Thursday, November 08, 2007

Opening Meditation: Workshop for Cooperators of Opus Dei

1. What is Opus Dei: Vocation and praxis to be “alter Christus,” “Ipse Christus.”

- August 7, 1931: Locution: “Et si exaltatus fuero a terra, omnia traham ad meipsum” (Ioann. 12, 32). “A voice, as always, perfect, clear:… And the precise concept: it is not in the sense in which Scripture says it; I say it to you in the sense that you put me at the summit of all human activities, so that in all the places of the world, there may be Christians with a personal and most free dedication, that they be other Christs.”
- October 16, 1931: Locution: “You are my son, you are Christ.” And I only knew how to repeat: Abba, Pater!, Abba, Pater! Abba!, Abba!, Abba!

To say “Abba” from within oneself, one must be “another Christ.” Joachim Jeremias says: “No Jew would have dared to address God in this manner. Jesus did it always, in all his prayers which are handed down to us, with one single exception, the cry from the cross: ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ (Mark 15, 34; Matt. 27, 46); here the term of address for God was prescribed by the fact that Jesus was quoting Ps. 22, 1. Jesus thus spoke with God as a child speaks with his father, simply, intimately, securely. But his invocation of God as abba is not to be understood merely psychologically, as a step toward growing apprehension of God. Rather we learn from Matt. 11, 27 that Jesus himself viewed this form of address for God as the heart of that revelation which had been granted him by the Father. In this term Abba the ultimate mystery of his mission and his authority is expressed. He, to whom the Father had granted full knowledge of God, has the messianic prerogative of addressing him with the familiar address of a son. This term abba is an ipsissima vox of Jesus and contains in nuce his message and his claim to have been sent from the Father.

“The final point, and the most astonishing of all, however, has yet to be mentioned: in the Lord’s Prayer Jesus authorizes his disciples to repeat the word abba after him. He gives them a share in his sonship and empowers them, as his disciples, to speak with their heavenly Father in just such a familiar, trusting way as a child would with his father. Yes, he goes so far as to say that it is this new relationship which first opens the doors to God’s reign: ‘Truly, I say t you, unless you become like children again, you will not find entrance into the kingdom of God’ (Matt. 18, 3). Children can say ‘abba’! Only he who, through Jesus, lets himself be given the childlike trust which resides in the word abba finds his way into the kingdom of God.”[1]

2. The call to become “another Christ” is radical:

- “Now great crowds were going along with him. And he turned and said to them, ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. And he who does not carry his cross and follow me, cannot be my disciple
‘For which of you, wishing to build a tower, does not sit down first and calculate the outlays that are necessary, whether he has the means to complete it? Lest, after he has laid the foundation and is not able to finish, all who behold begin to mock him, saying ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish!’
‘Or what king setting out to engage in battle with another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to meet him who with twenty thousand is coming against him? Or else, whilst the other is yet at a distance, he sends a delegation and asks the terms of peace. So, therefore, everyone of you who does not renounce all that he possesses, cannot be my disciple
‘Salt is good; but if even the salt loses its strength, what shall it be seasoned with? It is fit neither for the land nor for the manure heap, but must be thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.’”[2]

- St. Josemaria Escriva: “In our path in life, we too have stumbled upon an amazing treasure: our vocation as children of God. To gain this treasure, to acquire the happiness of following Christ, we need to renounce everything. The goods that I must sell are my ambitions, my concupiscence, my dreams of earthly happiness, my affections that stem from flesh and blood, which are noble but tie me down, my professional dreams, even though these will often fit in with my apostolic plans.

“Is this all I need to sell? Even more, I have to sell my will. Is there still something left to renounce? Yes, my entire ‘I,’ my self-complacency. In a word, my self-love. How hard it is to renounce this self-love! How often it robs us of peace and leads us astray. Our dignity, we think, is at stake. We think that something is a matter of justice; we need to do things in a certain way and in no other. But wouldn’t the man in the parable have been foolish to have scorned the treasure he found? Aren’t we foolish if, by not rejecting our wretched self-love, we abandon the treasure of our dedication to Christ?” [3]

3. To be Christ radically is to be secular: The humanity of Christ is complete and total. Therefore, to be in the world making money, having things, being married, living a full social life, etc. is no obstacle to a total and complete identity with Christ such as to be “alter Christus.”

There is no full man who is not Christ: “All things are yours, and you are Christ’s and Christ is God’s” (1 Cor. 3, 23). You are to subdue the world, make it your own and then make it gift as you yourself must be gift to Christ and to the others. Nothing is yours for simple possession’s sake (cf. Laborem Exercens #14).

4. The call is to personal intimacy with Christ = faith. The danger is: a) the culture of fictitious Christs; b) superficiality (in us)

a) Fictitious Christs: “Yet concurrent with this manifold presence of the figure of Jesus, it is disturbing to note that, within Christianity itself, Christology has been losing its meaning. It started with the effort to rediscover the man Jesus behind the gilded background of dogma, to return to the simplicity of the Gospels. Of course, it quickly became evident that the figure of Jesus in the Gospels cannot be reduced to that of a bland philanthropist – that precisely the Jesus of the Gospels, too, bursts open the framework of what is merely human, posing questions and demanding decisions that challenge man to the very depths of his soul. And so it became necessary then to pick and choose even in the Gospels themselves, in order to find a little consolation and not be exposed to any disturbance of one’s own world view. Today in broad circles, even among believers, an image has prevailed of a Jesus who demands nothing, never scolds, who accepts everyone and everything, who no longer dos anything but affirm us: the perfect opposite of the Church, to the extent that she still dares to make demands and regulations….

“The presence of the figure of Jesus itself is becoming diminished – also with regard to the non-Christian contemporaries who surround us; the figure is transformed from the Lord’ (a word that is avoided) into a man who is nothing more than the advocate of all men. The Jesus of the Gospels is quite different, demanding, bold. The Jesus who makes everything okay for everyone is a phantom, a dream, not a real figure. The Jesus of the Gospels is certainly not convenient for us. But it is precisely in this way that he answers the deepest question of our existence, which- whether we want to or not – keeps us on the lookout for God, for a gratification that is limitless, for the infinite. We must again set out on the woe to his real Jesus.”[4]

5) The Goal: The Kingdom of God

a) The Kingdom is a Person: Jesus Christ: RMi #18
b) The Kingdom is “Now,” as well as at the end of time. When you become “ipse Christus,” since He personally is the Kingdom, when you become “another Christ,” the Kingdom is here and now in you – as St. Josemaria heard it.

The Priority: The plan of life that is the lived deed of the Sabbath Structure of Creation: 15 minutes of mental prayer daily; Holy Mass, daily; 5 minutes of New Testament, daily; Holy Rosary, daily; brief examination of conscience. Weekly Confession and spiritual direction.
[1] Joachim Jeremias, “The Prayers of Jesus,” Fortress Press (1978) 97.
[2] Lk. 14, 25-35.
[3] St. Josemaria Escriva, “Growing on the Inside,” 261-262.
[4] J. Ratzinger, “On the Way to Jesus Christ,” Ignatius (2005) 7-8.

1 comment:

Kentucky Scot said...

Well done.