From the Office of the Church's Readings:
Written here 4 Years Ago
The Moon this morning at 5.15 a.m. In a pitch black (yet penumbral) night, is situated alone in the southwest quadrant hovering over the
A) It is Holy Saturday. Jesus Christ, her Son and the Son of the living God-Father, is dead. It is the death of God. Benedict XVI, in his “Introduction to Christianity” (1990), wrote: “On Good Friday our gaze remains fixed on the crucified Christ, but Holy Saturday is the day of the ‘death of God,’ the day which expresses the unparalleled experience of our age, anticipating the fact that God is simply absent, that the grave hides him, that he no longer awakes, no longer speaks so that one no longer needs to gainsay him but can simply overlook him. ‘God is dead and we have killed him.’ This saying of Nietzsche belongs linguistically to the tradition of Christian Passiontide piety; it expresses the content of Holy Saturday, ‘descended into hell’” (224).
Nietzsche’ Parable of THE MADMAN
“Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: "I seek God! I seek God!" -- As many of those who did not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Has he got lost? asked one. Did he lose his way like a child? asked another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? emigrated? -- Thus they yelled and laughed.The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. "Whither is God?" he cried; "I will tell you. We have killed him -- you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.
"How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us -- for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto."
Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; and they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. "I have come too early," he said then; "my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars -- and yet they have done it themselves.
It has been related further that on the same day the madman forced his way into several churches and there struck up his requiem aeternam deo. Led out and called to account, he is said always to have replied nothing but: "What after all are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?"
B) Our Lady: But in this dark night, there is this moon, full, pale yet bright as the only light in the dark. It is our Lady. “Blessed is she who believed” (Lk. 1, 45). Note that she was told by the angel at the Annunciation that “the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David… and of his kingdom there will be no end” (Lk. 1, 32-35)
But the visible and tangible reality is that his kingship and his kingdom indeed ended. She holds his dead body in her arms, bloodied and dead. It’s over! God is dead. Note that the promise she received from the angel “seems to be definitively proved wrong. Faith enters into its utmost kenosis. It is in total darkness” – like the moon this morning at 5.15 a.m. “But,” continues Benedict, “precisely in this way faith is perfect participation in Jesus expropriation (Phil. 2, 5-8). The circle is complete: ‘A body you have prepared for me; behold, I have come’ – this initial declaration of readiness is not being accepted, and precisely Mary’s darkness is the fulfillment of the communion of wills that was our starting point. Faith – Abraham already makes this plain – is community at the Cross. It is at the Cross that faith achieves its integrity. Thus, and not otherwise, is faith room [space] for the ‘blessing’ that comes from God: ‘You have revealed them to infants.’”
But she believes! She dies to her senses as He died on the Cross. The moon shines in darkness over the
Hudson and New Jersey at 5.15 a.m. on Holy Saturday.
Christ lives on this earth in her faith, not just a conscious effervescence of
her thought and sentiment, but in the crouching anticipation and readiness of
her whole self body and spirit. She continues to be entirely gift to the Father
and to Him. As she said “Yes” to the announcement of the angel, she continues
in her “Yes” at the Cross and in this night. Benedict says: “It is at the Cross
that faith achieves its integrity. The death of Christ is the kenosis of Mary’s faith – better than
Abraham. Both Abraham and our Lady were called to sacrifice their sons. The
Father stopped the hand of Abraham, but He wills the death of His Son because
of His love for us.
Holy Saturday: the Liturgy of the 21st Century:
But as the storm on the lake, Christ is present but only asleep, and the presence of Christ to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, such is the presence of Christ to us now in the third millennium. As the faith of our Lady on the night and day of Holy Saturday, such is to be our faith in the 21st century.
The pope, after 10 months of preparation of Wednesday addresses on silence and prayer, for the Year of Faith, is about to lead the Church across the threshold of living faith and the experience of Christ from the feast of our Lady, Mother of God [“blessed is she who believed”], October 11, 2012 to the feast of Christ the King on November 24, 2013. He is anticipating the Church’s recovery of faith sufficient to understand and assimilate the teachings of Vatican II (October 11, 1962) and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (October 11, 1992) as well as Paul VI’s “Populorum Progressio” and “Humanae Vitae.” Neither have been understood, and with the divine aid of the Year of Faith, we may enter into the real moment of “The New Evangelization” of the modern world.