March 28, 2015

Finding Ourselves

Gregory of Nazianzus is beautiful in the Office of Readings today:
If you are a Simon of Cyrene, take up your cross and follow Christ. If you are crucified beside him like one of the thieves, now, like the good thief, acknowledge your God. For your sake, and because of your sin, Christ himself was regarded as a sinner; for his sake, therefore, you must cease to sin. Worship him who was hung on the cross because of you, even if you are hanging there yourself. Derive some benefit from the very shame; purchase salvation with your death. Enter paradise with Jesus, and discover how far you have fallen. Contemplate the glories there, and leave the other scoffing thief to die outside in his blasphemy. 
If you are a Joseph of Arimathea, go to the one who ordered his crucifixion, and ask for Christ’s body. Make your own the expiation for the sins of the whole world. If you are a Nicodemus, like the man who worshipped God by night, bring spices and prepare Christ’s body for burial. If you are one of the Marys, or Salome, or Joanna, weep in the early morning. Be the first to see the stone rolled back, and even the angels perhaps, and Jesus himself.
The journey in the Spirit is all about finding ourselves in the mystery; entering into the whole Mystery of Jesus Christ--his birth, life, teaching, suffering, death, and resurrection--and within it finding our own truest humanity, the selves that are created by God, letting go of the masks that we wear in our fear and the miserable habits we have learned in our error, both of which we have come to confuse with 'myself.'

We confess easily enough that Jesus Christ reveals the Father, but we must also remember that in him is also revealed created humanity and in that humanity, who we really are.

March 22, 2015

Salvation

The mini-season of Passiontide isn't explicit in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, but it is there. On the Fifth Sunday of Lent the readings for Mass shift toward the Passion. The Letter to the Hebrews, with its emphasis on sacrifice and the priesthood of Jesus Christ, begins in the Office of Readings.

Hebrews 2:3 caught my reflection this morning.

how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?

For the 'ignore' that the New American Bible offers, the Italian breviary has the verb trascurare, a word I have used in confession for something I have neglected or overlooked, something I ought to have done but have not. The original verb is ameleĆ³, which the dictionary tells me means 'to neglect' or 'to disregard.'

How shall we escape if we disregard so great a salvation?

I am grateful to be reminded today that the salvation we have in Jesus Christ is something that is ours to neglect or disregard. That is to say it is not something that is ours to obtain or attain to. It is freely lavished on our humanity through the humanity of Christ, if only we surrender to it and consent to receive it.

Of course, given our attachments and our concupiscence, this is not as easy as it seems. It is furthermore not so easy because it is a consent and a surrender that must be made each day, and will also include the suffering of giving ourselves for the sake of the salvation in Christ of others, those God gives to us in our lives, and of the poor. Without becoming a vehicle for salvation, we have not been saved. This is the mystery of the Cross as it takes shape in the journey of each baptized person, and without the Cross there is no Resurrection.

March 19, 2015

Feast of St. Joseph

It's the feast of my confirmation saint and special patron.

The solemnity of St. Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who, a just man, coming from the stock of David, was in loco parentis for Jesus Christ the Son of God, who willed to be called the son of Joseph and was obedient to him as a son to a father. The Church honors him as a special patron, whom God established at the head of his family. (Roman Martyrology)

Pray for us!

March 15, 2015

Get Up, Lazy

Just some thoughts for Laetare Sunday. Rejoice, Jerusalem, and come together, all you who love her.

If we haven't done so well with Lent so far, St. Augustine, in the Office of Readings today, reminds us that there is still time:

Get up, lazy! The Way himself has come to you and roused you from sleep; if then you have been roused, get up and walk.

We still have time to make something of our Lent. On this day especially we remember that rejoicing in the Lord is our strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)

The end of the second reading at Mass (if we're using Year B) from Ephesians also comes to our help in this regard, reminding us that the good works of our Lent are not our own:

For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

The 'good works' have been prepared in advance. And what is this? It is the one good work that is the passing of Jesus Christ from death to life. In Holy Communion we receive this Passover of the Lord into our bodies and into our lives. The passage from the misery of sin that we have insisted upon for ourselves and one another to the life of the new creation has come to make a dwelling in us and its power has become available to us, that we may be transformed in it and surrender to God's work of transforming the world through us as members of Christ's Resurrected Body.

This is what it means for us to be the Church of God, that we may we live in the work of salvation God has prepared and accomplished in Jesus Christ.

March 9, 2015

Aggiornamento

From the Philokalia:

The fathers ... kept the commandments; their successors wrote them down; but we have placed their books on the shelves.

Overheard on retreat:

In the old days, when a friar arrived at a friary for the first time, the first thing he asked was, 'where's the chapel?' Then it was, 'where's the refectory?' Now it's, 'what's the password for the wifi?

March 7, 2015

Theses on the Parable of the Lost Son

(Luke 15: 11-32)

Those who deny, ignore, or hate God are still happy to make use of the good things he has given them. In fact, we all fall into this error because we have all made use of or enjoyed created things without putting them in their proper context as things created by God. And this is what we call sin.

Sin is a sort of death. Repentance is a participation in the Resurrection.

We tend to think of repentance as a returning to God, but it is more properly a 'coming to our senses,' a 'coming back to ourselves' that puts us back in touch with our most real and best selves, the selves that recognize the God who is always arriving in order to meet us.

The confession of the sins that have separated us from God's embrace is only of interest to him insofar as it is the means by which we accept that embrace anew.

It is just as easy for 'religious' people to lose their sense of God's goodness as it is for 'sinners.' Perhaps it's even easier in some cases. This is because righteous people easily forget that they are just as much sinners as are the 'sinners,' because all sin is overwhelmingly offensive before the infinite loving-kindness of God. It is also because righteous people sometimes don't recognize--and confess--how much of their religion is of the flesh. Helpfully, however, this latter condition is revealed by the emotion of resentment that arises at the gifts God gives to another, and in this it can be recognized and perhaps mortified.

March 2, 2015

The Breadth of Obedience

I just think this is a remarkable passage and so I wanted to post it:
Whatever good a brother may do with a right intention and on his own initiative is also true obedience when he knows that this is not contrary to the will of the superior or detrimental to brotherly unity. (Capuchin Constitutions, 166, 2)
It calls St. Francis himself to mind:
In whatever way it seems better to you to please the Lord God and to follow his footprint and poverty, do it with the blessing of the Lord God and my obedience. (Letter to Brother Leo)