Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Quote of the Day

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

We are already in the heart of the summer, at least in the northern hemisphere. This is the time in which the schools are closed and in which most vacations are concentrated. Even the pastoral activities of the parishes are reduced, and I myself have suspended audiences for a period. It is therefore a favorable moment to give first place to what is effectively the most important thing in life, that is to say, listening to the Word of God. This Sunday's Gospel always reminds us of this with the celebrated episode of Jesus' visit to the house of Martha and Mary narrated by St. Luke (10:38-42).

Martha and Mary are two sisters; they also have a brother, Lazarus, who, however, does not appear in this case. Jesus passes through their village and -- the text says -- Martha welcomes him (cf. 10:38). This detail gives one to understand that, of the two sisters, Martha is the oldest, the one who rules the house. In fact, after Jesus is accommodated, Mary sits at his feet and listens to him, while Martha is completely absorbed with much serving, which is certainly due to the exceptional guest. We seem to see the scene: One sister is very busy and the other is enraptured by the presence of the Master and his words. After a while Martha, evidently resentful, no longer resists and protests, also feeling that she has the right to criticize Jesus: "Lord, does it not matter to you that my sister has left me to do all the serving? Tell her, therefore, to help me." Indeed, Martha would like to teach the Master! But Jesus, with great calm, answers: "Martha, Martha" -- and this name repeated expresses affection -- "you are anxious and worried about many things, but there is only one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her" (Luke 10:41-42). Christ's word is quite clear: no scorn for the active life, nor much less for the generous hospitality; but a plain reminder of the fact that the one thing that is truly necessary is something else: listening to the Word of the Lord; and the Lord is there in that moment, present in the person of Jesus! Everything else will pass and will be taken away from us, but the Word of God is eternal and gives meaning to our daily activity.

Dear Friends, as I said, this Gospel passage is very important at vacation time, because it recalls the fact that the human person must work, must involve himself in domestic and professional concerns, to be sure, but he has need of God before all else, who is the interior light of love and truth. Without love, even the most important activities lose value and do not bring joy. Without a profound meaning, everything we do is reduced to sterile and disordered activism. And who gives us love and truth if not Jesus Christ? So let us learn, brothers and sisters, to help each other, to work together, but first of all to choose together the better part, which is and will always be our greater good.
Castel Gandolfo, 18 July 2010

To everyone who's asked, just know that everything's fine... and, seriously, thanks for your kindness.

Apologies for being relatively allergic to the machine of late, but the breathing room -- and, even for the torrid humidity 'round these parts, the July sun -- has been a tremendous, and tremendously needed, gift.

As some of you might be asking "What's doing back there?" suffice it to say -- well, as a reader kindly put it -- "you've been under terrific pressure lately, and maybe it's inhuman."

To be sure, your narrator normally wouldn't cop to the strain, but candidly, it's there, gang -- over these days, the demands and stress that come with producing this work (to say nothing of keeping atop the notes... and, above all, keeping the shop afloat) have begun to catch up with me, and high on the listening-list is seeking a way to make things more manageable, less exhausting and, in more ways than one, better-budgeted for the road ahead. Unfortunately, being less omniscient than know-nothing, that's something that can only be figured out with a healthy dose of time and space. (That said, as no less than the Grey Lady recently noted the toll the news-cycle can take in this crazed age, we can only reasonably conclude that The Times has gone anti-Whispers.)

For the even more curious, last week this scribe spent days doing one of those things that can't even be thought of the rest of the year -- a good, thorough room-clean.

Seven 40-gallon, 3-mil trash bags later, the place is gratefully looking better than it has in memory... what's more, though, some finds along the way have added much to what's already been a pretty potent spiritual experience. So, again, thanks for your indulgence -- getting around to that was a real treat.

Above all, folks, it can't go unnoted that this Tuesday has seen quite the milestone for that number at the bottom of the page, another without precedent for a work of this sort. That just goes to underscore the degree to which, day in and day out, these pages are far more yours than they're mine; each in our own way, whatever's happened here these last almost six years has been, in the truest and best sense, the work of The Church, and no words can say sufficient thanks to all of you who've been a part of it... especially because God knows how none of this could ever have happened, nor been this good and fun, alone.

Still, as there are no better days than these to hear the most important whispers of all, I need to use 'em for everything they're worth. As you know, late next week'll see a certain high-profile ordination in Jersey... and as the expected delegations from DC, New York and even Hollywood will be joined by one from a certain basement in Pharaohville, you can expect things to be well-revved by then.

God love you lot forever and, even more than usual, your prayers, please, as you're always and everywhere in mine.

Hope your summer's being everything you and yours have wished and waited for. More soon, but in the meanwhile, Happy Listening... and may we all be ever more richly blessed with finding the "better part."