Prominent at Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Hanceville, Alabama, is the Child Jesus holding His heart out to those entering into the temple. Being small in stature as a Child, He doesn’t want to be unseen among all that is “seen and unseen,” and so it seems that He’s jumped up on a high pillar, eager to let us know of His love for us. That’s Extreme Sport Jesus.
However, when His priests, eager to be like Jesus in all things, go on retreat at “The Barn” just a stone’s throw away (if one has a good throwing arm), they are gently reminded by those with a more highly developed sense of decorum than any merely human priest is likely to have, that not all manner of extreme sports is always acceptable in every place at every time. Thus, take a close look at the welcome sign that is personalized for those are arriving.
Notice the invitation to the priests to get to their rooms by way of the stairs or the elevator. All the rooms are on the second floor of the building. This invitation is apparently necessary because otherwise the priests would be leaping up to and crashing through the windows of their rooms in the same way the Child Jesus leaped up on the pillar as pictured above. Ha ha ha.
The thing is, Jesus was known at other times to be lifted up high, whether to the pinnacle of the Temple by Satan or to the heights of the cross because of our sins. We ourselves witness the latter when we attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Last Supper united with Calvary by the twofold wedding vows of Jesus with His Bride, the Church: This is my body given for you in sacrifice, my blood poured out for you in sacrifice…
The thing is, Jesus’ priests daily act in Persona Christi (in the very Person of Christ) in reciting those vows, those consecrations, in the first person singular: my body… my blood… And thus they at least should themselves be temples of the Holy Spirit, their bodies living sacrifices, they crucified to the world, to themselves, living only for the Lord, the Most High.
That purity of soul, that agility of spirit has nothing whatsoever to do with them, but is entirely the work of the goodness and kindness of Jesus. They are not holy of themselves, but Jesus is. They of themselves are not good and kind, but Jesus is. And yet, both Jesus and His priests are of necessity with such cooperation and teamwork, expert in such extreme sport if you will, of leaping up to the very heights where all are drawn to Jesus (see John 12:32).
But more than this, Jesus shows His extreme sport enthusiasm right to the end, when, at the end of His earthly sojourn He ascends to the heavens. Instead of being so tempted to be separated from Jesus by watching His goodness and kindness and truth in action even quite apart from ourselves before His ascension into heaven, we are now bidden because of His ascension to live ourselves His goodness and kindness and truth, being built in this way into the many dwelling places of the Most High, creation itself being set on fire with the fiery love of the Holy Spirit by way of our being formed now more and more into the very image of Jesus, He the Head, we the members of the body, the Father loving us as He loves Jesus, the same act of love of the Father, simultaneous. The Father’s love for Jesus is the Father’s love for us, no before or after, the same love. How much the Father loves us: the Heart that the Child Jesus holds out to us is the very Heart of the Father.
P.S. I finally got back to the parish in Western North Carolina. I will miss The Barn and those who carry out their apostolate there.