On June 11th of this month a strange thing happened in Astoria. 700 people walked through the streets of Astoria singing hymns and holding aloft a statue of a young girl who lived 2000 years ago. There were over fifty posters proclaiming different titles by which she is known all over the world. It looked like a giant demonstration and in a sense it was. The people of the parish dedicated to this young girl under the title of Immaculate Conception was demonstrating their belief in her and most especially in her Son who was executed by the lawful authorities of that time for sedition. To the unknowing eye, this seemed to be something crazy! In a worldly sense that is.
But when seen from a supernatural sense, it all made sense. Many had gone to confession or hoped to soon. They had received the Body and Blood of the Lord in Holy Communion and now were to enter the Porta Misericordia: the Door of Mercy, to pray for the Pope and the needs of the Church before the Blessed Sacrament that they had just shared in Eucharist.
An atheist’s head would be swimming!
Let’s face it. Because of our faith we see life differently. It is not just the material we see but the spiritual at the heart of things; the supernatural in the natural.
Once we recognize the difference that this makes and the advantage that this confers we can perceive all of life in a radically deeper way. This new way of seeing cannot be explained and is almost impossible to describe to anyone who has never experienced it. In an extreme form, the saints and mystics have tried to use poetry to help the non-initiated to get something of an insight concerning this new way of seeing.
After experiencing a powerful retreat like the Cursillo, those who participated in it say that up to now they had seen life in Black and White. Now they see it in color. They even have a song entitled “De Colores” to describe this new way of seeing. But how do you explain colors to someone who has only seen things in black and white?
One of the saddest things that I have seen in my 39 years as a Priest is the fact that many people do not know what they are missing in not pursuing the spiritual realities of life. All the created world in all its splendor, all the activities and experiences of natural goods in life do not hold a candle to the power and majesty and beauty and splendor of God and the workings of the spiritual. Saints have left the goods of this world to seek out and discover in the adventures of the Spirit these higher things that put the created world to shame. Why else voluntarily choose a life of poverty, chastity and obedience if one did not see that one was choosing the more beautiful over the lesser? But most people are blind to this.
Parents come to baptize their children. They are somewhat aware that they are doing a holy thing for their children. But few see that the moral and spiritual education of their children must come first if they are to grow into the fullness of created glory. It is not about success in this life, health etc. and all the good things of this life, but it is the added, supernatural levels to which their children are called that will give them the greatest happiness and fulfillment. It is so sad when parents don’t see the main point of baptism and the real responsibility that they are incurring by renewing the vows of their own baptism for the good of their children.
This spiritual way of seeing is a great grace. It is filled with great joy because we see all that the Scriptures speak about, actually occurring in the very midst of our lives. Our experiences themselves take on eternal meanings such that we see that everything in our lives matters and even the smallest details come from God and lead to God. This explosion of meaning in our lives brings with it a peace and a contentment that none of the pleasures of this life can remotely touch. It is a peace and joy that no one can take from us because it comes from God.