I had another phone conversation with my spiritual Father. I reminded him that the last time we spoke, he asked with some exasperated emotion, "What kind of a house did you buy, anyway?" He has been concerned about the living conditions, and he well knows how the outer aspects covered over much that was wrong with this poor, old farmhouse. Plus, he understands how people can deceive out in the big world.
But I had an answer for him. I had asked His Real Presence the same question my spiritual Father had asked me. Immediately came the response: You have bought the Church.
This caused me to smile, but I also suggested that this house is also my soul.
Yes, I am finding out all kinds of things that need repair or that others did not do correctly, not to the laws of building codes, not to contractor licensing laws, infested with critters doing what is instinctual, not insulated against the weather, and with messes at every level. There have been people in here not to be trusted, some immoral users and takers, and also, now, a good soul with his workers. I've had to give in and ask back one who started out with good effort but slacked some. He brings too much of the world in here, but I will guard against such and keep praying for his good.
However, the foundation is now good, and the structure is intact. Yes, it is just that once I started to do some cosmetic repair, I discovered aspects under the surface that needed to be rid out, corrected, improved, or rebuilt.
My spiritual Father laughed and said, "Yes, that is it! It is kind of like St. Francis rebuilding the Church, of sorts." And I reminded him this house also represents my soul--not just the Church.
So we discussed the points expressed above, and I have my work cut out for me regarding my soul and the Church, in all that I do to try to "make all things new" in Christ in here. It is all a marvelous but accurate metaphor. This house represents a conglomeration of all of us in the Church, for it is people who reflect by thought, word and deed, and sometimes the reflection is too much of the world and our sins rather than of His Real Presence Who Is in us.
We just forget, I suppose, or have not yet had that nuptial kiss of God. Once we experience the reality of His Real Presence and that we are in Him and He is in us, the picture grows clearer, brighter, lighter, more faithful, hopeful and charitable.
Yes, I have bought the Church, essentially, and such as today, my own temporal body has too much pain to be able to do much tangibly to hang drywall. I need to either figure out some kind of brace to help hold pieces of wallboard in position on a wall so that I can secure with screws, or to pray that Francesco or Raphael might stop by and lend physical hand, briefly. I have all the pieces measured and ca ut. I have noted some causes and news out in the world for which to pray and continue with my usual, inner conversation as as well as the absence of other than resting in His Real Presence. There is much suffering but also much holy hope.
I have planted some scented, colorful perennials to beautify and honor Te Deum: You, God. I watered the blueberry patch and pray they grow and develop in order to yield good fruit. Once the afternoon heat abates and the back is rested, I will attempt pre-drilling so that a critical support partial wall, holding the ceiling joists, can be secured by 6" screws. A worker last fall neglected that necessary detail. I also will shoot nails into the opposite ceiling joists, as he neglected to nail those, too. They are resting on the header plate of an exterior wall.
So, we see how to make the metaphor extend from this house to God's house to the Body of Christ, His Church, of which we are Her members. I suppose the hiring of the worker who neglected to do some of his job relates with the local priest who avoids much to do with pastoral and spiritual involvement. I suppose my own neglect at times of His Real Presence in me--whether it be when frustrated or feeling despair, or in spiritual or temporal acedia--finds its equivalent in the metaphor.
This is the house, and I am in it, and you are in it; and all within and without are affected for good or ill. It is a temporal place yet also a spiritual place. It represents all aspects of God's creation; it contains the hindrance of all manner and levels of sin. It also has hope and faith and love of that which is seen and unseen, of God and of God-in-others. It is His Church and we are the Body--somehow, someday to be made whole and perfect, subsumed and in union with all facets of His Real Presence.
I am here, and I am in the process of making all things new through, with and in His Real Presence. This house and my soul, the Church and all souls, are purposeful realities in temporal and mystical connectedness. This house is God's, yours, mine. We remain in His love, and His Real Presence makes His abode in us.