In The Desert Part III – By Hannah Hay

Diocese of Thunder Bay Crest

What can we do in the midst of a world that can break our heart?

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” C. S. Lewis

What are our options? To become hardened? To become soft? To numb? To be unable to love or to feel?

Below are some thoughts to reflect on as we enter Holy Week inspired by a homily by Fr. Mike Schmitz.

To have a lent that would transform our entire lives we have to allow God to get to our hearts in such a way that they would be changed forever. God can only change our hearts to the degree that we trust in him. In the midst of pain and terrible loss, the temptation is to become calloused, soft, or numb. However, Jesus shows us a different way, a more powerful way. He is not indifferent to others’ pain or to his own pain. “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears…” (Hebrews 5:7). This week we enter into the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus has a heart that is breaking. His soul is deeply troubled. Jesus reveals something vastly more powerful than becoming soft or calloused or numb. He is vulnerable.

Society today promotes what some call a “faux vulnerability.” People are quick to share their stories and personal details on social media, or in person, in order to obtain a certain reaction. There is often an ulterior motive that comes from pride or perhaps vanity. Fr. Mike describes the difference between vulnerability and transparency, another term that we often hear. Transparency is like living in a fishbowl. People can see and know every detail of your life. However, with vulnerability, Fr. Mike clarifies, we let someone in our fishbowl and allow them to change things, move things around. God may work through others in our lives, those we trust, not just anyone and everyone.

A heart that is vulnerable is a heart that is able to be hurt, but also able to be mended; able to be broken, but also able to be loved; able to be abandoned, but also able to be found; able to be troubled, but also able to be glorified by God. A heart that is vulnerable is a heart that is able. In order to allow God to get to the heart, we need trust. I have to trust enough to be vulnerable, which means there will be pain, loss, betrayal, and risk. Research professor, Brene Brown, concluded people who are high in vulnerability all have 2 things in common: 1. A strong sense of love and belonging, which amounts to a strong sense of worthiness. 2. None of them talked about vulnerability as being comfortable or excruciating, but rather as being necessary. As Catholic christians, we know that we have a Father in heaven who knows our names, who loves us, and created us on purpose. We must be vulnerable to be able to love, belong, and to fulfill our purpose. Sometimes we can feel so overwhelmed with uncertainty and anxiety that we can be tempted to numb ourselves. We binge on Netflix, food, drink, shopping, or scrolling. Brene Brown says the problem is, we cannot selectively numb ourselves. To numb ourselves is to make our heart unable. To numb myself from pain is to numb myself from joy. To numb myself from anxiety, is to numb myself from peace. To numb myself from grief is to numb myself from healing. To numb myself from heartbreak, is to numb myself from love. We need to choose true vulnerability, allow God access to our hearts to do as he said he would in the new covenant: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God and they will be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:33)

Have a blessed Holy Week!