Welcome to the Desert of the Real

What price are we willing to pay to live in reality?

It is a basic tenet of Christian spirituality that the ease of this world is a diabolical illusion. The subjectivity correlative to that illusion is what Sartre calls mauvaise foi, bad faith.

Because the good Father loves us, and wishes us to live in the reality and superabundance of limitless love (rather than in the tarted-up indigence of secular comfort), we must each be dragged into the desert, into the dark night. There we endure a desolation to subdue the truly abominable desolation of selfish existence.

That is, the real is attained only by a pilgrimage in the wilderness. A new city of love shimmers from the desert of wooing.

The loss of financial security, friends, profession, home, love, children... In His mercy, the good Father will take everything, and give us Bread for the stone of hardhearted comfort. Blessed be the Name of the LORD.

And so today's first Mass reading:

"Pharaoh was already near when the children of Israel looked up and saw that the Egyptians were on the march in pursuit of them. In great fright they cried out to the LORD. And they complained to Moses, 'Were there no burial places in Egypt that you had to bring us out here to die in the desert? Why did you do this to us? Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Did we not tell you this in Egypt, when we said, "Leave us alone. Let us serve the Egyptians"? Far better for us to be the slaves of the Egyptians than to die in the desert.'" (Exodus 14:10-13)

The Egypt of the soul is the Matrix of a social system predicated on radical appropriation, the strong using up the weak--indeed, everyone, weak and strong, meanly consuming each other.

In the first movie of the Matrix trilogy, the traitor deliberately chooses existence under the conditions of delusive fantasy rather than face the demands of the real, the demands of mission and responsibility.

And the Israelites want to return to a slavery determined by the dreams dreamed by power.

But Moses gives the prophetic word, the exhortation to faith. Though all the powers of the world threaten you with destruction, trust in God:

"'Fear not! Stand your ground, and you will see the victory the LORD will win for you today. These Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again. The LORD himself will fight for you; you have only to keep still.'" (Exodus 14:14)

An authentically consoling word.

However, it is a word that can easily be coopted by the world-system, the Egypt still in our hearts. For example, if we take it to mean that the LORD promises us temporal comfort, we have thereby given up the promontory of faith for the imperial flatlands and their fleshpots.

In my dark night, this word was given to me, and I wanted it to mean that everything I had lost would be restored. But that is not how it works. What the good LORD promises is that if we fall into His hands, if we are still, and let His purgation work its way in us, then we will not be overtaken by the infernal fantasy that was our world, inside and out. As we are purged, we are ever more totally incorporated into the consubstantial solidarity of the one suffering body of humanity thrumming with the wounded Heart of an infinite love.

He does keep this promise. If we are still, if we don't try to meet powerplay with powerplay, we will grow in intimacy with the crucified Jesus, and by this Bread of total love, this hidden manna, we will surely overcome the world--and manifest truest love.