Tag Archives: Christology

Christ, the life of the Church

Are you thinking about the Transfiguration yet? You know, tomorrow’s feast. I think an excerpt from Samuel H. Miller’s The Life of the Church (p. 44ff) gets me pondering the person of Christ and who I want to be. And you?

He was careless about himself, we are careful.
He was courageous, we are cautious.
He trusted the untrustworthy, we trust those who have good collateral.
He forgave the unforgiveable, we forgive those who do not really hurt us.
He was righteous and laughed at respectability, we are respectable and smile at righteousness.
He was meek, we are ambitious.
He saved others, we save ourselves as much as we can.
He had no place to lay his head and did not worry about it, while we fret because we do not have the latest convenience manufactured by clever science.
He did what he believed to be right regardless of consequences, while we determine what is right by how it will affect us.
He feared God but not the world, we fear public opinion more than we fear the judgment of God.
He risked everything for God, we make religion a refuge for every risk.
He took up the cross, we neither take it up nor lay it down, but merely let it stand.
He was a scandal to the Jews proud of their tradition, a scandal to the scribes proud of the law, a scandal to the priests proud of the temple, scandal to his family proud of respectability, a scandal to the disciples proud of their ambitions.

Jesus is the victor because He’s the victim, Cantalamessa reminds us on Good Friday

Cantalamessa.jpgThe official preacher to the pope, but not an official of the Holy See, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preached this homily to the Holy Father (and thus to the world) at the Good Friday Service. The preacher’s has received much criticism –VERY unfairly in my opinion if you read what he said– from the secular world, from Catholics who live on the margins of the Faith and others like the Jews for the points of comparisons made therein. It is not a perfect text and nor is it prudent in some places, but it needs to be engaged with faith and reason and not broken into pieces and read out of context. Read the text!!! The problem is that the sound bites we receive from the media become the only criteria of assessing whether something is good, worthy or acceptable for consumption whereas reason would want to hear the whole thing, even to re-read what was said before making foolish comments. Does the imperfect always mean bad? Father Cantalmessa is an evocative and provocative thinker and preacher. I think he deserves a fair hearing without the spin given in the media.

Father Raniero’s homily can be read here Good Friday homily 2010.pdf.

Exaltation of the Holy Cross


Cross, San Francesco, Arezzo.jpg

God the Father has exalted

Jesus Christ, the Lord of all,

Who has emptied self of glory,

Took our human nature’s thrall;

In obedience, He was humbled

Taking even cross and death;

Now creation shouts in wonder

“Christ is Lord” with ev’ry breath!

As the Cross is boldly
lifted

And the faithful now embrace

What was once a thing so shameful,

Now the hope of all our race,

Let us, marked with Cross, and
baptized,

Shout this news throughout the earth:

Through the Cross, our God has conquered!

Through it, come to His new birth!

87.87. D, no tune
suggested

James Michael Thompson, (c) 2009, World Library Publications

The spirituality of Holy Saturday

There was a day when Nietzsche was right: God was dead, the Word was not heard in the world, the body was interred and the tomb sealed up, the soul descended into the bottomless abyss of Sheol.” This descent of Jesus into the kingdom of the dead “was part of his abasement even if (as St. John admits of the Cross) this supreme abasement is already surrounded by the thunderbolts of Easter night. In fact, did not the very descent to hell bring redemption to the souls there?” It prolonged in some manner the cry from the Cross: Why have you abandoned me? “Nobody could ever shout that cry from a deeper abyss than did he whose life was to be perpetually born of the Father.”

Descent into Hell Duccio.jpgBut there remains the imitation of Christ. There is a participation, not only sacramental, but contemplative in his mystery. There is an experience of the abandonment on the Cross and the descent into hell, and experience of the poena damni. There is the crushing feeling of the “ever greater dissimilarity” of God in the resemblance, however great, between him and the creature; there is the passage through death and darkness, the stepping through “the somber door”. In conformity to the mission he has received, the prayerful man then experiences the feeling that “God is dead for him”. And this is a gift of Christian grace — but one receives it unawares. The lived and felt faith, charity, and hope rise above the soul to an inaccessible place, to God. From then on it is “in nakedness, poverty and humiliation” that the soul cries out to him.

Those who have experienced such states afterwards, more often than not, in their humility, see nothing in them but a personal purification. True to his doctrine which refuses to separate charisms and gifts of the Holy Spirit, the ecclesial mission, and individual mysticism, von Balthasar discerns in it essentially this “Holy Saturday of contemplation” by which the Betrothed, in some chosen few of her members, is made to participate more closely in the redemption wrought by the Spouse. We have arrived at a time in history when human consciousness, enlarged and deepened by Christianity, inclines more and more to this interpretation.

The somber experience of Holy Saturday is the price to be paid for the dawn of the new spring of hope, this spring which has been “canonized in the rose garden of Lisieux”: “is it not the beginning of a new creation? The magic of Holy Saturday … Deep cave from which the water of life escapes.”

Reading so many passages where this theme is taken up, we discern a distress, a solitude, a night — of the quality, in fact, as that experienced by “the Heart of the world” — and we understand that a work that communicates so full a joy must have been conceived in that sorrow.

Cardinal Henri de Lubac on the work of Cardinal Hans Urs von Balthasar

Father, into your hands I commend my spirit

“I called to the Lord, out of my distress,

Crucifixion Velaquez.jpgand he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and thou didst hear my voice. For thou didst cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood was round about me; all thy waves and thy billows passed over me. Then I said, ‘I am cast out from thy presence; how shall I again look upon thy holy temple?’

The waters closed in over me, the deep was round about me; weeds were wrapped about my head at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me for ever; yet thou didst bring up my life from the Pit, O Lord my God.

When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord; and my prayer came to thee, into thy holy temple. Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their true loyalty. But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to thee; what I have vowed I will pay. Deliverance belongs to the Lord!”
(Jonah 2:1-9)

There was darkness over the whole land…while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” [Luke 23:44b-46a]

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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