Strange Notions (the place to be online for Catholic-Atheist dialogue) is running a super series on how Catholics approach Sacred Scripture. I’ve written on this briefly before, but if you want more detail but not a whole book, Mark Shea is your man. Continue reading
Currently working my way through the first volume of BXVI’s Jesus of Nazareth, and came across this beauty, on the interpretation of Scripture:
The saints are the true interpreters of Holy Scripture. The meaning of a given passage of the Bible becomes most intelligible in those human beings who have been totally transfixed by it and have lived it out. Interpretation of Scripture can never be a purely academic affair, and it cannot be relegated to the purely historical. Scripture is full of potential for the future, a potential that can only be opened up when someone “lives through” and “suffers through” the sacred text.
As they Incarnate the Word, by living it, and conform themselves to Christ (the Word), the saints thus provide us with the most intense, vivid illustrations of the meaning of Sacred Scripture.
It’s true!! Advent IS nearly upon us, unbelievable though it may be. [That statement makes this very relevant:]
This does not mean, however, that Christmas has actually arrived. Advent is the time in which we anticipate the celebration of Christ’s first coming, by preparing ourselves appropriately, and in so doing we also anticipate Christ’s second coming.
It’s always a bit awkward to know exactly how best to prepare oneself though, isn’t it? It’s a penitential season, which we know because everything turns purple, but it’s somehow a bit different.
At any rate, everyone ought to be thinking of some way they can prepare themselves to receive Christ well this Christmas. My own gameplan: Morning and Evening Prayer, to immerse myself in the Scriptures that herald Our Lord’s coming.
What have been your most fruitful Advent commitments? Plans for this year?
From The Catholic Thing:
This is vitally important, especially to a slug like me. I am not always properly disposed or attentive at Mass – a truism that might be lost on those who don’t make Mass a daily priority. Those of us who do make it a priority know that it’s certainly not because we’re particularly holy, or anywhere close to it. In fact, the opposite is the case: We know we’re lousy sinners, and we want to be holy. Getting to daily Mass is just the lazy man’s approach to the matter.
Lazy man’s approach because, as Belloc was suggesting, all you have to do is show up to accrue some benefit. I even confessed this once – that my practice of going to Mass every day seemed like spiritual sloth because it was just too easy. Shouldn’t I be doing more than that? My confessor laughed and pointed out the pride in my question. “Just being at Mass is of infinite value, regardless of your state of mind. . . .After all, it’s Jesus that’s doing all the work. You just have to get yourself in the pew.”
Read the rest here.
The excellent Laura from Catholic Cravings and Ryan from The Back of the World have a blog dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Every first Friday they do a link-up on a specified theme. Laura has been begging me to contribute something for ages, and this is finally my first meagre attempt. 🙂 The November theme:
With these two feasts, we remember those who have fallen asleep in the hope of the Resurrection – the Church Triumphant in Heaven and the Church Penitent in Purgatory. In light of this, we would love to see posts with the following theme: “The love of the Sacred Heart is stronger than death.”
I’ll be upfront: I’m going with the theme, but not in direct connection with the feast days. I might link them in somehow, but we’ll see. My claim today is this:
Jesus longs for and institutes the Mass precisely because His love is such that it shoves death aside. Like a boss.
The latin for “heart” is cordis, whence “core”. So the heart is the core of the person. If Jesus is Love Incarnate, and His heart is the core of His Being, what an intense concentration of love the Sacred Heart must be!! I imagine it to be like the density of a neutron star. Check this out:
A neutron star contains a few solar masses of material squeezed into a radius of only 20 km. This means the matter is so compressed that a thimble full of it would weigh millions of tonnes on Earth.
Unpacking the jargon a bit for the unscientific of you: Imagine a distance of 40km. For Sydney-siders, that’s about the distance from Bondi Beach to Blacktown. Now think of all the matter that makes up the sun. Now think of a few suns. Squish ALL that matter into a space about 40km wide.
… yeah. HECTIC.
And the Love of the Sacred Heart is even more “dense” than that!! I pray with St Paul that the immensity of this sinks in a bit:
“That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Eph. 3:17-19)
At this point, we could probably say, “Well, shoot, of course what chance does death have up against that?!” But that’s not heaps theological. So we press on.
This is the Heart that longed for the Mass. Why did He long for it?
Because Love seeks union. And so to effect the union of the Bridegroom with His Bride, He instituted a means to remain with us, in a true communion. This means is the Eucharist, through which He remains incarnationally with us, and thus when we receive Him, we are united with our Bridegroom in the most intimate way possible. We become nigh inseparable from Him, with only our rejection of Him able to drive a wedge between us:
For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:38-39)
But what of death?
Jesus’ self-sacrifice of love is one and the same with the sacrifice of the Mass. There is but one Mass, which we all participate in. In our participation, we receive life:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day… He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever.”
Furthermore, death is defeated because precisely by dying, Christ took on our deaths, and redeemed them in the Resurrection. We participate in that through baptism, as we are baptised into His death, so it is as though we have died. And by making death the means to life, the love of Christ has thwarted death.
And what of the Communion of Saints? Well, recall that the Mass is one. Therefore, every time we go to Mass, we’re joining with everyone who’s ever gone to Mass, and who ever will, and are participating in the heavenly liturgy which those who have gone to sleep in Christ are already present at! We join the ranks of Mary, the Apostles, St Thomas Aquinas, St Thomas More, (soon to be) St John Paul II, St Augustine… everyone!! Kind of daunting in some ways (like, can these prayer-masters hear how pathetic and distracted my prayers are? how embarrassing!! But good for humility I guess…), but supremely awesome overall.
This isn’t quite the post I set out to write, but it will have to suffice.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.