Pen Pals and Brides
In class today, the teacher, Mrs. D, made a comparison that I'd never thought of before. God communicates to us like the old pen pals did. Back in the time of the World Wars, many people wrote long letters to each other, and they fell in love even across the sea. Through these letters, they poured their hearts out and decided that, yes, they were willing to spend their lives together based solely on this interaction. They never met each other, they didn't have several friends in common who could vouch for them, they accepted the words on the pages, and they married.
In many ways, that is how God communicates with us. He gives us glimpses of himself, most especially in the Scriptures and creation. He writes His love for us through the pages and trees. These letters tell us who He is, give us little anecdotes to see His personality, and tell us how serious He is about our relationship. He pours His Heart out upon these pages, begging us to recognize this love and sincerity. And they are written to each and every one of us, personally. For one, He opens the wings of the butterfly; for another, He speckles a dog with spots; for another, He pens poetic words of love; for another, He writes His rules and why they are important; and for another, He shows His Passion and Resurrection. And we can write back. Some of us literally write in our journals; others compose letters with our hands, bodies, and thoughts as we live out our days, and others speak the words that comprise our letters or let our hearts lift wordless replies.
We have one of the most beautiful chances to build a relationship - a personal relationship - here, on earth, through these letters. No, we will not be able to understand fully, but we will have a lifetime and beyond to get to learn all the personality quirks, to discover the depth and breadth of His love, and to hear all the stories His friends can tell. We will get to build on the relationship we build here, through these letters.
But I think I would cry if this was all I had. Actually, I know I would.
A while ago, I posted a quote on facebook by Fr. William Casey that sums up why: "Every time I hear a televangelist emphasize a personal relationship with Christ, I thank God that I'm Catholic. For only here can I receive the Lord - body, blood, soul, and divinity. It doesn't get much more personal than that." A friend of mine asked me what I meant by that, and I fear I botched the explanation, so I shall try again.
The personal relationship talked about by the televangelist is that of the Pen Pals - it is beautiful, personal, even intimate. It is a sharing of self and a learning of God. It truly is a relationship. But it just isn't the same as actually meeting the person, having Him hold you close, feeling Him around you all the time. Granted, the Holy Spirit helps bridge this gap some, but nothing on earth - not even the union of man and woman - can compare to the unity that I can experience with my Jesus as I approach the altar for Communion with Him.
Danielle Rose has a beautiful song that could be used for a woman entering a convent, but the first part of it can also be used, I believe, as a beautiful explanation of Communion. We are the Bride of Christ. And yes, we must wait to see the full Glory of God, and so, until that day, we are veiled. We await the unveiling - the revelation, the apocalypse - when we can truly gaze into the eyes of our Lord and see Him.
But he does not leave us standing alone at the altar. He stands with us. He told his Apostles that He would return soon, they did not understand, but He returned. He returns as the Daily Bread that He told us we must pray for. He returns as the Bread that falls daily for our sustenance as He foretold in John. He returns, by the power of the Spirit, from the Bosom of His Father, and He waits for His Bride to come to Him, He calls her to Him (Rev 19:7-9). He brings Heaven to earth as He did 2000 years ago and as He continues to do, making the Will of the Father, present in Heaven, also present on earth, as He taught us to pray. He calls us to the Wedding Feast, to the union with Him.
This is where we follow in Mary's footsteps and accept the Gift of the Spirit which grants us the Body of Christ in us. We look at the gift, and with human senses are confused, and we asked, "How can this be?" The response is the same as Gabriel's to her: "All things are possible with God." We, with humility, must bow and admit our unworthiness but our desire to be His handmaid (or whatever the male equivalent is). The Spirit brings us, from the Bosom of our Lord, Jesus, fully present as He was at that first Communion when the Holy Spirit took Mary as His Spouse and conceived in her the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He returns, remaining with us until the end of the age. And he veils Himself, hiding away His Glory so that we can approach Him. He humbles Himself, much as He did when he did when He came to earth. The early church saw doctrine as an extension of the incarnation, and the only ones who abstained were those who had yet to be baptized and catechized or those who did not believe in the incarnation. He does not die again, He does not "re-enter" earth in glory as He will on the second coming. We do not rewed Christ each day, and we will not re-wed Him when we get to Heaven. This is a foretaste, a glimpse through the veil necessary because of our fallen nature.
One day, we will get to see God face to face, with no veils, all Revealed. But until that day, I can still approach every day and have My Jesus come to me. He does not just write me letters, He comes, sits with me, joins Himself to me, and fashions me not just into His family but into His Body. He gives me His Heart and Blood, He takes me and begins to break me down so I become more like Him. He clothes me in white so that I may join Him unveiled one day.
Yes, I believe there will be many Pen Pals in Heaven sitting with me, gazing upon the same beautiful face of God. But I would not trade away one second with Him here and now. Having been invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb, having had Him offer me His Heart and meld mine to His, having experienced that intimacy.... I could never go back. The letters are beautiful, they are reminders when I cannot gaze at the face of my Lord through the veil before my eyes, they teach me more about Him, and they are a scrapbook of sorts for me to see and learn about Him. But they are not all I have to be content with.