Thursday, November 10, 2011

On the Altar

The Altar.
A block of stone, an ornate table of rare wood?
Temporary, permanent, ancient - what is it?

Look beyond...
the hands of a priest,
a table,
changed forever by oil and hands, a bishop's consecration.
The hands, the table... they are sacred, set apart for a holy purpose.
Set apart for God Himself.

It appears simple, a father leading his family
in a meal of prayer and thanksgiving.
Yet, it is more than a simple meal of bread and wine, shared for to be together.

The priest becomes something more.
Despite his flaws and failings, he is now In Persona Christi.
The bread and wine are now the Body & Blood, Soul & Divinity of Christ,
confected by those anointed hands on the table which has become Calvary - the Cross.

Consummatum est. This is the wedding feast of the Lamb.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hierarchical Thoughts

He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of all creation.
He is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.

I am absolutely fascinated by the wording of this passage from Colossians in Latin:

Omnia per ipsum et in ipsum creata sunt,
et ipse est ante omnia,
et omnia in ipso constant.
In Latin, the words ipsum, ipso, ipse are all forms of the intensive pronoun, that can be roughly translated as "he himself." Like the difference between saying, "Fred ran an errand," and "Fred himself ran an errand," or "Fred ran an errand himself."

Given that, we can take a stab at the translation of this passage, which is found at the end of verse 16 and beginning of verse 17 in the first chapter of Collosians.

All (things) through he himself and in he himself were created,
and he himself is before all (things),
and all (things) in he himself they last/are known/exist/consist (of)/stand firm.
Again and again this use of ipso, the intensive pronoun with the antecedent of Christ, emphasizing his absolute centrality to creation itself.

His centrality is not just in our worship, or in our own lives, but in fact to everything.

This is why we evangelize.

I recall a homily my pastor gave a couple of months ago, in which he said, "We must live lives which make no sense, if God isn't real." I think he found the heart of what St. Francis meant when he said, "Evangelize always, when necessary use words."

Obviously, not all of us are given to eloquent speech, or deep thought, or graceful prose and poetry. But each and every one of us is called to live a life that makes no sense, that is not logical, that is irrational, to the eyes of the world.

Even more than that, we Catholics have the added challenge that our lives must make no sense unless the Church is true. We should be a walking question mark to all people of faith, so that knowing us, they are brought to the question, "why would they do that if the Church wasn't what it said it was?"

And why do we do all this? For the glory? For the rewards? When Archbishop Fulton Sheen was asked how many souls he had converted, he answered none. God does the conversion, he was simply open to God's call to evangelization.

We do this because it is the will of God that no one suffer the pain of hell, which is the pain of eternal separation from Him.

We do this because in every human soul there is a longing, a thirsting. Every addiction, every false idol, every faulty idealism is a search for the altar of God. Because of our fallen nature, we struggle in finding it, but it is in our very nature to struggle to find it. We evangelize with our whole lives because every person's dignity deserves nothing less that the whole and total truth.

What if today is the day the Lord is going to use your prayer before the noon meal to draw a soul to himself?

What if today is the day when your unabashed joy in the saving power of God will be the conduit of God's love into a lost heart?

Belief in God is not a "different strokes for different folks" deal. No, we do not force our beliefs upon other people, but we must be constantly living lives that reflect our belief, and call others to belief. It is not "imposing our values," it is Living in the Truth.