Friday, April 13, 2012

Pray for a Great Mercy

On April 15th, now known as Divine Mercy Sunday in the Ordinary Form Church, the Society of Saint Pius X, long laboring in irregular circumstances regarding canonical status, is due to make a final reply to Rome on the subject of doctrinal differences.  The doctrines in question are found in Vatican II, pertaining to Ecumenism, the nature of the Church, religious liberty, and the doctrine on congeniality (Church governance).  The SSPX claims that these doctrines conflict with prior, well-established doctrines of the ordinary and extraordinary Magisterium.  For a fuller report, please go to Sandro Magister's column on Chiesa.  If these main differences can be reconciled, there is great hope that a major portion of the group may return to full unity with Rome, a consumation devoutly to be wished.  May the God of Mercies grant that this come to pass, on this approaching Sunday, the Sunday of Divine Mercy.  St. Thomas, St. Faustina, and all God's Angels and Saints, pray for us. 


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Why Couldn't the Disciples Recognize Christ?

On "Seeing" Our Lord

     After listening to two homilies on the subject of recognizing Our Lord post-Resurrection, I realized that there was a wealth of details to draw out of this interesting phenomenon.  Here are a few of the thoughts that have occurred to me so far:
     First, that the disciples and Apostles exhibit a need to "see" Our Lord.  Peter and John run to the tomb to see, Mary Magdalene and Thomas have to see, even to touch Our Lord. Seeing Christ is incredibly important throughout the Gospels, even all of Scripture.  Simeon's words come to mind: "Now dismiss your servant Lord ... because my eyes have seen Your Salvation", as do the words of the beggar Bartimaeus: "Lord that I may see."  After the devastation of the Passion and Death of Our Lord, the disciples needed to see His resurrection.  Yet paradoxically, they cannot see Him, at least at first.
    Unlike Lazarus, or the daughter of Jairus, or the widow of Naim's son, Our Lord was not recognized by those who encountered him after His Resurrection.  Why was this?  The common understanding is, that when He arose from the Dead, Jesus' body was glorified and no longer subject to the conditions of mere earthly existence.  The Gospels describe this in the various appearances He makes post-Resurrection.  Our Lord walks through walls and doors, appears instantly in locations far apart, and appears to undergo no bodily suffering.  He does eat (a whole monogram's worth of discussion, there), but seemingly more to prove His physicality than to satiate His hunger.  The Glorified Body of Our Lord is thus the means by which He gradually reveals Himself to the disciples after Easter.  These revelations bear significance, such as at Emmaus--with the breaking of the bread--or to Mary Magdalene, in the guise of a gardener (this recalls the Garden of Eden, the suffering servant of Isiah, etc).  This seeing or coming to see Jesus is really a coming to understand Jesus, the fulfillment of the Covenant; Jesus was the fulfillment of the Covenant, and our seeing him is the fulfillment, since as He Himself says: this is eternal life: That they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:4)   The disciples' desire to see and know Our Lord is our own desire, our own need, which we must seek to fulfill.
    The fulfillment of the desire to see can perhaps be understood when we look at the orders of Grace and Nature.  One of the most essential aspects of our Catholic Faith revolves around the dual order of Grace and Nature, found in each one of us.  We all have the nature of human-ness, and the calling to grace, that is, a participation in the life of God, by which we are made His Sons and Daughers, truly divinized.  This Life consists of the seeing and loving of God, which ability and vision He gives by Sanctifying Grace. 
    Now, the problem for the disciples, is that they have not yet been confirmed in grace, and they cannot yet utilize the graces God had bestowed in His Son; they had to wait until Pentecost.  The disciples could not see with God's eyes, and thus could not see God Himself, Our Lord Jesus Christ, once He no longer was limited to His prior human mode of existing (in terms of His human nature, of course).  Once confirmed in Faith at Pentecost, the disciples had the confidence of the theological Virtue of Faith, and could share that Faith.  But here's the difficult part: we are like the disciples and Apostles, even with the Life of Grace.  The disciples had had the gift of seeing our Lord in his daily ministry over three years, and that carried them through the time of separation (A little while and you shall not see Me, and again a little while and you shall see Me.)
    This difficulty, then, shows how we are to approach "seeing" Christ.  If we are to be able to live a life of Faith, and see Our Lord, we have to do two things.  We have to live a life of grace, the Sacraments.  Yet, Our Lord remains veiled here, and we cannot "see" Him in the way the disciples did.  Thus, as a first step, yet also as an ongoing step, we must do all we can to make Our Lord present to us, we must live the Gospels, as if He were once again among us.  If faith builds on reason, then Our supernatural knowledge of Jesus Christ will build on a proper human understanding of Him.  After all, as St. Jerome said, "Ignorance of Scriptures is Ignorance of Christ."  The likelihood of private revelation is not particularly high for those of us in the modern world, so all we have to fall back on in order to see, to know God, are the life of grace, and the revelation of Christ in the Sacred Scriptures.  We can "see" Our Lord and touch Him in the Sacraments and Scripture.  With Faith, we can know the realities of the Sacraments and the meanings of Scripture, but according to nature, we need a real human idea of Whom Christ was.  If we seek these, in the loving care of Holy Mother Church, then we can be, unlike doubting Thomas--who had to directly see and touch our Lord--those who "have not seen, yet still believe."   Christ is Risen!


Monday, April 9, 2012

"Hades is ANGERED!"

One of the main highlights of the Easter Vigil liturgy in the Eastern Catholic Churches is the reading of the Easter Homily of St. John Chrysostom.  The sermon, a masterpiece of oratory and doctrine, is also a rousing conclusion to Hajmat and introduction to the Holy Liturgy (Mass) itself.  Here it is, below.  The words in bold are shouted by the celebrant and echoed back by the whole congregation.  Christ is Risen!

Easter Homily

-St. John Chrysostom 

Let all pious men and all lovers of God rejoice in the splendor of this feast; let the wise servants blissfully enter into the joy of their Lord; let those who have borne the burden of Lent now receive their pay, and those who have toiled since the first hour, let them now receive their due reward; let any who came after the third hour be grateful to join in the feast, and those who may have come after the sixth, let them not be afraid of being too late; for the Lord is gracious and He receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him who comes on the eleventh hour as well as to him who has toiled since the first: yes, He has pity on the last and He serves the first; He rewards the one and praises the effort.
Come you all: enter into the joy of your Lord. You the first and you the last, receive alike your reward; you rich and you poor, dance together; you sober and you weaklings, celebrate the day; you who have kept the fast and you who have not, rejoice today. The table is richly loaded: enjoy its royal banquet. The calf is a fatted one: let no one go away hungry. All of you enjoy the banquet of faith; all of you receive the riches of his goodness. Let no one grieve over his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed; let no one weep over his sins, for pardon has shone from the grave; let no one fear death, for the death of our Saviour has set us free: He has destroyed it by enduring it, He has despoiled Hades by going down into its kingdom, He has angered it by allowing it to taste of his flesh.
When Isaias foresaw all this, he cried out: "O Hades, you have been angered by encountering Him in the nether world." Hades is angered because frustrated, it is angered because it has been mocked, it is angered because it has been destroyed, it is angered because it has been reduced to naught, it is angered because it is now captive. It seized a body, and, lo! it encountered heaven; it seized the visible, and was overcome by the invisible.
O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? Christ is risen and you are abolished. Christ is risen and the demons are cast down. Christ is risen and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen and life is set free. Christ is risen and the tomb is emptied of the dead: for Christ, being risen from the dead, has become the Leader and Reviver of those who had fallen asleep. To Him be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.