Friday, October 19, 2012

Cramming Catholicism

This week my daughter had to do some sketches for a theology class.  She was charged with crafting images that would capture the symbolic meaning of the sacraments in a new way.   "But what if I think the sacraments themselves capture everything they are without embellishment?" she asked.

While she could argue the danger of trivialization via simplistic or saccharine metaphors for the sacred, I still just smiled and said, "Yes, but then artists would be out of work."  She had the grace to laugh.  

But the reality remained, she felt stymied and stumped by the task. 

That morning, I'd overheard a snatch of a lecture on Pope Benedict and his writings.  My mom had given me Benedictus and I'd recently taken to reading the daily meditation.  However the book tended to wander from room to room with the business of our household and thus often weeks were lost in the process.  It remained an organic habit rather than a daily ritual.  I happened upon the book.  Opening to the date, the reflection was on Ezekiel and the creation of a truly human heart from our hearts of stone, and how Baptism in effect resulted in a spiritual heart transplant. 

I called my daughter and read the passage. 
She immediately got it and set to work with the final comment, "This is another example of God cheating Mom." 

God cheats she said.

He doesn't have to play fair, He's God.   He can forgive 70 times 7, He can pay the last workers in the vineyard the same as the first.  He can shine on the just and the unjust.  

God cheats with 1000 whispers to our heart every day of how He loves us, pointing out what He hopes we will see. 

My daughter came back with the first painting, the Sacrament of Baptism.  A font of water trickled over a heart of stone, turning whatever bathed in it into a human heart.  We talked a bit about how it could be better rendered, but the thought was there. 

God doesn't cheat.  He just knows we're not very good at studying for the test and likes to hold impromptu review sessions.

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