Because Immanuel Is His Name

The other day I wrote a post about how small an amount of time I am committing to Our Lord. The number I came up with was shockingly small. Given the years I wandered in the wilderness, the number probably has a couple of more zeros to the right of the decimal point. But that is in the past.

One fact about Our Lord is He doesn’t keep bringing up the past and how much I neglected Him or, more accurately in my case, flat-out ignored Him. Now I think of Him constantly. Our reader Rose wrote that her spiritual director has suggested that she remember that Our Lord is only “an awareness away.” Allison suggested praying the LOTH as another way to keep our Lord before us. I rely on these two tools daily.

Webster wrote once about Brother Lawrence and his Practice of the Presence of God. So simple, so easy that it is often overlooked to just think of God. Brother Lawrence did so constantly and I have read of his practice more than once during my walks to and from daily mass.

There is no known portrait of my friend Wu Li, SJ so I’m going to have to make-do with this one. Just a portrait of a wise looking Chinese man is enough for my mind to bring Wu to life.

A few days ago, I received my copy of Jonathan Chaves’ book, Singing of the Source: Nature and God and the Poetry of Chinese Painter Wu Li. I am so thankful that Chaves translated these beautiful poems for us all. This book belongs on every Catholic’s bookshelf.

The following poem in particular has had a profound impact on me.  It is from a series entitled Singing of the Source and Course of Holy Church. These words speak of our Triune God as He is, and as He is in the Eucharist, and how thankful I feel when I partake of Communion with Him.

Utterly transcendent, His wondrous essence
was never limited to place;
to bring life to the teeming people
He showed Himself, then hid.
Effortlessly, a single standard—
a new cake baked for us;
as before, the six directions have one supreme Lord.
In the human realm, now we have
a whole burnt offering;
in Heaven for eternity is preserved our daily bread.
I have incurred so many transgressions,
yet am allowed to draw near;
with body and soul fully sated,
tears moisten my robe.

So Wu Li felt the same way as I do when partaking of the Eucharist. Thoughts of gratitude and happiness because behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). He is here. God is with us and He is as Good as His Name.

  • Anonymous

    A couple of years ago on a road trip out West, we stopped at a rest area in the Big Sky Country of Montana (seemingly in the middle of nowhere.) A large enclosed map of the area was posted with an arrow pointing to “you are here.” My heart “saw” another arrow pointing to the same spot with the words “I AM here, too” verifying to me that everywhere we go, we are in His Presence!“Where can I go from your Spirit? … If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. (from Psalm 139)

  • Frank

    @Anon 8:11,What a beautiful reflection. Much obliged to you.

  • Sandy

    This gave me chills."as before, the six directions have one supreme Lord."Thanks for sharing your new friend with us, Frank.

  • Jonathan Chaves

    Frank,This is simply wonderful. I am very moved. It is a pleasant surprise indeed that you would have picked that particular poem. You will understand, what none of the scholarly reviewers understood (or wanted to understand) that my primary argument about the theological poems, especially this set of 12, is that Wu Li is entirely orthodox. Wu Li does not represent a newly minted "Chinese" Christianity. He represents Christianity, period, transcending place (and culture), as he himself says in this poem. And as Paul says when he states that the Incarnation is "foolishness to the Gentiles and a stumbling block to the Jews." It did not fit in with any of the cultural complexes available in Wu li's place and time.

  • Stefanie

    That passage from Psalm 139 was one that aviator Charles Lindbergh selected to be carved on his tombstone. He knew what that meant literally!

  • Frank

    This post was published this morning at 5AM. I went to Mass during lunch and was astonished at the readings for today. They seemed to just click with this post and Wu Li's poem and the comments received up until that time. Have a look, 1 Pt 2:2-5, 9-12Beloved:Like newborn infants, long for pure spiritual milkso that through it you may grow into salvation,for you have tasted that the Lord is good.Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beingsbut chosen and precious in the sight of God,and, like living stones,let yourselves be built into a spiritual houseto be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrificesacceptable to God through Jesus Christ. You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood,a holy nation, a people of his own,so that you may announce the praises of himwho called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were no peoplebut now you are God’s people;you had not received mercybut now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as aliens and sojournersto keep away from worldly desires that wage war against the soul.Maintain good conduct among the Gentiles,so that if they speak of you as evildoers,they may observe your good worksand glorify God on the day of visitation. Ps 100: 2, 3, 4, 5 Responsorial PsalmR. Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;serve the LORD with gladness;come before him with joyful song.R. Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.Know that the LORD is God;he made us, his we are;his people, the flock he tends.R. Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.Enter his gates with thanksgiving,his courts with praise;Give thanks to him;bless his name.R. Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.The LORD is good:his kindness endures forever,and his faithfulness, to all generations.R. Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.And as for what Jonathan Chaves said in his comment above,Mk 10:46-52 GospelAs Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd,Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus,sat by the roadside begging.On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth,he began to cry out and say,“Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent.But he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me.”Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”So they called the blind man, saying to him,“Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.”He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?”The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.”Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.”Immediately he received his sightand followed him on the way.

  • Frank

    Which could be interpreted as "and followed Him on the Way.