The Escape Route from Godlessness to Paradise is a Public Highway
God built an escape route from godlessness to paradise, defined the escape route with holy places, made a map of them, established a Church, entrusted the map to the Church, and gave the Church the job of facilitating our escape - not the job of frustrating it, filtering it or fouling it up. The escape from godlessness to paradise is primary. Nothing else matters. Everything else is secondary. Anything that interferes is suspect. The holy places that define the escape route are oases of paradise set in the hostile desert of godlessness. They are the jewels in the necklace of God. The escape is the needle of the compass that always points in the direction of paradise. Only by passing from holy place to holy place that define the escape route can we be sure that we are heading in the right direction. The new exodus, served by the new Moses, the Church, is making its escape on the escape route from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh, through the hostile desert of godlessness, to freedom with God and his holy family in the promised land. We are marching hand-in-hand, arm-in-arm, together as a family, to the beat of loving heart of the Son of God. At the holy places of the escape route, close encounters with the living God take place. During a close encounter, a connection is made between heaven and earth through which the light of paradise illuminates the darkness of godlessness. No one leaves a close encounter with the living God unchanged. No one leaves a close encounter with the living God empty-handed. Close encounters with our living and loving God transform us. During the close encounters, God transforms sinners into saints.
The Holy Places that Define the Escape Route
The unity that the Church seeks will not be achieved until the Church realizes that the escape route from godlessness to paradise is a public highway, catholic in scope, open to all including sinners. God built the escape route from godlessness to paradise for everybody so everybody could experience close encounters with him as we passed through the hostile desert of godlessness from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh to freedom with God and his holy family in the promised land. The gates to the escape route must be torn down and access given to all before all will march home to paradise, hand-in-hand, arm-in-arm, together as a family, to the beat of loving heart of the Son of God. If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain (Origin of the Phrase). In less opaque words, the Church must go to the people when the people do not go to the Church.
We Broke God's Heart
On the way out, we tore open bloody wounds in the body of the Son of God. On the way back, we heal them. Calvary is the earthly manifestation of the hurt we do to God when we stop loving him and disengage from him. The bloody wounds are the exit to godlessness. The bloody wounds we opened in the body of the Son of God while he was human, alive, tender, vulnerable and our guest upon the earth are the gateway between the world of godlessness and the world of paradise (Godlessness). The new exodus led / served by the new Moses, the Church, passes through the bloody wounds as we make our escape from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh, through the hostile desert of godlessness, to freedom with God and his holy family in the promised land. He is the way, etc. (John 14:3-6). The bloody wounds are the entrance to paradise. He is the bridge between the world of godlessness and the world of paradise. The Son of God will keep his bloody wounds open for our return until the last of us has come home. Salvation passes through the bloody wounds.
Why does the Dervish Whirl?
Why does the dervish whirl? What inspires him? Why do Catholic's whirl from the Mass, to Confession and to the other holy places that the define the escape route of the new exodus that runs from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh, through the hostile desert of godlessness, to freedom with God and his holy family in the promised land? What inspires them? What turns a settler into a pilgrim? Is the Church's exclusion of women from its priesthood the inspiration? Is it the Church's efforts to hold the lid of sexual morality on the boiling cauldron of sexuality that inspires them? Is it clericalism? The Church has a problem. Fewer and fewer Christians are whirling these days (Only 25% of Us Go to Mass - Cardinal Dolan 3/10/2016). Why? The Church has become more interested in the nitty-gritty of Christianity than in the pizzazz of Christianity. The pizzazz of Christianity inspires Christian's to whirl. The nitty gritty of Christianity - not so much. We are bogged down in the nitty-gritty of Christianity. We cannot climb out of it and ascend the holy mountain (Isaiah 2:2-4) to explore the mystery, majesty and magnificence of God. The Church is failing us. It has become a cheerleader for itself and for pettiness instead of a cheerleader for God and the sublime. It is more interested in its so-called "Catholic identity" than in the identity of Jesus. It has allowed the nitty gritty of Christianity to dilute its pizzazz. The glass of Christianity has become all water and no wine - only a dash of wine is added to the glass to give the water color - it has the color of wine but with none of wine's oomph (Matthew 5:13-16). The whirl is the byproduct of the inspiration. There is no inspiration in the nitty-gritty of Christianity. No inspiration; no whirl.
Prayer is one of the holy places that define the escape route that is not under the thumb of the Church. There are others. During prayer, a close encounter with the living God takes place.
The Inexorable Escape
When the custodians of the escape route become a bottleneck to the escape, the children of Adam and Eve go around them, over them, under them and through them. After the illusions are shattered, the truth becomes visible and settlers have made the decision to become pilgrims, the new exodus marches from godlessness to paradise with or without the help of the Church.
Follow the bizarre logic of the custodians of the escape route from godlessness to paradise. At the holy places that define the escape route, close encounters with our loving God take place. During a close encounter, a connection is made between heaven and earth and through the connection the light of paradise illuminates the darkness of godlessness. The experience transforms sinners into saints. Yet, the custodians bar unworthy sinners from the holy places thereby preventing them from a close encounter. Only God transforms us from sinner into saint. The custodians cannot. We cannot transform ourselves. Yet, the custodians deny sinners the opportunity for transformation.
Something Worse than Suffering - the Loss of Love
Christianity is a religion whose foundation is the fact that there is something worse than the crosses of suffering to which we are nailed during our exile in godlessness. Worse is letting the sharp edge of suffering poke a hole in our hearts and drain them of love. The chief recommendation of Christianity, therefore, is that we keep our hearts filled to the brim with love. We can do this because the dial that controls our love is in our own hands not in the hands of suffering. Buckets of blood spilled through the wounds we opened in the body of Christ at Calvary but not a drop - not a drop - of his love for us spilled. Likewise, we must cling to love, hold tight and not let go. This is the secret hanging in plain sight from the Cross. This is the secret that the Son of God himself demonstrated for us. Clinging to love is the only sanctuary in which we can take refuge when we are nailed to the cross of suffering and planted, like a tree, in the ground. Love enables us to pick the cross of suffering up and carry it. Love transforms us into superman. We cling to love not for the sake of those who crucify us but for our own sake. If we don't cling, the sharp edge of suffering will transform us into the most miserable and hideous of beasts. Only love prevents the transformation. Love is the yeast of divinity. It leavens us. Keeping love in our hearts makes us godlike. Our self-interest is best served when we cling to love, hold tight and refuse to let go.
To turn a sinner into a saint, first turn a settler into a pilgrim. Amongst pilgrims, morality tends to take care of itself. Amongst settlers, the wolves in each of us are off the leash.
How Do You Tell God that You Want In?
How do you tell God that you want in - that you want to participate in paradise - that you want to join his kingdom? Do you ignore him? Do you show no interest in the gift of paradise? Or do you apply? Do you need to fill out an application and submit it? You make your desire known to God by participating in the new exodus that is making its escape by passing from holy place to holy place that define the escape route through the hostile desert of godlessness from slavery under the yoke of pharaoh to freedom with God and his holy family in the promised land. You declare your interest now by having close encounters with God now at the holy places where you will learn how to comport yourself when the gift of paradise is delivered to you.
School is Hard. Lord, When is My Education Complete?
God desires knowing and doing, knowing begets doing::
1) (Knowing) As we pass through godlessness, crosses of suffering nail themselves to us. Based on horrible experience, we come to the conclusion that godlessness sucks (Knowledge through experience).
2) (Knowing) Based on revelation, we come to the conclusion that paradise is sweet (Knowledge by revelation).
3) (Doing) Rational people flee the sourness of godlessness. It is contrary to our self-interest to do otherwise. The sourness of godlessness is an engine that pushes us to its exit. It kicks us out.
4) (Doing) Rational people seek the sweetness of paradise. It is contrary to our self-interest to do otherwise. The sweetness of paradise is an engine that pulls us to its entrance. It pulls us in
5) (Doing) We do not let the sourness of godlessness plant us, like a tree, in the ground thereby stopping our progress from godlessness to paradise. Love enables us to deny ourselves, to pick up our crosses of suffering and to carry them thereby allowing our progress from godlessness to paradise to continue.
6) (Doing) We make our escape from godlessness to paradise by passing from holy place to holy place from slavery under the yoke of pharaoh, through the hostile desert of godlessness, to freedom with God and his holy family in the promised land.
When these things happen, our education is complete. God will deliver the gift of paradise to us and we will keep it.