Saturday, October 7, 2017

Contemplating the Godhead

The Second Reading for the Office of Our Lady of the Rosary today was taken from a sermon by St Bernard and given the title: "We should meditate on the mysteries of salvation":

"The child to be born of you will be called holy, the Son of God, the fountain of wisdom, the Word of the Father on high. Through you, blessed Virgin, this Word will become flesh, so that even though, as he says: I am in the Father and the Father is in me, it is still true for him to say: “I came forth from God and am here.”
  In the beginning was the Word. The spring was gushing forth, yet still within himself. Indeed, the Word was with God, truly dwelling in inaccessible light. And the Lord said from the beginning: I think thoughts of peace and not of affliction. Yet your thought was locked within you, and whatever you thought, we did not know; for who knew the mind of the Lord, or who was his counsellor?
  And so the idea of peace came down to do the work of peace: The Word was made flesh and even now dwells among us. It is by faith that he dwells in our hearts, in our memory, our intellect and penetrates even into our imagination. What concept could man have of God if he did not first fashion an image of him in his heart? By nature incomprehensible and inaccessible, he was invisible and unthinkable, but now he wished to be understood, to be seen and thought of.
  But how, you ask, was this done? He lay in a manger and rested on a virgin’s breast, preached on a mountain, and spent the night in prayer. He hung on a cross, grew pale in death, and roamed free among the dead and ruled over those in hell. He rose again on the third day, and showed the apostles the wounds of the nails, the signs of victory; and finally in their presence he ascended to the sanctuary of heaven.
  How can we not contemplate this story in truth, piety and holiness? Whatever of all this I consider, it is God I am considering; in all this he is my God. I have said it is wise to meditate on these truths, and I have thought it right to recall the abundant sweetness, given by the fruits of this priestly root; and Mary, drawing abundantly from heaven, has caused this sweetness to overflow for us."

We meditate on the mysteries as individuals, as families and in community, as in church, both reciting the Holy Rosary and through our participation in the worthy celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

St. Bernard touches a point which has lost none of its relevance for believers today and which occasions more than its share of fretting in our day and time as, in various questionnaires and sometimes even out in the open, people who identify as "Catholic" (how's that for full immersion in the jargon of our time!) shamelessly express doubts or disbelief in all the major tenets of our faith. What is the remedy for the why so of this tragic state of affairs?

Bailing or pumping out the leaking hull will not be enough to right the listing ship. By that I mean that as essential as a full fledged restoration or rejuvenation of Catholic marriage and family life is, which is to say an insistent striving for a genuine empowerment of the family as the little Church, there is more to the Catholic edifice than the family, the keystone of its central arch, and namely, there is also the cornerstone, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Sunday. 

Here too we must strive with all our might for a restoration. Sunday Mass is, as we can note already in the testimony from St. Justin Martyr from his trial in 165 AD, that without which we cannot exist as Christians. Too often forgotten in our daily living is that Sunday Mass is indeed the cornerstone, the key piece which makes sense of the whole mosaic, the big picture. In and of itself it cannot be a didactic exercise, but must rather be that moment of meditation or contemplation, that still point around which all else must turn. If we could clear away all the fluff and abuse which clutters the average Catholic's experience of Sunday Mass, we could better concentrate on that which is supposed to lead to and flow from our Sunday in church. It is what makes Sunday and Mass an integral part of living which is lacking: daily prayer, penance, reading and study - each in the measure appropriate to our station in life. Important is that nobody is excused out of a mindless compulsion to "keep up with the Jones's".  

I think everyday should have space for 5 Mysteries, driving the banal, contentious and quirky out of at least a generous quarter hour out of 24 whole ones. I would invite you to start today with one decade and enjoy time contemplating one tiny aspect of the Godhead. No time to lose!


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