Eduardo S. Canlas
January 14, 2018 Columbus, Ohio
As a BCBP Sunday blogger I share with you reflections triggered by my reading of “No Man is an Island,” by Thomas Merton, Harcourt, 1955
BCBP IDEAL: What is it?
Implied, and often practiced and sometimes evident in the BCBP members’ ways, is their Ideal and their efforts to “discover God in myself and to discover myself in God,” and in this manner of striving, for the members
“to have the courage to face myself exactly as I am, with all my limitations, and to accept others as they are, with all their limitations.”
Let’s just say that the BCBP community, like other similar communities, tries to live by and to practice this Ideal.
It is not simply the “Smooth Personal Relations” Pilipino trait that I observe members endeavor to achieve, but the simple act, for the many that I have known, to put their “service of God” front and center in their mindsets, whenever they encounter, as they often do in this service, some “put downs,” or even blatant disrespect or scolding or even deeply painful letdowns by their leaders and/or others in the group.
True, the presence of this pure intention to serve, to cooperate and to do myriad things for the community seems to be a “given” in this our BCBP community.
But for the BCBP members to be able to “discover God in myself and to discover myself in God,” it means that daily and conscious effort be exerted to “examine daily one’s day,” as in a nightly Examen of Conscience before retiring, and this of course requires that one does not neglect daily prayers.
Without prayers, there can be no discovery and without discovery we cannot find our inner self, or our true self, where God can be found.
It is incumbent upon us, therefore, to discover our “true selves,” not an easy task at all and one that “requires courage” because, as Thomas Merton puts it, “we cannot find ourselves within ourselves, but only in others…”
Merton continues “ we must forget ourselves in order to become truly conscious of who we are…the best way to love ourselves is to love others,” fellow members in the BCBP community, I might add.
For, as Merton would say:
…In the center of our being is a point of nothingness
Which is untouched by sin and illusion,
a point of pure truth,
a point or spark which belongs entirely to God,
which is never at our disposal,
from which God disposes of our lives,
which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind,
or the brutalities of our own will.
This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us.”
So, when we find ourselves in the dark pits of our existence, and when we experience defeats and crushing humiliation, (and yes, these “defeats and humiliations.” can be found too, in our BCBP community, and why not?) and to be even more extreme about it, when we find our lives devoid of prestige and status? Glory and fame? And deprived of all things we have devoted all our lives to achieve, then we just might, or we should just then, might begin to find God in this “ little point of nothingness and absolute poverty (where) the pure glory of God is in us.”
For a BCBP member to “discover Christ, he/she must first discover himself/herself.
It is our prayer that we are all able to make this discovery in this our voyage in life on this vessel, the “M.V. BCBP” that we are all sailing in.
In this regard, during our visit to a friend in the hospice this past week, where the friend was, waiting for the end, after a full life of service to others, we observed how her face literally shone like the sun when she saw the priest come to her, to give her the last rites of the Church.
Commenting even to her visitor on that fateful morning, “I see Christ behind you,” forcing that visitor even to make a glance back over her own shoulder.
We think that in this instance, somehow, she (the terminally ill friend) found The Lord in that moment, in the hospice bed, when nothingness appeared on the horizon.
But to continue…
“We become ourselves by dying to ourselves. We gain only what we give up, and if we give up everything we gain everything…
…We cannot find ourselves within ourselves, but only in others, yet at the same time before we can go out to others, we must first find ourselves…”
Think about this and think of the struggles that we encounter daily as members of Christian communities like the BCBPs of our lives.