stranger and does not know my shame.  ‘Living water’ – whatever that is – is not for me.

“Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”  There, I said it.  What will he say?

“Go, call your husband and come back.” Oh, no. He knows or does he?   What will he think?  What does he see in me? Why did he ask that?  What now?  Do I lie? No, that is unthinkable, but I can’t tell the truth.  Do I leave?  Do I back away? What do I do?

I have no husband.”  There it’s out. . . please don’t send me away.  I want this water, whatever it is; I know you know what I yearn for. You know that  I’ve secretly yearned for it.  I’ve yearned for it from each of the unrighteous ones, I’ve yearned for it from my baal.  I knew it wasn’t for me, but I could never stop wanting it. Not just shelter, affection, dignity. Something greater than these, but includes them, too.  I know it’s not water, but whatever it is I want it and I want it from this man. But who is this man?

“You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” How does he know? He can’t know.  He’s a stranger.  He’s a Jew.  Yet, he, too knows my shame. He knows. Yet, he isn’t sending me away. All the others do. Most do not let me speak or turn their heads without hearing. Yet, if he said I could stay, I wouldn’t know what to do.  I’d be lost, I’d be frightened.  What is going on – I’m confused.  I must take my time; I will be here tomorrow, but this man may not.

He is still speaking to me. He is telling me about my whole life.  All the good, all the shame.  Everything. He knows how I hoped for a child and the sorrow I felt each time a child did not come and what’s more, in some way I think he felt it too.  He knows the deepest longings – the longings of which I have told no one and is telling me that his ‘living water’ is the only way that will fulfill those longings. He tells me of things I have done – things that pleased him in some way.  But how can he know? I don’t know, but I know that he does. This man is a true prophet.

“Sir, I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” He knows the truth about me, maybe he will tell us that the Jews are wrong about how and where to worship and that we are right. I will do whatever he tells me.

“Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” Funny, when he says “salvation is from the Jews,” it doesn’t bother me.  This is strange – exciting, frightening, –  I hope this prophet will tell me how to worship in Spirit and Truth.  I want to worship the Father as he tells me; he is greater than our father, Jacob.

“I know that Messiah” (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Could he. . .

“I who speak to you am he.” She looked upon him speechless with awe, excitement, and yes, love.  It was a feeling she hardly remembered. Who is coming? Another group of Jews.  Please let me be alone with the prophet…please… Quizzical looks, murmuring, intimacy broken… leaving the water, she hastens to town to tell the good news that she, she the shamed one, had found the Messiah, called Christ.

Ten Years Later

Once the headaches began, they never went away.  After a while, the chills began.  Soon she could not get up.  Her children and her husband took tender care of her. She never forgot the prophet and what he told her.  In an instant, she could summon in her mind’s eye every detail of his face, his voice (oh, that voice – tender and full of compassion), every detail.  She could remember when he left never to return.  She could remember the stories she heard about a great rabbi teaching in Jerusalem and throughout Judea and how he was killed. She did not know if that great rabbi was the prophet, but she treasured the experience of him in her heart.  She knew the time would soon come for her to pass from this earth and she remembered his promise to her:  “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.” This – to worship the Father in spirit and in truth forever – had been her deepest longing, a longing that the prophet and his living water would soon fulfill.

One Way To Help Build A Culture Of Life, part I

The premise of the culture of life is that each person is made in the image of God and called by Him for a purpose that no one else can fulfill.  It follows from this that each person is and always remains a person.

Many things we say contradict this idea.  We often encounter people who have lost their minds.  Life for these people and those around them can be very difficult.  Often one hears  “oh, so and so — (let’s call him “Bob”) —  has been gone a long time.”  But that’s a lie, isn’t it? Bob is still there.  The Bob that we want to remember; the Bob that we have constructed in our memories (who may never have been there in the first place as memories often have a life of their own) may be gone,” but that’s NOT Bob.   The Anchoress made this point poignantly when she discussed her own situation:

Not so the neurological issues. At the peak of my illness I was unable to figure out how to do the dishes; my organizational skills have never fully recovered, and verbally I sometimes wander into strange lands, referring to cereal as cookies, or to hats as helmets. When that happens, and after I have apologized to my family for sending them into hysterics or on goose chases, I will ask, “Are you going to get rid of me, when my mind is gone?”

In the article from which this quotation is taken, she makes the point with a story:

A neighbor of mine works as a therapist for Alzheimer’s patients, both high-functioning and low. She recently described one sixty-ish daily visitor. “He is a saint. Every day he brings his lunch and eats with his wife. She doesn’t recognize him, so every day she is meeting a new friend. When we told him he needn’t come so often he said, ‘But she is my bride; if I did not see her, I would miss her.’” (emphasis in original).

That “sixty-ish daily visitor” is a hero of love.

What can we do? The answer is simple.  Never say or do anything that suggests that a person whose mind is gone is no longer a person or even the same person.  We may never be called to bear the burdens that the Anchoress will bear, that the “sixty-ish daily visitor” is bearing, and that others close to people who’s minds are gone are bearing.  We can, however, always affirm that people who have lost their minds are still people and always the same people that God created, loves, and wants to be in Heaven with Him.

Footnotes In The Bible: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

We Church Guys know our footnotes.  We chat about text and after we decide what it means, we check the footnotes.  Eric Sammons has a thing or two to say about that in an excellent blog post titled “Why Footnotes In Most Bibles Stink.” I agree with his second reason more than his first.   Check it out and let’s get a conversation going.

How Many Types Of Catholic Bloggers?

Over at Patheos, Max Lindenman chronicles 9 types of the Catholics that he’s observed.  These, of course, are exagerated for effect.  Here is his list (I will leave the full explanations to him at this link):

1.     The Chief Mourner.  “For this nostalgic soul, spiritual perfection was realized in some Church figure of his/her youth[.]”  I know a few.

2.    The Closet Sedevacantist.  “This master of reductive reasoning finds one explanation and one explanation only for every woe that plagues the Church. He blames the Second Vatican Council. . . .”  In my experience, the most common form of this neurosis focuses not so much on the Second Vatican Council, but on the “Spirit of Vatican II.”  These folks often end up as real sedevacantists when they read the document of the Council and see their brilliance and profound, if challenging, wisdom.  The question is then whether their sedevacantism prevails over their faith.  To learn more about sedevacantism and why it is bunk (charitable, I know), visit the Faith of Our Fathers Apologetics Blog.

3.    Casper the Friendly Ghost:   The closet sedevacantist’s natural counterpart and constant incubus, this person pines aloud for the Spirit of Vatican II.”

4.     The Heretic Hunter: “If there’s one thing this guardian of orthodoxy simply can’t abide, it’s dissent. An uber-ultramontanist, . . .”  I think Lindenman incorrectly describes these folks as Ultramontanists, but the stereotype is very recognizable.

5.      Dopus Dei: “This tireless watchdog knows the Church is writhing in the steely grip of a personal prelature with 90,000 members. He has the goods, you see, because he’s bestowed more clicks on the Opus Dei Awareness Network website than any member of Opus Dei. . . .”  This is the only one of Lindenman’s list that I have never encountered.

6.     Fetus Frenzy:  “This pious and tenderhearted Catholic is the best friend the unborn will ever have—just ask her.”  This is a perfect example of how the comments sections are polarizing.

7.      Seamless Garment:  “Meet Fetus Frenzy’s arch-nemesis. This natural-born contrarian is a firm believer in a consistent ethic of life. He is a firm disbeliever in episcopal integrity. . . .”  Look over at any of the blogs at the National Catholic Reporter and you’ll see many of these folks.

8.     ” “I’ll pray for you [and the horse you rode in on]”: This bubbling well of caritas has taken a creative approach to anger management.”  Then’s there’s the opposite of this guy — will you pray for me?

9.     “Learn humility!” . . .”His favorite rhetorical stealth warhead is “Learn humility,” or, on stilts, “I seriously suggest you consider learning some humility!”

Lindenman closes his piece by noting the “Mass Nazi” — the folks who screech at every departure from the official rubrics no matter how minor.

I would also add the “Monks.”  These are the commenters, like those on this blog, who comment silently.  Are there any other types you’d like to add?

When Does Lent 2011 End? (Update)

Good news for all of us struggling with our Lenten vows:  Lent officially ends on April 21, 2011 at the time the Mass of the Lord’s Supper begins.  According to the General Norm 28,

Lent runs from Ash Wednesday until the Mass of the Lord’s Supper exclusive.

Of course, we’ll all be in Mass so it’ll be difficult to take advantage of the timing!

_________

Update:

The end of Lent does not mean the end of fasting.  We just replace our Lenten vow with a traditional Easter Fast until Easter Sunday:

On Good Friday and, if possible, also on Holy Saturday until the Easter Vigil, the Easter fast is observed everywhere.

General Norm 20.

Looking At Abortion From A Different Angle


A friend of the SFA Men of Emmaus sent this along:

A worried woman went to her gynecologist and  said:
‘Doctor, I have a serious problem and desperately need your  help! My baby is not even 1 year old and I’m pregnant again. I don’t want kids so close together.So the doctor said: ‘Ok and what do you want me to do?’

She said: ‘I want you to end my pregnancy, and I’m  counting on your help with this.’
The doctor thought for a little, and after some silence he said to the lady: ‘I think I have a better solution for your problem. It’s less dangerous for you too.’
She  smiled, thinking that the doctor was going to accept her request.
Then he continued: ‘You see, in order for you not to have to take  care 2 babies at the same time, let’s kill the one in your arms. This way,  you could rest some before the other one is born. If we’re going to kill  one of them, it doesn’t matter which one it is. There would be no risk for  your body if you chose the one in your arms.

The lady was horrified and said: ‘No doctor! How  terrible! It’s a crime to kill a child!
‘I agree’, the doctor replied.  ‘But you seemed to be OK with it, so I thought maybe that was the best solution.’
The doctor smiled, realizing that he had made his point.
He convinced the mom that there is no difference in killing a child that’s already been born and one that’s still in the womb.
The crime  is the same!

Learn from Yesterday,  live for Today, hope for Tomorrow..

Love says I sacrifice myself for the good of the other person. Abortion says I sacrifice the other person for the good of myself…”

[ed. — Also, check out the trailer for “To Be Born”]

source: unknown