Archived Letters from Interim Director Fr. Howell, SJ

Practice Resurrection

Posted by Pat Howell, SJ on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 at 11:23 AM PDT

For Christians the Lenten journey continues and culminates with the Pascal Mystery. The death and resurrection of Jesus is a mystery so dense that it takes time, days and months and years, to ponder and embrace. From a human standing, it contradicts all the evidence. In the Gospel parables Jesus invites us into this mystery by proposing stories that contradict human assumptions and biases—such as the “good” Samaritan (who was considered the outsider, the stranger, even the enemy) or the one hired at the 11th hour who receives a full days’ wages.

Wendell Berry captures this ironic and contradictory character of the spiritual journey in his poem, Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front:

Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts... 

Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Such apparent foolishness gets us back on track. Pondering the whole trajectory of life: we laugh. Our daily frets, anxieties, and concerns are small potatoes sub specie aeternitatis (under the aspect of eternity). Laughter grounds us in our humanity, connects us directly with the body. And since the resurrection of Jesus is not just a Platonic release of the soul, but rather the transformation of our whole unique person—body and soul—human laughter and joy and practicing resurrection connects us intimately with the Body of Christ Resurrected.

This last quarter ICTC has spent considerable time addressing the crisis of the church precipitated by the sexual abuse by clergy of minors and vulnerable adults. We have felt the pain and the wounds of the abused and the scandal to the people of God. At a more profound level, you might say we have been tending to the wounds of the Body of Christ.  All these movements and discussions and silent prayers have been aspects of practicing resurrection.  They stop the flow of taking things for granted or shirking the of and the scandal. We make a silent, heart-felt prayer for mercy, forgiveness, and healing.

I invite you to be joyful though you have considered all the facts,

Patrick Howell, S.J., interim director
Institute for Catholic Thought and Culture