Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Friendship in Christ...

... is something so utterly other from ordinary friendships. It doesn't depend on how marvelous I am or how entertaining the other person is. It doesn't require proximity in space -- or even in time! It begins before the two people meet (even before they meet through the internet). It takes as many forms as there are people, and yet the substance is the same in every case. A friend is first of all a witness -- someone who has seen the face of Christ. Her prior meeting with Christ doesn't even need to be a subject of conversation (though it inevitably becomes one) -- you can see the experience in her eyes. And as soon as you see it, you know you are friends. There might only ever be one look exchanged -- one look in an entire lifetime -- and never any words spoken, and still you are friends for life. Or you might never see the person, but another friend can tell you about her, and you are lifelong friends (I'm friends with St. Teresa and St. Charles in this way).

How different this friendship is from the toil and the vagaries of the other sort of "friendship," in which one must always be "something" for the other person, one must always meet some need. Only in friendship in Christ can I be so free, so happy!

O Lord I love the habitation of your house and the place where your glory dwells!

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Dumbstruck by the Mystery

...our temptation is always to impose our prejudices or our measure on reality -- except when we are faced with a fact that leaves us dumbstruck, and instead of dominating the fact ourselves, we are dominated, overcome by it. If there were no moments of this kind, the Mystery could do anything, but in the end, we would reduce everything to the usual explanation. But not even a Nobel Prize winner can stop himself from being dumbstruck before an absolutely gratuitous gesture. If there were not these moments, we would find answers, explanations, and interpretations to avoid being struck by anything. It is good that some things happen that we cannot dominate, then we have to take them seriously, and this is the great question of philosophy. If the conditions for the possibility of knowledge (see Kant) impose themselves on reality or if there is something that is so powerfully disproportionate that it does not let itself be "grasped" by the conditions of possibility, then the horizon opens. If this were not the case, then we could dominate everything and be in peace, or at least without drama. Instead, not even the intelligence of a Nobel Prize winner could prevent him from coming face-to-face with a fact that made him dumbstruck -- instead of dominating, it was he who was dominated. Here begins the drama, because I am called to answer. It is the drama that unfolds between us and the Mystery, through certain facts, certain moments, in which the Mystery imposes itself with this evidence. These are facts that we cannot put in our pocket, which we cannot reduce to antecedent factors.
-- Julian Carron in "Friends, that is, Witnesses."