Station #3 I make a right turn and head for Campion College. I know that this is a place to address the unquenchable thirst for answers, for happiness.
As I became aware that Tanis was experiencing every assault that the disease multiple myeloma could throw at her I went through my own journey of anguish and bewilderment. Where could I go to deal with this? My prayer turned into a more intense struggle, a time of conversion bringing me face-to-face with underlying truths. The first to surface was simple--God has no grandchildren—only children. As loving Father, he cares about what is going on. Moreover He can make everything work for enrichment, especially in Tanis’ unique and formidable journey. At certain times Tanis’ Father has to tell me, “Sit still, dad. This lies outside your competence. I’ve got this covered!” Just recently Tanis had to tell me, “Dad, quit trying to fix things. My family and I accept what my situation is. We put ourselves in the hands of medical expertise, and we do all that we can.”
The second truth I am shown is how to pray in a transformative way. No longer do I simply pray for healing. I ask her Father to give my daughter the faith necessary to turn to the One who desires to travel with her and lead her to where all hearts really long to be--in fullness of being. One day after I had a particularly difficult night of retched pondering and prayer, I had the chance to visit her in the hospital. She told me, “Oh dad, I should tell you that Father Gerry visited me in the hospital yesterday to minister the Eucharist. He asked me if I wished to receive the Anointing of the Sick. I told him ‘yes’.”
This gives me a new question to add to those of human existence; “Just what is going on in these Sacraments, as offered by a Chaplain or a visiting priest that seem to be so important?”
The third Station is located in the Chapel of Campion College. I go to a small room located at the back of the worshipping area, a room with the Book on a stand, a Wooden Cross and a Tabernacle. I open the Book to the creation stories. There I encounter sacred stories about the origin of the human race. No small claims made here…we are created in the image and likeness of the One who has the intelligence, goodness and power to create the universe considered in Station #2?
An incomplete world has been placed in our hands and we are to keep it good and order and reorder relationships to reflect his creative activity? Our fundamental vocation is to uphold and improve creation, ever maintaining proper equilibrium? What enormous dignity! What enormous responsibility and opportunity for empowerment! But hold on. The Book warns about a tree of the knowledge of good and evil, about the true ways of human freedom. We can
smother inner beauty with pride and self-centeredness to be a source of disharmony with the outer world…? The world is deteriorating in our care.
I then turn to the Eucharist in the Tabernacle. So how does what Tanis received relate to all this? Thoughts abound, as I search through the treasure of Catholic Tradition. In the Eucharist we meet the Risen Messenger of the Gospels. But astonishingly he predates the existence of creation itself. He is the one through whom the world came to be and through whom it will develop to completion. This is mind boggling--the One through whom creation happens in all its stages became brother in the flesh. He became earthly Messenger when he took flesh, throwing his lot in with us, even to death upon a cross. And at no point has he stood on the sidelines just watching the natural world go by; he is and has been at work in it in a hidden way. On the other hand, in respecting the autonomy of each thing, he does not impose himself to take it over, nor will he act in you or me without our active willingness.
But we put to death the Person through whom we can come into our fullness, to have life and have it to the full…? Something has gone terribly wrong…
Above and to the right of the Tabernacle hangs a wooden Cross. It shows a body with arms and hands nailed open. This is stunning and impacting vulnerability working to draw observers in, so they might place all their own pain, emotional, psychological and physical, in his—thus they can have someone accompanying them in their own suffering. But even more radically, the words “Father, forgive them…” spoken from the Cross, is merciful invitation to hand over our self-centeredness and violence, greed and compulsivity.
One must pause for a moment to consider the drama of the moment. If by surrendering my own ‘messed-up-ness’, putting every last bit of it in these hands, thereby breaking the power of fear and establishing inner peace, then the liberated can become the liberator, the reconciled the reconciler. Here then lies possibility for change in the midst of worldly distortion.
The Eucharist is the food that makes us one with such a Savior. In this new freedom and in the light of the Resurrection, we can embrace the message streaming from the Cross—that fullness of life comes from acceptance of who we are given to be, acceptance that the way to life is through generous giving of the gift of self, and acceptance that generous giving must persist in the face of rejection, offering hope and salvation to the offender, who through it, is given a new opportunity to enter into the joy of family sharing.
I leave the small room to enter the space where followers, the Baptized who have found life in their relationship with Christ, regularly gather in sacrament and song. In their staying genuine community is shaped, a celebration of newness of life in shared joy. Oneness with the Messenger places members in that vista where they can hear the call that is inscribed in each created being whether it is human or not: ‘Receive this as gift. It is treasure from Beyond, to be received in gratitude and offered in generosity, according to its nature. This exists for relationship and the benefit of all.’ So there it is, powerful and simple—if we want to be about development we must also be about having a relationship with the Risen Messenger whose ease brings it about. And either we do development together or it won’t happen at all.
As I leave the Chapel, I make the sign of the cross recalling that ‘all love flows from the love the Father has for the Son in the Spirit.’ Love isn’t something I can manufacture out of my own resourcefulness. I pass by a cardboard figurine of Pope Francis. The figurine inaudibly poses questions to those leaving the Chapel. Where will you go now? What will you do? The caption provides a ready answer, “the place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the deep hunger of the world meet. I am now ready to enter station #4.