Many years ago, when I was a new Catholic or about to become one, I was impressed one day in prayer with this series of words: taken, blessed, broken, given. To Catholics it is somewhat obvious that these words have strong Eucharistic overtones. I was really new to Eucharistic spirituality at the time. Yet I understood that God meant these words to somehow apply to my life. As I meditated on them, I could readily identify how God had "taken" me: He had intervened in my life, He had called me, He had claimed me as His own. I could see that. I could also see how God had blessed me. I saw His favor poured out on me in many ways, through friends and material blessings, favorable circumstances, and His faithful, providential care that all didn't have to be that way. I also was quite aware of being broken. In fact, that's what I was most aware of at the time. Now I would phrase it that I was becoming aware of my need for God. Some of that had to do with trusting in Him more than in the blessings He'd given me. I was in a transition time: leaving the church where I felt secure and going to where He called. It was a time where trust was all I had to go on. God was still faithful, but it was scarier than I was used to.
I remember telling this to my spiritual director. My sense was that I had been taken, blessed, and broken, but I couldn't bear to just stop there. The dynamism of the whole thing pointed to the last word... given. What I didn't know, though, was what that exactly meant. I mean, I knew what the word meant, and I knew it meant that what God did in me would go out from me to others. But I didn't know that I knew that I knew what it was from experience. In fact, I knew I didn't know from experience.
Today, the whole thing became clear and simple. I think this is how God converses with us (me, at least): suddenly, it all becomes simple. It is the feast of Corpus Christi, The Body and Blood of Christ. It was our last choir Mass of the season (I can't stand it when people say "year" when it is June and we'll sing again in three months. We are not in school!) At some point during the Mass, can't even say when it happened, I realized that I knew what it is to be "given" in this Eucharistic sense, and therefore, what all the rest means and is for as well: it means simply to love. I am taken up by God's love, I am blessed by God's love, yes I am broken by God's love so that I can be given in God's love to someone else, as love -- as God's love, to restart the cycle in them. And I know that I know that I know this from experience.
Simple, but profound.
As if to solidify this thought in my mind, a friend of mine posted this article on Facebook: A Requiem for Friendship. It is a bit long and circuitous, but it discusses how the cultural acceptance of open expression of homosexuality among men has caused boys problems when it comes to forming or expressing ardent bonds of friendship among themselves. The point can be expanded to embrace friendship-love in any context, and I would contend that it isn't necessarily only homosexuality but the sexualization of society in general which causes us problems. And, I contend, in Christian culture, we sometimes get this reactionary "luv" about which there is nothing human nor ardent nor Christlike. Everyone luvs each other. But my question is, will you die for me? Will you suffer for me? If not, keep your luv, and buy a puppy or some other object that makes you feel happy now and then.
The love God calls us to is not about enjoyment or happy feelings. It's not about eroticism either. It is about expressing an ardent desire for the other to know the fullness of God's gift, and going to the point of my willingness to sacrifice, to suffer, to die to make it so. Not so that I can admire what a great martyr I am, but given, freely.
Just as Christ gives Himself to me.