by Ken Rolheiser
After Easter Mountains and Cairns

In the days to come the mountain of the Temple of Yahweh shall tower above the mountains and be lifted higher than the hills. All the nations will stream to it. (Isaiah 2:2)

Did we get it this Lent? What the Church has been practicing for millennia? The prayer, fasting, and alms giving?

It works! The devil knows it, and that is why the Church has been doing this for ever. Imagine two mountains before you. The first mountain is living life for oneself. The second mountain is living our lives for others. That is the metaphor Father Brendan McGuire used at the start of Lent 2022.

After Easter should find us on the second mountain, looking back on a well marked path we have been following this Lent.

On this second mountain it is still easy to lose our way, so the Saints have erected cairns or markers to help us find our way upward. There are five cairns: self-awareness, humility, love, gratitude and joy.

Is our heart filled with joy this Easter? Not the plastic joy of superficial happiness, but the joy of the gospel that enlivens us despite pain or life’s challenges? If not, then we have to go back down to the next cairn because we are off the track.

Gratitude is the previous marker. If you are not grateful for your life, for all that is good and bad in your life, and grateful for the people God has put in your life, then perhaps you are off the track. Go back to the previous marker which is love.

If you are not feeling the love of God, loving you for just who you are right now without having to do anything more, then you are off the track. You have to go back to the previous marker humility.

Humility helps us realize, “Yes, I am a good person, but I have made mistakes and done bad things. I need God’s Grace to stay on this trail.”

And if we do not feel humble enough to say that, then we have to go back to the very first cairn self-awareness. We may have to ask ourselves frankly, “Am I even on the Second Mountain? Or am I still wandering around in a self-centered world thinking I am doing God’s work?”

We know something about mountains. Prophets have been meeting God there since forever. There is the New Jerusalem, the city on a hill. There is Mount Sinai where Moses made the New Covenant with God.

There are the mountains of the Transfiguration and where Christ ascended, and we are still gazing upward waiting for his return!

Perhaps the Sermon on the Mount is one we should focus on. The Beatitudes remind us - Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who hunger and thirst for justice, the pure in heart, the meek, the merciful, the peacemakers, and those who suffer for righteousness.

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh, to the temple of the God of Jacob that he may teach us his ways so that we may walk in his paths.” (Isaiah 2:3). 

(528 words)