Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Core of the Charism of St. Josemaria Escriva Is The Experience of Jesus Christ Guided By the Gospel

The center of the Chrism of St. Josemaria is to experience the Person of Christ such as to become “another Christ.” That experience must be ordered by preaching/reading the New Testament. Escriva wrote: “Mingle with the characters who appear in the New Testament. Capture the flavor of those moving scenes where the Master performs works that are both divine and human, and tells us, with human and divine touches, the wonderful story of his pardon for us and his enduring Love for his children. Those foretastes of heaven are renewed today, for the Gospel is always true: We can feel, we can sense, we can even say we touch God’s protection with our own hands.”[1]

                As an example, consider the Gospel scenes that we have been offered in the month of August – all from Matthew 14-16:

-          Mt. 14, 13: John is beheaded. Christ retires to solitary place. Crowds (large) follow him. He takes pity on them and wants to feed them bread after the Word. The apostles suggest He dismiss them to get bread in adjacent town. He says: you feed them – with the paltry means of 5 leaves and 2 fish. Obeying, the miracle occurs.

-          Mt. 14, 22: He sends the apostles to cross the lake; wind and waves rise, and He comes to them walking on the water. Peter suspects it is He, asks that He bid him come to him over the water (doesn’t make sense), and He does: “Come!” Peter walks on water but converts back to rational thought, doubts, sinks and is saved by Christ. The wind and waves abate immediately.

-          The Assumption: An experience of the veneration of the whole Church. Ratzinger: “the decisive driving force behind the declaration was veneration for Mary, that the dogma, so to speak, owes it origin, impetus, and goal more to an act of homage than to its content. This also becomes clear in the text of the dogmatic proclamation, where it is said that the dogma was promulgated for the honor of the Son, for the glorification of the mother, and for the joy of the entire Church… What the orient achieves in the form of liturgy, hymns, and rites, took place in the occident through the form of a dogmatic proclamation, which was intended to be, so to speak, a most solemn form of hymnology. This is how it should be understood.” In a word, “the dogma of the Assumption is simply the highest degree of canonization, in which the predicate ‘saint’ is recognized in the most strict sense, i.e., being wholly and undividedly in eschatological fulfillment…(W)e must remember that the gospel itself prophesies and requires veneration  for Mary: ‘Behold, from henceforth all generations will call me blessed’ (Lk. 1, 48)” that was already present in Elizabeth’s “Blessed are you have have believed…’” (Lk. 1, 45).[2]
This act of faith, as an ontological act of self-transcendence whereby the Virgin make the gift of her entire self, is the ontological grounding of the reality of her assumption and queenship.
-Mt. 15, 21: The Canaanite woman comes to ask for the healing  of her daughter. Christ answers: “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (25). She protests with faith “even the dogs eat of the crumbs that fall from their master’s table” (28). Christ: “O woman, great is thy faith! Let it be done to thee as thou wilt.”
-Mt. 16, 16: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” This knowledge emerges from the act of faith as the self-transcendence in Simon of prayer with Christ: “And it cam eo pass as he was praying in private, that his disciples were with him, and he asked them, saying, ‘Who do the crowds way that I am?’”… ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’…

        To pray is the experience of living faith, whereupon Simon is transformed into Peter. That is, there is a change in name as there is an enlargement of the ontological density of Simon into being “another Christ” – i.e.  Simon becomes Peter (“rock”) as Christ is “corner stone.” Hence, knowledge is an experience in likeness (“Like is known by like”) whereby one takes on the ontological dimensions of the other. Since Christ as Son is pure relation to the Father, and when incarnate reveals Himself as prayer, so Simon, by praying, begins to take on the dimension of “Son” and, being “like,” experiences what it is to be Christ “ab intus” and can say: “You are the Christ, the Son,” – and this from within himself.

-          Finally, today [22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time], Christ reveals that the will of the Father is that He suffer – which is denied by Peter. Notice, that only now Christ reveals the Cross, now that Simon could possibly be ready to take it as “other Christ.” But, no. “Far be it from thee, Lord.” “Get behind me Satan.” To suffer for Christ is the food of His identity as God-man, man who has taken our sins on himself as his own. Peter collapses from the demand of such Love, but he will be raised by Christ yet again. And again: Simon, agapas me?:  Do you love me with my Love and my Heart?

And so, August is the month of the experience of the Person of Christ guided by the Gospel narratives. Escriva says: “The whole secret of our sanctity lies in becoming like Him. He is our model. Therefore we read the Gospels daily, so that we will never lack the fuel that enkindles the fire of our love” (1966).

[1] St. Josemaria Escriva, Christ is Passing By #216.
[2] J. Ratzinger, “Daughter Zion,” Ignatius (1983) 74 et seq.

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