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The Roman Catholic Church in The Bahamas is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope. The diocese was elevated to a full diocese, as the diocese of Nassau in June 1960. On June 22nd, 1999, the diocese was again elevated as the new Archdiocese of Nassau.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Call to the Deep Waters

The second day of our Lenten Mission had us continuing our journeys into the deep waters. The Loyola Hall was once again packed as many made the sacrifice, to be present for more Spiritual guidance to dive in faith into the deep waters of sacramental grace during this Lenten season. Fr. Donald Chambers continued to hold our hands as we began to get our feet wet in the waters of the deep. Whether you can swim or not, put on your diving gear and enter in Faith, knowing that God will be firm with you and gentle with you at the same time.

As we read from Fr. Donald's homily many of us can relate to this deep water of suffering. Put on your diving gear as your about to enter the deep waters of Christs' suffering.

Continuing from day one, we came to understand that John the beloved disciple and Mary the Mother of God were witnesses to the power of God's grace in the deep waters of suffering and love. During which, blood and water flowed from the side of Jesus as he hung upon the cross. This suffering love of Jesus gave birth to a new community call the Church who's members are sent to the deep waters of life to be channels of God's grace. Like the birth of a new born child, the new life of the Church is born in the deep waters of suffering and love. And ask any mother who has given birth, the birth of a child comes through suffering and love.

As we come to the second day of this mission let us pray that the deep waters of blood and water flowing from the side of Jesus may touch our minds and hearts.

God often says to all of us at some point in our lives " listen you've had enough of this horrid pace of life, this excitement, publicity, this always being with people being busy and doing lots of things; you've had enough of that". Now I desire you to go and hide yourself in the deep waters of my presence. This deep water to which each and every member of the Bahamian Church is called to is a lonely place. It is an unexcited place, it's unattractive, it's unsensual, it's frightening, it's intimidating and it's a place where very few will rather go unless voluntarily.

Going to the deep depth waters of Christ suffering has the capacity to transform us. We surrender our self importance, we surrender our unhealthy ego, we surrender our pride and realize that it is God that we move and live and have our being and not our selves. At this point of surrender the sounds of our own human voices; fear, mistrusts, worries, anxieties are exchanged for the waters of quietness that flow from the Throne of Grace where we taste the sweetness and soak up the power of life hidden in Christ. Colossians 3:3, "For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God".

When we arrive at this point in our Spiritual journey, the Spirit of God is released and takes control as we see in the life and the ministry of the two great Apostles of the Church, Peter and Paul.

The obedience Son of God struggles to accept the Father's invitation to go to the deep waters of his passion. And while the Son of God struggles to accept the Father's invitation to go into the deep waters of suffering his disciples falls asleep and are hopelessly unaware that the loving Father is inviting Jesus to go into the deep waters. They are not aware of what is happening to Jesus.

I do not believe that it is a coincidence that Jesus' struggle to accept the Father's will occurs in the Garden of Gethsemane, a name which means "oil press". An oil press is a mechanism in which olives are placed in a basin and undergo intense pressing. Not just with an ordinary stone but with a millstone. Then the oil used for nourishment, used for healing squeezes out into a container. Jesus' agitation in the garden is really an experience of being pressed, an expression of deep and emotional suffering in the face of his impending death. Jesus is generally terrified of what awaits him, but if it's the Father's will he's open to allow himself to be pressed.

Because Jesus struggles in the deep waters of his suffering and his impending death he had to school himself to accept his suffering. That's why we see in Matthew 6:10 "your kingdom come, your will be done". In order to school himself I believe that Jesus made a choice to invite his disciples to join him in the deep waters of his suffering as a means of support. He invited Peter, James and John to accompany him, to give him prayerful support as he's about to enter this deep waters. He also not just invited them to stay with him for companionship but he invited them to stay awake with him to become aware of what his internal struggles and to pray with him. He schooled himself to accept the Father's will.

We all struggle when challenged to live out our Baptismal call in the concrete situations of our daily life. These deep waters that you and I are invited to enter can seem threatening, because our ego's a stubborn thing. Our ego doesn't like to change. If you and I define ego as a collection of patterns and definitions that shape and determine what and how we think, what and how we feel, what and how we desire and behave; we don't like change. We don't like to change the way we think and behave. So the problem is, we have been schooled at every level of life; "at Church, at school and society" to always be in control of every situation. We must learn however from Jesus who in his own struggle to accept the Father's invitation to go into the deep waters schooled himself into the Father's will by going in prayer to the Father, inviting his disciples to offer prayerful support.

Parents should school themselves to be the first catechists for their children through examples of family prayer, examples of dialogue, conflict resolution, cooperation in the home. Parishes should school the community that they are in to become centers of faith development, centers of collaboration, centers of communal prayer and for living out the sacrament of life and theological reflection. Married couples should school themselves to weather the storm of conflict and challenges in their marital life by praying together, becoming faithful members of the faith community, by practicing openness an honesty. Without this kind of schooling in Faith, married couples will run away when the mess and the muck of their relationship becomes real. The first thing they will start thinking of is divorce and separation. Parishioners will run away to find other faith communities that will make them feel good.

As we gaze at Jesus pinned in death on a cross realize how terrifying you are in your families. You may ask these questions; How am I going to sustain myself without sexual gratification, excess food and alcohol or boasting about material things to my friends. If I give up all of that how am I going to survive? How is my family going to survive without the internet, the blackberry, the computer, cable or the abundance of food in the home? These are questions that worry us and bother us, but I assure you Beloved in Christ if these are your concerns then I invite you to listen to Jesus saying to you, "Remember Elijah, my Father said to him, you shall drink from the brook and for your food I have commanded the ravens to feed you there". God will take care of us in those deep waters. God promises to provide for your needs during the time of in these deep waters. So God invites everyone, not just the Priests and the religious and the Bishops; everyone to embrace your suffering for when you are not in control you become open to God's revelation. You become transformed from depending on your own power to depending on God's power you are strengthened for mission, that is preaching God's word and not your own. You will experience the resurrection, you will experience new life. Once you surrender control you will experience the resurrection.

When you surrender yourself then the Holy Spirit will take you and lead you and guide you and then you will be raised up, you will be raised up to the highest. You will experience the resurrection, a glimpse of the resurrection at least. You have no fear; but that can only come if you choose to surrender yourself, to give up control and to allow the Holy Spirit to take control. You will experience New Life, "the Resurrection".

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