Tag Archives: Easter

Christ’s resurrection means that now our humanity is elevated to the divine

Addressing all Christians through the mouth of Saint Paul, the Spirit cries out: “If you have risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1).

Resurrection, Giotto.jpg

For all its brevity, that sentence contains the most amazing assertion. In effect, it signifies not only that Christ has risen and that we ourselves shall one day rise with him, but that we have already risen with Christ through our baptism. The whole mystery of what it is to be a Christian subsists in that statement. Apparently, our human condition remains unchanged; yet Christ’s resurrection has already accomplished its transforming work in the hidden world of our souls. Christians are now only waiting for the outward manifestation of what has already been achieved in Christ. Saint Paul, in fact, goes on to say: “Your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you too will be revealed with him in glory” (Colossians 3:3-4).

The resurrection, therefore, means that here and now our humanity is elevated to the inaccessible realm of the divine. The resurrection is the Good News par excellence, the glorious destiny, far above its own nature, to which the Father’s love has called the human race in his only Son through the gift of the Spirit.

All this only possible through the action of God. In Christ, God comes down to us, takes our carnal nature, and raises it above itself in order to carry it into the intimate presence of the Father, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.

Thus the resurrection of Christ constitutes the first-fruits of our own resurrection. With Christ, part of our humanity is already taken up into the abyss of the Godhead. According to the metaphor employed by the writer to the Hebrews, Christ is like an anchor, which instead of being let down in the depths of the sea, is cast up into the heights of heaven (cf. Hebrews 6:19). He is the guarantee of our hope, because that hope has already been fulfilled in him.

Jean Cardinal Danielou, S.J. (1905-1974)

Ascension Sequence: Postquam hostem et inferna

Ascension LMonaco Antiphonary.jpgOne of my missions in life is to help restore the use of liturgical sequences and the observance of octaves. The Liturgy of the Church is not only and primarily the worship of the Triune God but it also passes down to us what we believe and teaches us how to live. Well, I am not unique in wanting the restoration of sequences and octaves as others have similar ambitions. Care to join the “restore the sequence” effort? My friend Friar Charles at A Minor Friar reminded me of this work and he gives needed encouragement

Many of the sequences were excised, really abolished, from the Missal in the years following the Council of Trent and they were further reduced in number with the Missal of Paul VI. The 16th century redaction of the sequences seems to be based on Protestant criticism of medieval exegesis of Scripture and poetry in the Liturgy (sound familiar?). The Missal of Pope Paul made too many things optional and gave too many options; as you know, when human beings make things optional they become proscribed. Sadly, sequences are not in the liturgical framework of priests, liturgists or liturgical musicians; they’re barely on the agenda of seminary courses in sacred Liturgy. Even the patrimony of the religious orders have no interest in liturgical poems of their venerable founders.

The Solemnity of the Ascension had a sequence –a liturgical poem set to music– but it was jettisoned in the revision of the missal written by Adam of St Victor in the 12th century (d. c. 1177). Some have said that Adam of St Victor was the greatest poet of the Middle Ages (Gueranger) and the greatest Latin poet ever (John M. Neale). This is quite a claim  of Digby S. Wrangham to make, but I’ll leave it to others to parse the distinctions. Wrangham’s collection of Adam’s texts is noteworthy.

Adam of St Victor’s text was translated into English by Digby S. Wrangham (which follows):

Postquam hostem et inferna                    Satan and the realms
infernal 

Spoliavit, ad superna                               Having spoiled, to joys supernal

Christus redit
gaudia;                              Christ returneth back once more:
Angelorum ascendenti                            As His upward way
he wendeth,
Sicut olim descendenti                            As before, when he descendeth,
Parantur
obsequia.                                  Angels set them to adore.

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Ascension of the Lord


Ascension HSuess.jpg

“He in fact came
to the world to bring men back to God, not on the level of ideas – like a
philosopher or master of wisdom – but really, as a shepherd who wants to lead
his sheep back to the fold . . . It is for us that he came down from Heaven,
and it is for us that he ascended there after making himself like men in all
things, humiliated to the point of death on the cross, and after touching the
abyss of the greatest separation from God”. 

“And what does man need more in
every age if not this: a solid anchoring for his existence? After the Ascension
the first disciples remained gathered together in the Cenacle around the Mother
of Jesus, in fervent expectation of the gift of the Holy Spirit, promised by
Jesus (cf. Acts 1:14)…. [this divine invitation is offered to us] “to remain
united together in prayer, to invoke the gift of the Holy Spirit. In fact, only
to those who ‘are born again from above,'”, that is, of the born of the Holy
Spirit.

Pope Benedict XVI, Ascension, 2008

Our hearts are burning within us

Emmaus Supper Velazquez.jpg

“I saw the Lord ever before me, with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed. Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted; my flesh, too, will dwell in hope…”

Benedict: to awaken hope in place of despair, joy in place of sadness, & life in place of death

Holy Saturday Baptism.jpgIn these first days of Easter the Church rejoices in
Christ’s resurrection from the dead, which has brought new life to us and to
our world. Saint Paul exhorts us to make this new life evident by putting to
death the things of this earth and setting our hearts on the things that are on
high, where Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father (cf. Col 3:1-2).
Having put on Christ in Baptism, we are called to be renewed daily in the
virtues which he taught us, especially charity which binds all the rest together
in perfect harmony
. By living this new life we are not only interiorly
transformed, but we also change the world around us. Charity in fact brings
that spiritual freedom which can break down any wall, and build a new world of
solidarity, goodness and respect for the dignity of all. Easter, then, is a
gift to be received ever anew in faith, so that we may become a constant leaven
of life, justice and reconciliation in our world
. As believers in the risen
Lord, this is our mission: to awaken hope in place of despair, joy in place of
sadness, and life in place of death.
With Christ, through him and in him, let
us strive to make all things new!


Pope Benedict XVI
Summary of Wednesday General Audience

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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