Always Topical

27.04.2012

The Church herself is a field, within which seeds and weeds, the good and the wicked, grow together, a place where there is room to grow, to be converted and above all to imitate God’s patience. The wicked exist in this world either to be converted or that through them the good may exercise patience.

ST. AUGUSTINE

Detachment and Humility

25.04.2012

In detachment, the spirit finds quiet and repose for coveting nothing. Nothing wearies it by elation, and nothing oppresses it by dejection, because it stands in the center of its own humility.

ST. JOHN OF THE CROSS, OCD

A Beatific Vision

24.04.2012

Upon that day faces shall be radiant, gazing upon their Lord

Quran 75:22–23

Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu,
Buddhist, sufi, or zen. Not any religion
or cultural system. I am not from East
or the West, not out of the ocean or up
from the ground, not natural or ethereal, not
composed of elements at all. I do not exist,
am not an entity in this world or the next,
did not descend from Adam and Eve or any
origin story. My place is placeless, a trace
of the traceless. Neither body or soul.

I belong to the beloved, have seen the two
worlds as one and that one call to and know,
first, last, outer, inner, only that
breath breathing human being.

JALAL AD-DIN MUHAMMAD RUMI

The Reality of the Resurrection

23.04.2012

What is the Resurrection of Christ? The best answer is: we do not know. It is something that we cannot fully comprehend. This does not mean that we cannot think and talk about it. Whatever the Resurrection is, it has nothing to do with the restoration of life to Jesus’ corpse. The resurrected Christ is not a zombie.

After Jesus’ bodily death on the Cross, the apostles gathered and he “came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’” (Jn 20:19). “[H]e was made known to them in the breaking of the bread” (Lk 24:35). That is, he stands among us, his followers, especially when we celebrate the Eucharist. This is why Michel Quoist speaks about Christ’s resurrected body as being, in a very concrete way, the bodies of the members of this community that we call Church who act out of love towards every person. All of humanity has a place in the Church. It is not a club, but a brotherhood founded on a universal kinship. The Gospels make clear that, as the Dominican Herbert McCabe writes, “Christ is present to us in so far as we are present to each other.”[1]

I leave you with mediations from two great Catholic theologians on the real dimension of the Resurrection, the Jesuit Karl Rahner and Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. They write bearing in mind that ultimately we do not possess the language to talk about it, but that our faith and reason demand that we keep trying:

[W]e should achieve for ourselves a clear understanding of what really can be meant in theological terms by resurrection. The moment we picture to ourselves a dead man returning once more into our temporal dimension, with the biological conditions belonging to it, we have conceived of something which has nothing whatever to do with the Resurrection of Jesus, and which cannot have any significance for our salvation either. In fact to say that any individual has risen from the dead must be precisely tantamount to saying: “This man in this fate of his which seems so absolutely negative, has in a true sense, as himself, and together with his history, really attained God.” What it does not say, however, is this: “He has once more extricated himself from the process of death, and is once more there on the same plane as ourselves.”[2]

To the Christian, faith in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is an expression of certainty that the saying that seems to be only a beautiful dream is in fact true: “Love is strong as death” (Sg 8:6). In the Old Testament this sentence comes in the middle of praises of the power of eros. But this by no means signifies that we can simply push it aside as a lyrical exaggeration. The boundless demands of eros, its apparent exaggerations and extravagance, do in reality give expression to a basic problem, indeed the basic problem of human existence, insofar as they reflect the nature and intrinsic paradox of love: love demands infinity, indestructibility; indeed, it is, so to speak, a call for infinity. But it is also a fact that this cry of love’s cannot be satisfied, that it demands infinity but cannot grant it; that it claims eternity but in fact is included in the world of death, in its loneliness and its power of destruction. Only from this angle can one understand what “resurrection” means. It is the greater strength of love in face of death.

[...]

But what has all this to do, it may be asked, with faith in the Resurrection of Jesus? Well, we previously considered the question of the possible immortality of man from two sides, which now turn out to be aspects of one and the same state of affairs. We said that, as man has no permanence in himself, his survival could only be brought about by his living on in another. And we said, from the point of view of this “other”, that only the love that takes up the beloved in itself, into its own being, could make possible this existence in the other. These two complementary aspects are mirrored again, so it seems to me, in the two New Testament ways of describing the Resurrection of the Lord: “Jesus has risen” and “God (the Father) has awakened Jesus.” The two formulas meet in the fact that Jesus’ total love for men, which leads him to the Cross, is perfected in totally passing beyond to the Father and therein becomes stronger than death, because in this it is at the same time total “being held” by him.

From this a further step results. We can now say that love always establishes some kind of immortality; even in its prehuman stage, it points, in the form of preservation of the species, in this direction. Indeed, this founding of immortality is not something incidental to love, not one thing that it does among others, but what really gives it its specific character. This principle can be reversed; it then signifies that immortality always proceeds from love, never out of the autarchy of that which is sufficient to itself. We may even be bold enough to assert that this principle, properly understood, also applies even to God as he is seen by the Christian faith. God, too, is absolute permanence, as opposed to everything transitory, for the reason that he is the relation of three Persons to one another, their incorporation in the "for one another” of love, act-substance of the love that is absolute and therefore completely “relative”, living only “in relation to”. As we said earlier, it is not autarchy, which knows no one but itself, that is divine; what is revolutionary about the Christian view of the world and of God, we found, as opposed to those of antiquity, is that it learns to understand the “absolute” as absolute “relatedness”, as relatio subsistens.

To return to our argument, love is the foundation of immortality, and immortality proceeds from love alone. This statement to which we have now worked our way also means that he who has love for all has established immortality for all. That is precisely the meaning of the biblical statement that his Resurrection is our life.[3]
______________________

[1] Herbert McCabe, OP, The New Creation (New York, NY: Continuum, 2010), p. xi.

[2] Karl Rahner, SJ, Theological Investigations, Vol. XI: Confrontations (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1974), pp. 207-8.

[3] Joseph Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity [1968], trans. J. R. Foster (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), pp. 301-2 and 305-6.

This Very Moment

13.04.2012

This very moment I may, if I desire, become the friend of God.

ST. AUGUSTINE

Ressurreição

08.04.2012

Ressuscitou, o Cristo está vivo!

Porque o buscais no meio dos mortos?

Ressuscitou como disse!

Aleluia!

Paixão

06.04.2012

Permanece junto de mim.

Ora e vigia.