Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > Paschal Mystery


Stringing Pearls of Heaven

Living the Paschal Mystery

Dec 3, 2009

Saying For Today: Rather, the cross is a sign and symbol of the triumph through Grace, and the transformation of violence, hate, and meanness into Love by Love.

Welcome to OneLife Ministries. This site is designed to lead you prayerfully into a heart experience of Divine Presence, Who is Love. While it focuses on Christian teaching, I hope persons of varied faiths will find inspiration here. Indeed, "God" can be whatever image helps us trust in the Sacred, by whatever means Grace touches us each. Please share this ministry with others, and please return soon. There is a new offering daily. And to be placed on the daily OneLife email list, to request notifications of new writings or submit prayer requests, write to briankwilcox@yahoo.com .

Brian Kenneth Wilcox MDiv, MFT, PhD
Interspiritual Pastor-Teacher, Author, Workshop Leader, Spiritual Counselor, and Chaplain.

You are invited to join Brian at his fellowship group on Facebook. The group is called OneLife Ministries – An Interspiritual Contemplative Fellowship. Hope to see you there. Blessings.

I dedicate this to all person of no religious faith or of other faith than mine who join with me, and my Christian brothers and sisters, in living the cosmic and historical Truth of the Paschal Mystery, for the good and peace of our world. Bless each! Amen.

Today's Scripture

8Christ humbled himself.
He obeyed God
to the point of dying on a cross.
9Then, God gave Christ
the highest place
and honored his person
above all other persons.

*Philippians 2.8-9


It is in this darkness, where there is nothing left in us that can please or comfort our own minds, when we seem to be useless and worthy of all contempt, when we seem to have failed, when we seem to be destroyed and devoured, it is then that the deep and secret selfishness that is too close for us to identify is stripped away from our souls. It is in this darkness that we find true liberty. It is in this abandonment that we are made strong. This is the night which empties and makes us pure.

*Thomas Merton. New Seeds of Contemplation.

Spiritual Teaching

In our Philippians passage, we see the central drama of the paschal mystery. The paschal mystery is referring to the suffering, death, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus Christ. Paschal is from a root “lamb.” Mystery refers to something known but not fully known, accessible to be experienced at ever-deepening levels. So, the paschal mystery is not simply something that happened to Jesus Christ - the Lamb of God -; rather, this Mystery of mysteries occurs within us each submitting to the Truth of Love. To be one with and in Christ is to have this Mystery lived in and through us, in relationship with others. This is the Christian concept of righteousness.

In the Philippians text, we see the hinge of the Mystery. He died; he was exalted – actually, this passage seems to conflate the resurrection and ascent as a singular act of exaltation, of freedom over all the deathly powers that would hold in bondage the human person and creation.

Now, I will take this transition of apparent opposites – dying, living – and utilize them in this writing. For we are each to enter into this Mystery, and within our bodies hold the tensions of this dying-living, as one Life, not contradictions. This can only be done in Grace, in Love, in God.

* * *

Richard Rohr, in Everything Belongs, refers to words of Simone Weil, speaking of the emptiness and void we can sometimes enter as a natural part of our spiritual Journey. Simone Weil said, “It is grace that forms the void inside of us and it is grace alone that can fill the void.”

In the language of the paschal mystery: Grace both led to the death of Jesus from life and his life from death. Yet, in the Spirit, these two are one divine Act of Grace, working in consort as one inspiration and influence.

This means, we cannot avoid the state of felt-emptiness and pass through to Fulness of Life. Rather, Fulness of Life arises from the felt-emptiness and all its aspects: lostness, shame, confusion, guilt, loneliness, afflictive emotions, pain, suffering, contrition, … Indeed, the life of the Fulness is within the emptiness, and the emptiness is within the Fulness. In Christ, at the Center of the Cross, the point of Union of all directions, all is equally in God, all happening in us is the completeness and wholeness of the paschal mystery of Christ, in Christ, through Christ, as Christ.

* * *

Yet, what is surprising to us, possibly most, is that the Grace that gives Fulness, is the Grace that forms within us the aching, painful emptiness. We too easily consider Grace as only wanting to solve our problems and lostness, when Grace often works in us to aid us to experience that very abyss that opens to the awareness of our need of God, so that we might emerge new persons.

We, possibly unknowing, have a subtle pride, and it says, “I deserve better than this.” We want to control God, like persons using magic, who use affirmative or positive prayers or religious ritual to seek only good according to the ego perspective. I am still waiting for someone to say an affirmative prayer like this: “God, I've lost almost everything, and I don't care. I'm glad to lose all for You.” Or, “My life is a mess, but I affirm it's to teach me more about love, so, I'm okay with it staying a mess as long as it needs to. Amen.”

The Philippians passage even notes humbleness as key in the paschal mystery inception in Jesus. The passage reads, "He humbled himself." He, as Son of God, chose to do this, such was not merely given him. The humbleness was context specific: a humbling to accept a destiny for him, and in obedience to God. Such obedience frees one from slavish servitude to the petty demands and facile fashions of persons and cultures.

Be assured, the paschal mystery contrasts with much that goes on under the name of Christian and religion, as well as spiritual. In the designs of God, and our purpose to learn to Love, our getting what our ego wants and considers our right and good, well, that is not even on the God Blimp Screen.

To be Christian, of whatever faith or no faith one is, means to live into the Christic Mystery at the heart of creation and its evolution. This brings all into one point that comes from and opens to Infinite Love.

* * *

Hasidic masters taught students a positive approach to living, whether in the felt-emptiness or the felt-fulness. Their words: “Rake the muke this way. Rake the muke that way. It will still be muck. In the time you are brooding, you could be stringing pearls for the delight of heaven.”

The Christian affirmation of the paschal mystery, which includes the miracle of the death-resurrection of Jesus, is central to the stringing of heavenly pearls on earth. In humbleness, we string heavenly pearls; in pride, we rake muke. We choose, daily.

* * *

Why do Christians so focus on the cross? Partly, for the cross is not a fatalistic symbol of a man overtaken against his will, a pun to the forces of history, a puppet to meanness and violence. Rather, the cross is a sign and symbol of the triumph through Grace, and the transformation of violence, hate, and meanness into Love by Love.

St. Paul embodied this paschal mystery in his work. Notice how he identifies fully with the Christ and the cross, even sharing in the humbleness by weakness and timidity, rather than a show of apostolic strength:

1When I first came to you, dear spiritual brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s mystery. 2For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness - timid and trembling.
*I Corinthians 2.1-3

The fulness of this paschal mystery, as embodied by St. Paul, is seen in one of the most mystical of passages, for our embodiment:

I am crucified with Christ. Still, I live. Yet, I do not live. Rather, Christ lives within me. And the life I now live in the body, I live by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me.
*Galatians 2.20

In the cross, we hear God stringing pearls; in the resurrection-ascension, we see the pearls gleaming in the light of the Laughter of God. Within, not apart from, the cross – the bloody scene of dying-, is the brightness and shout of new Life. Pearls adorn the cross. We string pearls in union with Jesus Christ, and oneness with one another.

* * *

We enter into the mystery of death-exaltation, not as opposites, but as a single process always happening. Sometimes we feel more one aspect of this wholeness than at other times, yet, in some way, we are both dying and being reborn always, at the same time.

Therefore, in each situation you find yourself, you can choose the positive. You can seek to live, amidst the dying and rebirths around and within you, as a person stringing pearls for the joy of the heavenlies, and the blessing of others, and yourself. Amen.

How are you being called to live out the paschal mystery in your life, your relationships, and your devotion to the Divine One?

* * *

*OneLife Ministries is a ministry of Brian Kenneth Wilcox, SW Florida. Brian lives a vowed life and with his two dogs, Bandit Ty and St. Francis, with friends and under a vow of simplicity. Brian is an ecumenical-interspiritual leader, who chooses not to identify with any group, and renounces all titles of sacredness that some would apply to him, but seeks to be open to how Christ manifests in the diversity of Christian denominations and varied religious-spiritual traditions. He affirms that all spiritual paths lead ultimately back to Jesus Christ. He is Senior Chaplain for the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office, Punta Gorda, FL.

*Brian welcomes responses to his writings or submission of prayer requests at briankwilcox@yahoo.com . Also, Brian is on Facebook: search Brian Kenneth Wilcox.

*Contact the above email to book Brian for preaching, Spiritual Direction, retreats, workshops, animal blessing services, house blessings, or other spiritual requests. You can order his book An Ache for Union from major booksellers.


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