Tuesday, December 02, 2008

"If only all Catholics were like..."

Read Amy Welborn's entire post.

One sometimes reads, not only in Catholic sources, but non-Catholic sources as well, as sort of wistfulness for the right sort of Catholic. “If only all Catholics were like….I might be more open to it. Too bad the other ones have to be around to ruin it.” Fill in the blank: Mother Angelica. Thomas Merton. King Louis IX. Dorothy Day. Take your pick.

It’s too bad, the implication lurks, that there are those other sort of Catholics who mess up the pretty picture, the perfect embodiment of the Gospel.

It is, indeed, a difficult reality to grasp and live with: the fact that the Body of Christ lives and breathes in the world as it is, not in a world expressive of our own desires and ideals. It is the obstacle that every one of us encounters and must deal with. It is a mystery, but one that when humbly confronted, leads us ultimately to Christ, for we find it is He in whom our faith must rest, not in his poor servants.


Layer upon layer. Nothing is simple. In this Body of Christ, paradox reigns, inherent at its root - the Body of the Christ, the Anointed of God, descended from eternity, yet broken, yet risen, yet still embodied here.

Ultimately, to sneer at the wrong sort of Catholic leads us to one place.

The mirror.

But mirrors can break. And in the mess of glass shimmering on the floor, perhaps we can find some authentic light at last, and let ourselves be guided by Him alone, accepting the mess, sweeping up what is possible, but recognizing that the mess belongs to all of us, not just the other.

She concludes her post with the following from the Office fo Readings.

The wonder of the Incarnation by St Gregory Nazianzen
The very Son of God, older than the ages, the invisible, the incomprehensible, the incorporeal, the beginning of beginning, the light of light, the fountain of life and immortality, the image of the archetype, the immovable seal, the perfect likeness, the definition and word of the Father: he it is who comes to his own image and takes our nature for the good of our nature, and unites himself to an intelligent soul for the good of my soul, to purify like by like. He takes to himself all that is human, except for sin. He was conceived by the Virgin Mary, who had been first prepared in soul and body by the Spirit; his coming to birth had to be treated with honour, virginity had to receive new honour. He comes forth as God, in the human nature he has taken, one being, made of two contrary elements, flesh and spirit. Spirit gave divinity, flesh received it.

He who makes rich is made poor; he takes on the poverty of my flesh, that I may gain the riches of his divinity. He who is full is made empty; he is emptied for a brief space of his glory, that I may share in his fullness. What is this wealth of goodness? What is this mystery that surrounds me? I received the likeness of God, but failed to keep it. He takes on my flesh, to bring salvation to the image, immortality to the flesh. He enters into a second union with us, a union far more wonderful than the first.

Holiness had to be brought to man by the humanity assumed by one who was God, so that God might overcome the tyrant by force and so deliver us and lead us back to himself through the mediation of his Son. The Son arranged this for the honour of the Father, to whom the Son is clearly obedient in all things.

The Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep, came in search of the straying sheep to the mountains and hills on which you used to offer sacrifice. When he found it, he took it on the shoulders that bore the wood of the cross, and led it back to the life of heaven.
Christ, the light of all lights, follows John, the lamp that goes before him. The Word of God follows the voice in the wilderness; the bridegroom follows the bridegroom’s friend, who prepares a worthy people for the Lord by cleansing them by water in preparation for the Spirit.

We need God to take our flesh and die, that we might live. We have died with him, that we may be purified. We have risen again with him, because we have died with him. We have been glorified with him, because we have risen again with him.

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