Saturday, February 15, 2014


I became entranced the other night
with this tree overhanging the alley behind my gym....

Part 2 of Fr. Pat McNulty's I Live Now, Not I
(For Part I, click here).

Fr. McNulty is all about union with Christ.

"There is no way to life except through death and re-birth....[and] the death that leads to resurrection is not just a death, but a sacrificial death, a death turned into an act of love and self-giving. You have your pain and sorrow, your anxieties, your personal problems, your moral lapses, perhaps your loss of faith...It may be a moral abyss from which you feel yourself wholly impotent to escape; it may be a sense of utter blankness; a loss of the faith that once explained life and made it happy...Refuse to despair, and on the contrary...put your very dereliction itself into his hands...turn these into the sign of Jonas the prophet, use these to lead you down into the darkness, take these to the altar of love and tumble them into his hands and ask him to deal with them, like a little child taking a worthless piece of treasure trove as a gift to its mother. And not your own sorrows and your own sins merely, but the sorrows and sins of the world: you who should be so powerful to heal them in the Light of Love and who in fact are so powerless to do anything, take these too and give them to him, make these too an act of sacrificial love, suffering for them yourself in union wit his sorrow; and so, having seen to the very depths of your own ineffectiveness, you will cease to be ineffective. You will begin to live, now not you, but Christ living in you...

The secret is our union with the Son of God, in the flesh, as we are now! Not how we could be or should be--that comes later--but how we are now! Saints or sinners"...

For those to whom human interaction comes easily, the following passage won't apply. Personally, however, I have spent a good part of my life trying to figure out how to manage and control the people around me so I will not simply die at any given moment from hurt, rage, humiliation, and/or fear.

So to me this is fascinating.

Here he is talking about devotion to the Sacred Heart, which he used to find corny (I'm paraphrasing). Then in his dark night of the soul, he saw, Oh! Christ's heart is what it is ALL about.

"As I focussed [sic] on union with Christ Who truly has a Heart what I began to see was that the union happens by way of a mutual experience in Christ, namely, our mutual condition; my pain is their pain [i.e. the pain of every human being in the world who is suffering] is His pain. We are one in Christ! For me that was not about being a victim but about some new sense of union which I now call 'sacrificial-soul' to distinguish it from the spirituality of victim-soul. Sacrificial-soul spirituality focuses on the mystery of being one with Christ and each other, through our mutual human condition, now. And this mutual human condition now is the primary source of the personal relationship we have with Jesus through Baptism.

The first clear sense I had of this change of emphasis in my relationship with Christ, this sacrificial-soul union vs. victim-soul was in that experience I already shared when I 'imagined' Him telling me that He had been the one being abused [when Fr. McNulty was a child] and had actually invited me to be one with Him...

By now on the journey I knew pretty clearly I had three levels of pain that I was dealing with in my life, in my flesh, three levels of the human condition if you will. Number one was the condition of the world, the pain of the world over which I had no immediate control. Secondly was the pain others caused me, knowingly or not, past or present. And finally the pain I caused myself and everyone else around me because of my own wounds or sins."

Here's what slayed me:

"What about that pain which comes upon me through others during the day, or through past memories of similar pain, just or unjust? Well, if Christ is the focus, then everything is about Him and me and not about me and them! Whatever happens now happens because He wants to draw me into Himself and not teach me how to clear up my own emotional life or interpersonal relationship with you! That comes later.

How does He draw me? Through my humanity as it is now! This is not a 'what would Jesus do' spirituality. This is about union now in Christ through our human condition. We must not ask, 'What would Jesus do?' but rather, 'Jesus, you experienced something like this in your own life--for different reasons than mine--so what kind of union with You are You calling me to right now through my humanity? What are You trying to teach me about You and Your relationship with Your Father right now in and through my flesh?

If such spirituality is to be at the center of our emotional life, we have to let go of all those normal questions like, 'why did they do that to me?' or 'how should I deal with them?' or 'how can I create my own boundaries when I am around them?' or whatever else. No! If the focus is Christ than sooner or later the only question which will bring us life is: 'Lord Jesus what are You trying to show me about Your relationship to the Father through this event, in my flesh, now?' Period. If we can't put a period after that question and let all the other questions go for the time being then we need to go back to the solitude by whatever means until there are no more questions but that one: 'What are you trying to teach me, now?' Because what we are really asking Christ is: 'How can my heart become 'sacred,' secure in Your heart now, in the flesh."

I think the good Father is on to something.

I'll close with this. One night in solitude he, Fr. McNulty had already "heard" these "awesome words": "It was not you who was being abused...It was Me."


  1. Yes, that's very helpful as I try to cope after 13 years with the pain of the suicide of my wife, (after she was abused as a child ). Her pain was not just her own and my pain now is not just my own . It is all the pain of all those victims of suicide . And so yes "it was not you that was being abused it was Me!". That takes some of the terrible pain away .

  2. I struggle with letting go of that WWJD spirituality. I feel useless otherwise. If it's all Jesus healing me, then I don't understand my purpose, like I'm not holding up my end of the deal or contributing.

  3. I also wonder why many believers today, including myself, appear so weak and wounded. In the past, there were, it seems, many saints who were strong, big souls: healing others, doing miraculous things. But what of us today? Why has that shift occurred?

  4. I don't know if it is because I am growing or eyes were open, but I just love the line when Fr. said, "Well, if Christ is the focus, then everything is about Him and me and not about me and them!". Wow, I feel so much better knowing I am moving ahead because it is Him and I. And, all will be will be well if He is my focus in all things. St. Therese had the right idea-- all for Him, and it will show for others to see.


I WELCOME your comments!!!