Wednesday, December 7, 2011


"We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn."
Matthew 11:17

How well Christ knew human nature. 

We refuse to be consoled, and then we accuse religion of giving easy answers. How anyone can regard Christ nailed to the cross above the altar of every Catholic church in the world and get either “easy” or “answer” out of it is beyond me. Then, as soon as you say, “There is no easy way; there are no 'answers',” people complain, “You’re all about suffering and sickness and darkness; we want o sleep our way around the world, meditate for a night in a cave, meet the guy of our dreams, live happily ever after, and write a best-selling book about 'spirituality.'"

"Spirituality" is Fr. Alfred Delp, imprisoned by the Nazis, and giving thanks because the shackle on one hand is loose enough so that he can still write. Sprituality is Fr. Delp as the Nazis are beating him and calling him 'Liar!' because he won't give up the names of his friends, asking God why he has to be subjected to such treatment and at the same time reflecting that in fact he does have a tendency to lie (as we all do).

You can’t have it both ways. You can’t both insist on no easy answers and then be pissed because there are no easy answers. You can’t be satisfied with a miraculous, happy ending for yourself and not give your whole life to ensuring a happy ending for everyone else.

By happy, I don't mean free from pain. Was Christ “happy?” I sometimes wonder. Nietzsche said that Christ never laughed, but I refuse to believe that the Son of Man didn't frequently crack up at a good black humor joke.

You have to have no answers and also be in joy.  You have to be ready to dance when your heart is hemorrhaging; and you have to be ready to sing a dirge when things--for ONCE!--are going okay for you, and every last one of your friends is in crisis. To hold the tension between the light and the darkness; pain and joy; life that we love so much and the fact that we all must die is the intersection of the cross.

As Caryll Houselander wrote in Guilt: "The great repression of our age is the repression of Christ in man."



  1. You have summed up what has been in my heart for some weeks now, Heather. Thank you.

  2. David DeAtkine, Jr., MDDecember 7, 2011 at 7:41 AM

    I second your comments about "Eat, Pray, Love" spirituality -- I find it nearly nauseating to should have just been titled "Amazing Me", and could be the anthem for what passes as spirituality in Hollywood -- when it is really only narcissism.

    One of the most interesting transitions I found in moving from my hereditary Protestantism (and God Bless my parents for instilling the fear and love of God into me)was the understanding of suffering... my wonderful Anglican church recognized that suffering existed, but generally took a post-mortem attitude about it; that is, they were very good about picking up the pieces afterwards, and ministering in love. But the Catholic Church EMBRACES suffering. The Catholic Church almost thrives on it-- and it is a good thing because there is so much suffering to thrive on!

    I find it very inspiring to read the stories of St Francis or Padre Pio, who, because of their insane love for Christ suffered along side of Him and carried His wounds. Frederich Buechner once wrote (and I paraphrase) -- "and when someone we loves suffers we suffer with him; and we would not want it any other way." I think this is why those closest to Christ seem to suffer so much, simply because of love.

  3. This is so wonderful, Heather. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  4. Wonderfully, perfectly said. I'll be printing this out to share with my friends who don't venture on line. Have a blessed Advent, Heather.

  5. You are doing so good...very, very, thank you for opening up your from Croat in Ireland!

  6. Dear heather
    "What about the people no-one prays for: they die?"
    Once I was visiting a friend in a burn ward: the place was full of VERY severe cases; extremely dramatic stuff. One of the nurses there, a secular Jew, said to me; "In this ward, the patients who have people coming and praying for them with them can make it. the ones who do not have people come and pray, don't." Just thought that I would pass this on.

    on a brighter note, your application of Jesus' observation is wonderful. It reminds me of what Chesterton said:"It is not that Christianity has been tried and found wanting. It is that it has been tried and found difficult." For me, that difficulty of suffering is mostly on the outside looking in. It seems impossible to embrace or even live with suffering. When we are sharing it with Christ, what seems impossible is to be without him. And as dramatic as the suffering is, what becomes the center is him. and somehow, there is something inside that is grateful to have been opened to such a treasure.

  7. Thanks so much, Fr. Vincent--exactly. The people for whom no-one prays, whom no-one loves, DO die. Prayer does "work," which is why we have an obligation to pray not just for ourselves and/or own family and friends, but everybody...

    Funny you should mention Chesterton: his biography of St. Francis went far toward my conversion but up till last week, I had never read entranced, inspired, stimulated, and challenged...

    Blessings to you always, and to all in the Holy Land...and as always, thanks...

  8. Does this site have a page on Facebook?

  9. I think it does though I didn't start it and don't check it. I have a FB page myself, heatherking.writer.

  10. Wow! Thanks for sharing yourself so deeply, Heather.


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