Washed in Beauty

Washed in Beauty

Pope Francis has asked each of us to take our mission seriously.  Since we have been baptized, he reasons, then we are sent out to all the others. But what does that mean? Have I yet claimed my Baptism?  That something life-changing has happened to me, so BIG that I can’t contain it and need and want to go tell it on the mountain? 

Our friend since 1977, Fr. Bob Cannon, a canon lawyer as well as military chaplain, is with us visiting and retreating and helping us dream about celebrating our 25th anniversary at Holy Hill.  In his Sunday homily he reminded us as the Carmelite Community of Apostolic Hermits of our mission at Holy Hill.  All we do is live with God, most often alone, and then we share that experience with all who come here.  We are to disclose to them the non-judgmental love that has brushed off on us.  It’s so simple.

What is being presumed by Pope Francis and Fr. Bob is that we all have interiorized our Baptism to such an extent that we can’t help but manifest it.

Maybe it’s about a different way of seeing beauty. Maybe we are attracted by a quality of beauty that is rare. Here I quote Gil Bailie from his magnum opus, God’s Gamble: The Gravitational Power of Crucified Love.

“Balthasar argues…[that Jesus’s]… wretched, scourged, mutilated and lifeless body radiated such an overwhelming icon of moral beauty that it shattered the existing aesthetic, the epitome of which in the Greco-Roman world was the Apollonian male body”.  Then Bailie quotes Joseph Ratzinger to say, “Yet precisely in this Face that is so disfigured, there appears the genuine, the ultimate beauty: the beauty of love that goes ‘to the very end’.”

We who are baptized have looked on the body of him whom we have pierced and recognized that this very annihilated body is purifying our own disposition toward life. Now we can find beauty where once there was squalor.  We can see with new eyes the degree of love blasted onto the soul of one who could be temporarily unattractive.

How can we tell that we’ve claimed our Baptism?  How can we become pure of heart enough that we’d have something extra to give away?  Self-knowledge and conversion need to be ongoing for every one of us as we interiorize our Baptism, remembering and being astounded that we already have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. Repenting and starting over, communing with that Lamb.   Being washed in the blood of the Lamb again and again. Washed in beauty. Bathed in beauty I will run, and You in me and with me.

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