Sunday, April 19, 2009

Love Triumphs : The Easter Octave and the Liturgy of the Redemption Fills the World

When on the Cross my Heart was sweating in the wine-press, when all strength had already been surrendered and only the emptiness and the impotence still suffered; when all it could yield, drop by drop, was “I can’t any more,” and “I hardly have the will”;

when all blood had abandoned the Heart and all spirit the soul: then it was only nothingness that bled, only the water of perfect exhaustion that still flowed when the lance bored in (visibly into the Heart of flesh, and invisibly into soul, spirit and God): in me God himself became exhausted. The Inexhaustible was exhausted. Life was lived out. Love was loved out.

Life was lived out.

Love was loved out.

This was my victory. In the Cross was Easter.

In death the grave of the world was burst open.

In the leap into the void was the ascension to heaven.

Now I fill the world, and at last every soul lives from my dying.

You do not bear the judgment, but the grace. … Your participation in the redemption (your status as co-redeemers, we might say) is but an analogy, an expression of my love. But it is real: I myself make it real and valid. I make up for your failure and bring it to plenitude. … Taste with me the futility of the redemption. It is from such stuff that the Father has always wrought his grace. There is a judgment; in the Father’s hand there is a balance. In the one scale there lies the heavy and oppressive futility of it all. In the other, a buoyant, mounting hope. And, as the first scale falls, the judgment is decided. Hope mounts up and my Kingdom triumphs; a soaring escape.

Let us look steadfastly to the blood of Christ, and see how precious that blood is to God, which, having been shed for our salvation, has set the grace of repentance before the whole world.

--Pope St Clement, First Epistle to the Corinthians

***Considering the event of today, you might want to watch/listen to/pray with "Divine Mercy and How This Effects Your Thinking," a program that features Fr. Benedict Groeschel and a good friend, Br. Michael Gaitley, MIC.***

Friday, April 17, 2009

This Tree is my eternal salvation ...

This Tree is my eternal salvation. It is my nourishment and my banquet. Amidst its roots I cast my own roots deep: beneath its boughs I grow and expand, revelling in its sigh as in the wind itself. Flying from the burning heat, I have pitched my tent in its shadow, and have found a resting-place of dewy freshness. I flower with its flowers; its fruits bring perfect joy--fruits which have been preserved for me since time's beginning, and which now I freely eat. This Tree is a food, sweet food, for my hunger, and a fountain for my thirst; it is a clothing for my nakedness; its leaves are the breath of life. Away with the fig-tree, from this time on! If I fear God, this is my protection; if I stumble, this is my support; it is the prize for which I fight and the reward of my victory. This is my straitened path, my narrow way; this is the stairway of Jacob, where angels pass up and down, and where the Lord in very truth standing at the head.

This Tree, vast as heaven itself, rises from earth to the skies, a plant immortal, set firm in the midst of heaven and earth, base of all that is, foundation of the universe, support of this world of men, binding-force of all creation, holding within itself all the- mysterious essence of man. Secured with the unseen clamps of the spirit, so that, adjusted to the Divine, it may never bend or warp, with foot resting firm on earth it towers to the topmost skies, and spans with its allembracing arms the boundless gulf of space between.

He was All, and in all, filling it with himself; stripped naked for battle against the powers of the air. . .

With him two thieves were extended, bearing within themselves the marks of those two peoples, the marks of those two types of mind. . .

When this cosmic combat came to an end ... the heavens shook; almost, the stars fell from the skies; the light of the sun was extinguished for a time; rocks were split asunder; the entire world was all but shattered ... But great Jesus breathed forth his divine Soul, saying: "Father, into Thy hand I commend my spirit." And lo, even while all things shuddered and heaved in earthquake, reeling for fear, his divine Soul ascended, giving life and strength to all; and again creation was still, as if this divine Crucifixion and Extension had everywhere unfolded and spread, penetrating all things, through all, and in all.

O Thou who art alone among the alone, and all in all! Let the heavens hold thy Godhead; and paradise, thy soul; and earth, thy blood. For the Indivisible has become divided, so that all might be saved, and the world below might not remain ignorant of the coming of God....

We beseech thee now, Lord God,
Christ, eternal King of souls:
stretch forth thy mighty hands over thy sacred Church,
and over a holy people for ever thine.

-Ancient Paschal Homily, 51
(aka Pseudo-Chrysostom, Sermon VI for Holy Week)

The Resurrected Christ : Wellspring & Liturgy

Now, in the hour when the economy of salvation reaches its climax, it is Jesus himself who opens “paradise” (Lk 23:43), the garden of life, to men who are straying far from God. He can do so because the source, the wellspring, is now here.

Christ is risen; he is truly risen! Now everything begins.

On this day of birth the river of life becomes LITURGY as it spreads out from the tomb and reaches us in the incorruptible body of Christ.

[T]he risen Christ [is] the inexhaustible wellspring of the liturgy. […] He is united to the Father and radiates the glory of God from his own body; being united to the wellspring he gives life (see Jn 5:20-21 and 26-27). The river of life can now flow forth from the throne of God and from the throne of the Lamb. The liturgy has been born; the Resurrection of Jesus is its first manifestation.

The Resurrection of Jesus is not in the past, for if it were Jesus would not have conquered our death. […] [T]he death of Jesus was by its nature the death of death. But the event wherein death was put to death cannot belong to the past, for then death would not have been conquered. […] The hour on which the desire of Jesus was focused “has come, and we are in it” forever; the event that is the Cross and Resurrection does not pass away.

More than that, it is the only true event in all of history. All other events are dead and will always be dead; this one alone remains.

The hour in which the Word with a loud cry handed over his Breath of love so that men might live is no longer in the past; it is, it abides, it lives on through history and sustains it.

This unprecedented power that the river of life exercises in the humanity of the risen Christ—that is the liturgy! In it all the promises of the Father find their fulfillment (Acts 13:32). Since that moment the communion of the Blessed Trinity has ceaselessly been spreading throughout our world and flooding our time with its fullness. Henceforth the economy of salvation takes the form of liturgy.

--Fr. Jean Corbon, OP, The Wellspring of Worship

Thursday, April 16, 2009

He Makes All Things New Again

And he who sat upon the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new."
(Rev. 21.5)

He has brought total newness by bringing himself.
--Saint Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses

He was going to inherit a world already made,
And yet he was going to remake it entirely.
--Charles Peguy

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Feeling the Light of the Risen Son

Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief.

I needed blood to tell me the truth,
the touch of blood. Even
my sight of the dark crust of it round the nailholes
didn't thrust its meaning all the way through to that manifold knot in me
that willed to possess all knowledge, refusing to loosen
unless that insistence won the battle I fought with life.

But when my hand led by His hand's firm clasp
entered the unhealed wound, my fingers encountering
rib-bone and pulsing heat, what I felt was not
scalding pain, shame for my obstinate need,
but light, light straming into me, over me, filling the room
as if I had lived till then in a cold cave, and now
coming forth for the first time, the knot that bound me unravelling,
I witnessed all things quicken to color, to form,
my question not answered but given its part
in a vast unfolding design lit by a risen sun.

--Denise Levertov, "St. Thomas Didymus"

Dominus Meus et Deus Meus : My Lord and My God

Thomas, you have plunged your finger into my open Heart.
--Hans Urs von Balthasar
The wound of the body also reveals the spiritual wound. ...
Let us look through the visible wound to the invisible wound of love.

--St. Bonaventure, Mystical Vine

Where did I triumph if not on the Cross? Are you as blind as the Jews and the pagans to think that Golgotha was my downfall and my failure? … Look: this is my secret, and there is no other in heaven or on earth: My Cross is salvation, my Death is victory, my Darkness is light. At that time, when I hung in torment and dread rushed into my soul because of the forsakenness, rejectedness, uselessness of my suffering, and all was gloomy, and only the seething rage of that mass of teeth hissed up mockingly at me, while heaven kept silence, shut tight as the mouth of a scoffer (but through the open gates of my hands and feet my blood bubbled out in spurts, and with each throb my Heart became more desolate, strength poured out from me in streams and there remained only faintness, death’s fatigue, infinite failure), and at last I neared that mysterious and final spot on the very edge of being, and then—the fall into the void, the capsizing into the bottomless abyss, the vertigo, the finale, the un-becoming: that colossal death which only I have died. Through my death this has been spared you, and no one will ever experience what it really means to die: This was my victory.

Haven’t I told you that if the grain of seed falls into the ground and dies it bears much fruit?

Of whom was I thinking when, as a freezing child, I lay in the crib, if not of you? Of what did I speak in the splendor of Tabor with Moses and Elias, if not of my suffering for you? For whom did I ask the Father for signs, if not for you? For whose sake did I stumble my way through fourteen endless stations, if not for yours? And my divinity and the embrace of my Father: for whom did I leave these if not for you? You want to follow me? You want to be called my disciples? Then let that mind be yours which animated me: being God in my very substance, I did not cling to my equality with God, but rather emptied and annulled myself. I took on the figure of a slave, becoming wholly like men and descending below myself in men’s everyday appearance, in bondage unto death, unto death on the Cross.

For to be God was not enough for me. … I wanted to prove my divinity to you in no way other than by letting go of it in order to become your slave.

[T]he most divine thing about God (and to show this was my whole concern): God was free enough to give himself up. … This was his self-sufficiency: that he began to hunger and to thirst and that, in the person of his members, he suffered every sort of poverty and disgrace and imprisonment and nakedness and disease. This, my brothers, was his victory: that I was able to defeat even my divinity and that in the slave’s form I was able to manifest the Lord, and in sin’s likeness the essence of love. That, being outside of God, I knew how to be in God. That I became all in everything I was not.

Understand what it means to give oneself away. To strip oneself of one’s freedom out of freedom; and out of love, no longer to be free or to be lord over oneself; no longer to be able to determine where the journey will take you; to surrender oneself, to deliver oneself over to the series of consequences that carry us off in a direction we did not want—where to? You leap down from a high cliff. The leap is freely made, and yet, the moment you leap, gravity leaps upon you, and you tumble exactly like a dead stone to the very bottom of the gorge. This is how I decided to give myself. To give myself right out of my hand. To whom? It did not matter. To sin, to the world, to all of you, to the devil, to the Church, to the kingdom of Heaven, to the Father … I wanted to be the one given away par excellence. The corpse over which the vultures gather. The Consumed, the Eaten, the Drunk, the Spilled, the Poured Out. The Plaything. The Worn Out. The one squeezed to the very dregs. The one trod upon to infinity. The one run over. The one thinned to air. The one liquified into an ocean. The Dissolved. This was the plan; this was the will of the Father. By fulfilling it through obedience (the fulfillment itself was obedience), I have filled the world from heaven down to hell, and every knee must bend before me, and all tongues must confess me. Now I am all in all, and this is why the death which poured me out is my victory. My descent, my vertiginous collapse, my going under (under myself) into everything that was foreign and contrary to God—down into the underworld: this was the ascent of this world into me, into God. My victory.

Thomas, you have plunged your finger into my open Heart.

The wound of the body also reveals the spiritual wound. ...
Let us look through the visible wound to the invisible wound of love.

--St. Bonaventure

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Event of Emmaus : Word and Sacrament

[H]ere too he [Christ] remains unrecognizable to the accustomed eye. … [H]e sets the hearts of the two wanderers aflame by his interpretation of the Scriptures and by breaking bread he opens their eyes. This is a reference to the two basic elements in early Christian worship, which consisted of the liturgy of the word (the reading and expounding of Scripture) and the eucharistic breaking of bread. In this way the evangelist makes it clear that the encounter with the risen Christ lies on a quite new plane; he tries to describe the indescribable in terms of the liturgical facts. He thereby provides both a theology of the resurrection and a theology of the liturgy: one encounters the risen Christ in the word and in the sacrament; divine service is the fashion in which he becomes touchable to us and recognizable as the living Christ. And conversely, the liturgy is based on the mystery of Easter; it is to be understood as the Lord’s approach to us. In it he becomes our travelling companion, sets our dull hearts aflame and opens our sealed eyes. He still walks with us, still finds us worried and downhearted, and still has the power to make us see.

Experience of the risen Christ is something other than a meeting with a historical man, and it must certainly not be traced back to conversations at table and recollections which would have finally crystallized in the idea that he still lived and went about his business. Such an interpretation reduces what happened to the purely human level and robs it of its specific quality. The resurrection narratives are something other and more than disguised liturgical scenes; they make visible the founding event on which all Christian liturgy rests. They testify to an approach which did not rise from the hearts of the disciples but came to them from outside, convinced them against their doubts and made them certain that the Lord had truly risen. He who lay in the grave is no longer there; he—really he himself—lives. He who had been transposed into the other world of God showed himself powerful enough to make it palpably clear that he himself stood opposite them again, that in him the power of love had really proved itself stronger than the power of death.

The comfortable attempt to spare oneself the belief in the mystery of God’s mighty actions in this world and yet at the same time to have the satisfaction of remaining on the foundation of the biblical message leads nowhere; it measures up neither to the honesty of reason nor to the claims of faith. One cannot have both the Christian faith and “religion within the bounds of pure reason”; a choice is unavoidable. He who believes will see more and more clearly, it is true, how rational it is to have faith in the love that has conquered death.

--Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)

Top icon written by Sister Marie-Paul. Bottom icon by Nicholas Papas.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Empty Tomb

When Mary Magdalen came to the tomb and did not find the Lord's body, she thought it had been taken away and so informed the disciples.

After they came and saw the tomb, they too believed what Mary had told them. The text then says: "The disciples went back home," and it adds: "but Mary wept and remained standing outside the tomb."

We should reflect on Mary's attitude and the great love she felt for Christ; for though the disciples had left the tomb, she remained. She was still seeking the one she had not found, and while she sought she wept; burning with the fire of love, she longed for him who she thought had been taken away. And so it happened that the woman who stayed behind to seek Christ was the only one to see him. For perseverance is essential to any good deed, as the voice of truth tell us: "Whoever perseveres to the end will be saved."
--St. Gregory the Great

The Risen SON : Easter Sunday

Christos Anesti!

"I did not make you for the dungeon." In this Easter hour let us ask the Lord to visit the dungeons of this world; ... Let us ask him to enter into the spiritual prisons of this age, into the darkness of our lack of truth, revealing himself as the Victor who tears down the gates and says to us, "I, your God, have become your Son. Come out! I have not created you to be in prison for ever. I did not make you for the dungeon." In his play No Exit Jean Paul Sartre portrays man as a being who is hopelessly trapped. He sums up his gloomy picture of man in the words, "Hell is other people". This being so, hell is everywhere, and there is no exit, the doors are everywhere closed.

Christ, however, says to us, "I, your God, have become your Son. Come out!" Now the exact opposite is true: heaven is other people. Christ summons us to find heaven in him, to discover him in others and thus to be heaven to each other. He calls us to let heaven shine into this world, to build heaven here. Jesus stretches out his hand to us in his Easter message, in the mystery of the sacraments, so that Easter may be now, so that the light of heaven may shine forth in this world and the doors may be opened. Let us take his hand! Amen.

--Joseph Ratzinger (Pope BenedictXVI)

Alithos Anesti!


Only since Easter can we really utter the first article of faith; only on the basis of Easter is this profession rich and full of consolation: I believe in God, the Father Almighty. For it is only from the Lamb that we know that God is really Father, really Almighty.

This greatest festival of the Church's year encourages us, by looking at him who was slain and is risen, to discover the place where heaven is opened. If we comprehend the message of the Resurrection, we recognize that heaven is not completely sealed off above the earth. Then--gently and yet with immense power--something of the light of God penetrates our life. Then we shall feel the surge of joy ....
--Joseph Ratzinger (Pope BenedictXVI)

Christos Anesti!

The Son Is Rising

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (Jn 1:5)

Easter is concerned with something unimaginable. Initially the event of Easter comes to us solely through the word, not through the senses. So it is all the more important for us to be won over by the immensity of this word. Since, however, we can only think by employing sense images, the faith of the Church has always translated the Easter message into symbols which point to things that the word cannot express. The symbol of light ... plays a special part; the praise of the Paschal candle--a symbol of life in the midst of the darkened church--is actually a praise of him who proved victor over death. Thus the event of long ago is translated into our present time: where light conquers darkness, something of the Resurrection takes place.

--Joseph Ratzinger (Pope BenedictXVI)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Arise from the Dead

Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light. I have not created you to be in prison forever. I did not make you for the dungeon.