quod pro nobis traditum est

Monday, August 21, 2006

not busyness but prayer

A needed reminder. Take special note of the last paragraph:

Christians need to slow down, Pope says

Castelgandolfo, Aug. 21, 2006 (CNA) - Christians must guard against the dangers of excessive activity and busyness, regardless of their state of life or occupation, in order to protect themselves from developing “hardness of heart,” said Pope Benedict XVI yesterday, borrowing from 12th-century Cistercian monk and Doctor of the Church St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

The Pontiff, speaking to a crowd of faithful gathered to pray the Angelus at his summer residence in Castelgandolfo, noted that Sunday marked the feast of St. Bernard (1091-1153), who served as abbot of the famed monastery of Clairvaux for 38 years.

Excessive busyness leads to spiritual suffering, loss of intelligence and the loss of grace, the saint had written in his text called De consideratione, which was addressed to Pope Eugene III and which focused on the importance of the interior life. This applies to all occupations, including those within the Church, the saint had said.

St. Bernard knew how to harmonize the contemplative life with important missionary work, the Pope noted. However, the saint’s strict observance of silence and contemplation did not impede him from living a very intense apostolic life, the Pope observed. His humility and his commitment to tame his impetuous temperament were exemplary, he said.

The Pope also highlighted the saint’s focus on the truth that God, who is love, created mankind out of love and that man’s salvation consists of adhering firmly to Divine love, revealed through the crucified and risen Christ.

The richness of St. Bernard’s preaching and his theology were not in pursuing new paths, the Pope said, but in succeeding to propose the truth of the faith in a clear and incisive way so as to fascinate the listener and lead the person to prayer.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

witnesses of the transformation of death

"The martyrs were witnesses: witnesses of the transformation of death. What Christ destroys is not physical death but spiritual death, which is the alienation we live in - alienation from one another, from the world, from nature, from God, from ourselves first of all. The first Christian martyr, Stephen, as he was dying, said: 'I see heaven opening.' He witnessed death becoming life. The 'birthdays' of the martyrs are celebrated by the Church on their death days, on that day they were 'born.' The martyr does not think of this death as an increase in the capital of good deeds on which the Church can later draw checks, but as a sacrifice of love and praise; he is given the fantastic privilege of joining Christ in the death which is not an accident, but the culmination of a life filled to the brim."

(Alexander Schmemann in "Sacrifice and Worship", Chapter 9, of "Liturgy and Tradition: Theological Reflections of Alexander Schmemann", Thomas Fisch, ed., 132-3)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Saint Mary, Mother of Our Lord

There are others who can address today's Feast of the church year in a way to more fully express its significance. That is one reason why I provide links to other blogs and websites here. The Lutheran Church retains this Feast on her calendar and so reflects continuity, albeit somewhat limited, with the tradition of the church catholic. While this day is The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the Church of Rome and The Dormition of the Theotokos for the Eastern Church the day is rich with meaning and devotion. How the secular calendar and the busy-ness of life has obscured days like this on the calendar! However, happy circumstances this year permitted a meeting on this day with children in the city at the order of Matins. Normally, in our city church, Tuesday is Tuesday and we move from Sunday to Sunday (if that often!) This morning, we heard again the words of the Blessed Virgin, ". . . holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation." (Lk. 1) All generations in the faith do call Mary "blessed" and with good reason. This morning we prayed, "Almighty God, you chose the Virgin Mary to be the mother of Your only Son . . ."

The Apostle writes, "But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons." (Gal. 4) Today is just another day, another Tuesday. This year brought a happy meeting of summer Bible School and the Feast of Saint Mary, Mother of Our Lord. Just another day to be sure. Still, a great day to be reminded in the hearing of God's Word of Mary's place in the life of the Church. The angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” And Elizabeth said, "“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!" Maybe the children remembered this morning more for the games outside playing with friends or the arts and crafts. Yet they did hear about the fruit of Mary's womb and the blessing He was and is to people of every generation who fear Him. Another day, another day to pass on to a new generation the remembrance and honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary who says to us and our children in the Church, "And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation." When the fullness of time had come God redeemed both people and our time in Christ Jesus and His Cross. Not only Tuesday, but each day leading us into the future hope. In the meantime we have the church calendar to remind us of days like this and how what God has accomplished in the past is still a blessing today and yet another opportunity to hand over joyfully what was received. And "holy is His name."