Share this story

 | By Father Charles Irvin

A journey:

Walk with me to find yourself

Walk with me now into affluent modern man’s temple of gods and goddesses. Isn’t the facade beautiful? Aren’t the Corinthian columns magnificent? Our guide, bids us walk along the interior of this pantheon. We pause at gorgeous, creamy statues cut from Carrara marble, standing bigger than life on their impressive pedestals. They represent the gods and goddesses to which we give ourselves – fame, fortune, beauty, power, sex, money, indolence, sloth, jealousy, hatred, gluttony, pride – each one of them capturing the thoughts and fantasies in our day.

Standing in the middle is a gigantic statue that towers over all others. We notice that the eyes of all the other gods and goddesses are discretely directed toward this one, the central one of them all, the one that dominates the temple. Cut into the stone pedestal we find the words: “The Glory of the Imperial Self.” The feeling evoked makes me uncomfortable.

Departing from this temple, located on a hill high above the city below, we descend into the whirl of this world. As we continue on the main boulevard, we come upon a little church, located at the head of a small street’s intersection. Our guide takes us inside. I find myself bathed in the soft rays of colorful hues that come from beautiful images of holy men and women depicted in the little church’s old, stained-glass windows.

Looking around I find warm and inviting statues of men and women who peacefully gaze down at us. Flickering flames of votive candles bathe everything in soft light. Faint whiffs of incense waft by, mingled in with the smells of burning beeswax. There is Something here that was not in the temple high on the hill above us – a near palpable Presence.

My eyes take me to the apse of the church. Hanging above us in the central spot of the church is a crucifix. It is beautiful, even though at one moment in time long ago it was a hideous instrument of Roman execution. The Man hanging on it is one like us but at the same time not like us. He hangs there not so much in death as in rest. There is something profoundly serene and peaceful about Him. It is a peace that follows something that is finished rather than destroyed.

I did not feel the need to kneel in the pantheon. I need to kneel here. I am aware of a Presence, a nearness that both surrounds me and is within me. I become aware of a stirring deep within – a movement, if you will. Someone is close. Someone wants to draw me near. It is almost as if I am at home – not the home in which my mother and father loved me and raised me, but my real home.

Here, I know I belong.

He lets me go through my usual litany of sorrow for sins. He lets me rattle on about all of my failures, my neglect, the things I did and did not do. Then, when I become weary of talking about myself, I begin to realize that He wants me to simply tell Him that I love Him. All He wants to hear from me was that underneath all of the ash and debris of my sins and failures, I really do love Him. He wants me to tell Him that I want Him to love me.