Thursday, April 05, 2012

Holy Thursday, April 5, 2012

“The Word of God is the foundation of all reality, it is as stable as the heavens and more than the heavens, it is reality.”[1]And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1, 14). God reveals Himself in and through the Word: “No one has at any time seen God; The only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has revealed him” (Jn. 1, 18).

Elizabeth Anscombe and The Eucharist:

How can we know the Word? Elizabeth Anscombe tells of a mother in the free space at the back of Catholic Church, with her arm around the waist of her three old child, pointing toward the altar, saying: “‘Look! Look what the priest is doing…. He is saying Jesus’ words that change the bread into Jesus’s Body. Now he’s lifting it up. Look! Now bow your head and say ‘My Lord and my God’, and then, ‘Look, now he’s taken hold of the cup. He’s saying the words that change the wine into Jesus’ Blood. Now bow your head and say ‘We believe, we adore your precious Blood, O Christ of God’….

            “I knew a child, close upon three years old…” who, when his mother went to Communion and returned, asked: “‘is He in you?’… “Yes,’ she said, and to her amazement the child prostrated itself before her.”

            The point is that the truth of the Eucharist can be grasped by a child of three and internalized to such depth that the child is capable of understanding the need for adoration of the God present in time and space. And this by verbal instruction from the most trusted of friends, his mother.

Reason becomes narrowed by living for self:

With time however, the Eucharist becomes a scandal to the rationalized and externalized reason. The Jews who were presented this Truth by Christ Himself were scandalized: “The Jews on that account argued with one another, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (Jn. 6, 53), and they left His presence exclaiming: “This is a hard saying. Who can listen to it?” (Jn. 6, 62).

The reaction of the Jews follows on the second commandment of the Judaic Torah. Carl Ehrlich wrote: the divine declaration “I the LORD  am  your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage” (Exod 20:2) stands alone as the First Commandment. “You shall have no other gods besides Me” (Exod 20:3) serves as the introduction to the Second Commandment, which continues with the prohibition of idolatry in vv. 4-6. This is the division that has established itself in the Jewish tradition and is reflected on the tablets of the covenant in Jewish art. These two passages are not, therefore, to be read following each other, but in conjunction with each other. Hence, they form one unit in Jewish tradition. The fact that they are not to be read individually is extremely important in determining their interpretative history within Judaism. The prohibition of worshiping foreign gods is read as part and parcel of the prohibition of idolatry. This juxtaposition thus conveys the message that worshiping any other being or deity, other than the God who saved Israel from Egyptian slavery, is equivalent to idolatry” (York University). But Christianity is precisely the revelation that there are Three Persons in the One God, and that the Second, although distinct from the Father (“The Father is greater than I” [Jn. 14, 28]) is One with the Father (“I and the Father are one” [Jn. 10, 30]).
John Paul II insightfully remarked: “Could God go further in His stooping down, in His drawing near to man, thereby expanding the possibilities of our knowing Him? In truth, it seems that He has gone as far as possible. He could not go further. In a certain sense God has gone too far! Didn’t Christ perhaps become ‘a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles’ (1 Cor. 1, 23)? Precisely because He called God His Father, because He revealed Him so openly in Himself, He could not but elicit the impressions that it was too much…. Man was no longer able to tolerate such closeness, and thus the protests began.

“This great protest has precise names – first it is called the Synagogue, and then Islam. Neither can accept a God who is so human. ‘It is not suitable to speak of God I this way,’ the protest. ‘He must remain absolutely transcendent; He must remain pure Majesty. Majesty full of mercy, certainly, but no to the point of paying for the faults of His own creatures, for their sins.

“From one point of view it is right to say that God revealed too much of Himself to man, too much of that which is most divine, that which is His intimate life; He revealed Himself in His Mystery. He was not mindful of the fact that such an unveiling would in a certain way obscure Him in the eyes of man, because man is not capable of withstanding an excess of the Mystery.”[2]

Reason Becomes Idolatrous by the Television Culture

            Benedict XVI, on a visit to the Church of the Charterhouse at Serra San Bruno on October 9, 2011, a Carthusian monastery, remarked: “In recent decades… the development of the media has spread and extended a phenomenon that had already been outlined in the 1960s: virtuality risks predominating over reality. Unbeknownst to them, people are increasingly becoming immersed in a virtual dimension because of the audiovisual messages that accompany their life from morning to night.
The youngest, born into this condition, seem to want to fill every empty moment with music and images, out of fear of feeling this very emptiness. This is a trend that has always existed, especially among the young and in the more developed urban contexts but today it has reached a level such as to give rise to talk about anthropological mutation. Some people are no longer able to remain for long periods in silence and solitude.”

Enter Benedict XVI: 10 Months on Prayer, Silence and the Experience of God in Jesus Christ

            Benedict is calling for a “Year of Faith,” the introduction to which is interior silence and the activity of which is prayer. He has just finished 10 months of Wednesday addresses on prayer that are directed to entering into a different dimension than sensible perception and abstract thought. He is wanting to lead the Church across the threshold of an experience of God which can be achieved only by an experience of the self when going out of self, and this because the human self has been made in the image and likeness of the divine Selves Who are total self-gift to other.
            And so he sums up his visit to the Carthusians, not to hold up the disengagement from the world as the paradigm for the 99% of the Church that is in the world by divine vocation, but to present the attitude that must obtain to enter into this experience of self and of God. He said: “I shall sum it up like this: by withdrawing into silence and solitude, human beings, so to speak, "expose" themselves to reality in their nakedness, to that apparent "void", which I mentioned at the outset, in order to experience instead Fullness, the presence of God, of the most real Reality that exists and that lies beyond the tangible dimension. He is a, perceptible presence in every creature: in the air that we breathe, in the light that we see and that warms us, in the grass, in stones.... God, Creator omnium, [the Creator of all], passes through all things but is beyond them and for this very reason is the foundation of them all.”
            Everyone in the Church must reach this reality of God and self that is the only true reality. Everything else is of a “secondary order.”

[1] Benedict XVI, The Synod on the Word of God, Keynote Address, October 6, 2008.
[2] John Paul II, “Crossing the Threshold of Hope,” Knopf (1994) 40-41.

No comments: