Monday, December 22, 2014

The only cure for human loneliness

Ernst-Barlach_Russische-Bettlerin
I had long been haunted by the Russian conception of the humiliated Christ, the lame Christ limping through Russian, begging His bread; the Christ who, all through the ages, might return to the earth and come even to sinners to win their compassion by His need.  Now, in the flash of a second, I knew that this dream is a fact; not a dream, not the fantasy or legend of devout people, not the prerogative of the Russians, but Christ in man.  Christ in His perfect human nature, Christ in His risen glory and Christ in His need and His suffering on earth, are reconciled.  We have the whole Christ.

Although this did not prevent me from ever sinning again, it showed me what sin is, especially those sins done in the name of "love," so often held to be "harmless" - for to sin with one whom you loved was to blaspheme Christ in that person; it was to spit on Him, perhaps to crucify Him.  I saw too the reverence that everyone must have for a sinner; instead of condoning his sin, which is in reality his utmost sorrow, one must comfort Christ who is suffering in him.  And this reverence must be paid even to those sinners whose souls seem to be dead, because it is Christ, who is the life of the soul, who is dead in them; they are His tombs, and Christ in the tomb is potentially the risen Christ.  For the same reason, no one of us who has fallen into mortal sin himself must ever lose hope.

It would be impossible to set down here all the implications of this vision of Christ in man; it altered the course of my life completely, and in a sense took away my difficulty about the Blessed Sacrament's being put into the hand of sinners.  I saw that it is the will of Christ's love to be put into the hands of sinners, to trust Himself to men, that He may be their gift to one another, that they may comfort Him in each other, give Him to each other.  In this sense the ordinary life itself becomes sacramental, and every action of anyone at all has an eternal meaning.

I knew too that since Christ is One in all men, as He is One in countless Hosts, everyone is included in Him; there can be no outcasts, no excommunicates, excepting those who excommunicate themselves - and they too may be saved, Christ rising from death in them.

Christ is everywhere; in Him every kind of life has a meaning and has an influence on every other kind of life.  It is not the foolish sinner like myself, running about the world with reprobates and feeling magnanimous, who comes closest to them and brings them healing; it is the contemplative in her cell who has never set eyes on them, but in whom Christ fasts and prays for them - or it may be a charwoman in whom Christ makes Himself a servant again, or a king whose crown of gold hides a crown of thorns.  Realization of our oneness in Christ is the only cure for human loneliness.  For me, too, it is the only ultimate meaning of life, the only thing that gives means and purpose to every life.

For me, the greatest joy is the ever-growing reassurance that Christ and His Church are one and that because Christ and His Church are one, the world's sorrow, with which I have always been obsessed, is only the shadow cast by the spread arms of the crucified King to shelter us until the morning of resurrection from the blaze of everlasting love.
 
Caryll Houselander