Ave Crux! Okay, now back to silence till 1/1/15

Adoration of the Cross, Taken from drevodelatel.ru

Today’s feast dismantled my resolve to not blog until January 1st. At least for a day.

How could I resist the infinite force of the Exaltatio, the “exaltation” of the precious and life-giving Cross? Even the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time could not resist this Feast, so who am I to remain silent?

Yet, I have little coherent to say. Only some splattering of paint that flew from my prayer this morning.

Ave crux, spes unica, “Hail the Cross, our only hope.”

A Sudanese refugee, pointing to the crucifix carried by a Catholic missionary priest, once said: “Now there, there is a God I can worship. He walks with me.”

The Cross bears within its frame the truth that an all-pure God, in His love for humanity, risked contamination with the filth of sin and death.

A man I know who’s long worked in and for the Church, and has seen within her the best and worst of humanity, responded once to a rookie church employee who was kvetching about the warts and stains of various church leaders: “Yah, it’s a mess. But so was Calvary. God, uncomplaining, puts Himself in the middle of messes and so do we if we’re His servants.”

The Cross is the farthest exodus of God from eternal bliss, God’s ek-stasis, His “coming out of himself” to face His enemy (Rom. 5:10) with unimaginably tender mercy, to save that which was lost. Like the Samaritan who tended to the fallen stranger — who could well have been a decoy-victim luring do-gooders into an ambush on the exceedingly dangerous road to Jericho — God-in-Jesus stooped down from the supernal Heights with great compassion and tended to our mortal wounds. And we savaged Him, violently stripping Him of all His glory. Though, O Terrible Paradox, even that awful stripping proved to reveal God ever more glorious still! Naked, dying, mocked, rejected, hated, cajoled, struck-down, God’s most glorious attribute — mercy — ascended to the highest of heights and filled the universe with its all-surpassing brightness.

The God of the Cross is not risk-averse in His love for humanity, not self-protective.

And so the Church bears within, impressed upon by the fiery waters of Baptism and the crimson hues of Chrism oil, this divine drive to risk all for the sake of the well-being of the Other – for the God-Neighbor. To be outward, downward, turned toward the broken, wretched, irritating man or woman nearby is to face Godward. Dorothy Day: “We love God only as much as we love the person we like least.” Pope Francis: “We need to avoid the spiritual sickness of a church that is wrapped up in its own world: when a church becomes like this, it grows sick. It is true that going out on to the street implies the risk of accidents happening, as they would to any ordinary man or woman. But if the church stays wrapped up in itself, it will age. And if I had to choose between a wounded church that goes out on to the streets and a sick, withdrawn church, I would definitely choose the first one.”

The Cross, God-made-serpent, God-expended, God-emptied, God-made-sin (2 Cor. 5:21), God-so-loving-us that our imaginations cannot bear its weight, save in this Symbol and Sign, this horrid Tree on which Love bled and Life died.


Qui propter nos hómines et propter nostram salútem descéndit de cælis, “Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven.” God from God come down to lift up the fallen children.

Man fell, God falls. The Cross opens for us a revelation about God that no mind could have conceived of, and which rightly leads us to stupefied, if adoring, silence.

“God’s passionate love for his people—for humanity—is at the same time a forgiving love. It is so great that it turns God against himself, his love against his justice.” – Benedict XVI

I once shared this Dietrich Bonhoeffer quote with you on Good Friday, but it’s worth repeating:

“Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes. There is his commission, his work. The kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared.”

At today’s Mass, remember that the Food and Drink you ingest into your embodied souls was gained and given at unspeakable cost to God. Eat and drink with reverence, awe, holy fear and a full awareness of the real danger that comes with consuming it. Repent of all in you that refuses conformity to the prodigal extravagance of divine love; repent before you dare receive into your very depths Heaven’s Hound.

“You are the body of Christ. In you and through you the work of the incarnation must go forward. You are to be taken; you are to be blessed, broken, and given; that you may be the means of grace and the vehicles of the Eternal love. Behold what you are. Become what you receive.” – St. Augustine

The Sermon on the Plain in St. Luke’s Gospel is a presage of the Cross, a prelude, a preface, an exegesis, a prism that rendered the Cross’ invisible light into a visible spectrum of colors with which Christians paint the world beautiful.

But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. — Luke 6:27-35

Okay, back to silence. Blessings on you all.


After the last three posts, I think I will take (give you) a breather.

Sometimes, believe it or not, I run out of words. And one thing I have learned from others’ example is that when you do run out, don’t fake it.

Also, Pythagoras said that it was requisite either to be silent or to say something better than silence.

But, sed contra, the saints’ voices are are never silent:

The key to all Divine gifts is given to the heart by love of neighbor, and, in proportion to the heart’s freedom from the selfish bonds of the flesh, the door of knowledge begins to open before it. — St. Isaac of Syria

Well, that’s enough said for today about how I will not speak.

Draft post script

Amendment to today’s post: if you read it, the final line in my “Saved?’ post just before the video was a non sequitur, so I removed the “12 words” thing.

What was that? 2011 must have been a tough year.

Divine Mercy Sunday


Divine Mercy Sunday
This final Day of the Easter Octave, named Divine Mercy Sunday by Pope John Paul II in 2000, is a “hermeneutical crown” of the eight-day-long celebration of that Eighth and final Day of creation.

Hermeneutical? The word simply means “interpretive,” or the science of discovering meaning. Hence, I mean that this feast of Mercy really gets to the core of Easter’s true meaning.

Mercy, as I intend it here, is love encountering evil and overcoming it, healing it, redeeming it and raising out of its ruins surpassing goods that could never have been apart from these evils. Though God never positively wills an evil, He permits evil only in view of the greater goods He might draw from them. And it is mercy that sustains the mysterious logic of the felix culpa, the “happy fault” of Adam that we sing of in the Exultet at the Easter Vigil.

The whole economy of God’s work in Jesus is at heart a work of mercy, with the Passion being the inner core of that heart. In the Resurrection, God the Father accepted his Son’s sacrifice as a new and eternal mode of God’s being God: in the heart of the eternal Trinity is forever the risen Body of Jesus ever-marked with the signs of the Passion. God now, only and for all ages, relates to creation through the open wounds of the Risen Christ.

To me, this is utterly astonishing to ponder: God’s mode of being-God — etched in His flesh — is forged by mercy’s response to human hatred and cruelty. This is the message embedded in the icon of Divine Mercy revealed to St. Faustina Kowalska.

Eucharistic Chaplet
It’s also the meaning of the “Chaplet of Mercy” that St. Faustina received from God in a vision. The Chaplet is an offering of the Slain-Risen Lord to the Father — by His priestly people — asking the Father to be who he has shown himself to be in Christ: Mercy. As such, the Chaplet is an extension of the liturgical-sacramental offering of the same Slain-Risen Lord that is the holy sacrifice of the Mass.

To see this, one need only reflect on the words of Eucharistic Prayer I that follow the Consecration: “…we, your servants and your holy people, offer to your glorious majesty, from the gifts that you have given us, this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim, the holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation…”

In this sense, I have always found the Chaplet to be a superb way to prepare for, and extend forward the celebration of the holy Eucharist into life. It shapes in me a deeper awareness of my sharing in Christ’s royal priesthood through Baptism. This priesthood calls me to — at every moment — offer both my own life as a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1) for the life of the world, and to offer the living sacrifice of Christ Himself.

A number of years ago, this insight — like lightning — flashed in my mind during the per ipsum at Mass. The per ipsum is the moment, at the end of the long Eucharistic prayer after the Consecration, when the priest lifts up the Host and Chalice toward the Father and prays,

Through him, and with him, and in him,
O God, almighty Father,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honor is yours,
for ever and ever.

On behalf of all and for all, the priest offers up God to God, the Son to the Father, and the faithful, united to the Son in His self-offering, seal their co-offering by a solemn and oath-making  “great Amen.” As we were singing thrice the great Amen, I understood with what seemed like absolute clarity this Amen was our co-pronouncing with Christ His tetelestaiconsummatum est, “It is finished” (John 19:30). I also saw in that moment that our “Amen” was also our consenting “we are able”:

But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized…”

That “cup” and “baptism” are, of course, references to his Passion.



The Chaplet, as a para-liturgical devotion, sustains the moment of our liturgical “great Amen.” It affirms the staggering truth that in Christ we have the authority to — at any moment we choose — apply the infinite treasury of God’s mercy to the world. And the sobering truth that we are willing to join Jesus in His self-offering.

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

It causes me to tremble. May He who is Risen to forever intercede for us before His Father sustain us daily in fidelity by His grace.


Speaking of silence…

As promised yesterday, I will not Blog theology today. So consider this a faux post.

As American novelist William S. Burroughs once said, “Silence is only frightening to people who are compulsively verbalizing.”

So let me at least feign for a day that I am not a compulsive verbalizer.


We need saints. . .


Jordan Haddad
M.A. Student Theological Studies

We need saints without limit or bound.

We need saints who never leave their home town.

We need saints who change diapers.

We need saints who are homeless window wipers.

We need saints who cry, laugh, mourn, rejoice.

We need saints who are just little girls and boys.

We need saints who silently suffer what they cannot change.

We need saints who speak out and are then estranged.

We need saints who will go out into the gutters.

We need saints who love constantly and are brave mothers.

We need saints who pray, hope, and love.

We need contemporary saints similar to those who are above.

Thérèse 2

In the wake of yesterday’s amazing feast, I couldn’t help but allow Thérèse to speak again. Two of my all-time favorites:

But now I realize that true charity consists in putting up with all one’s neighbors faults, never being surprised by his weakness, and being inspired by the least of his virtues . . . When God, under the old law, told His people to love their neighbors as themselves, He had not yet come down to earth. As He knew how much we love ourselves, He could not ask us to do more. But when Jesus gave His apostles a “new commandment, His own commandment,” He did not ask only that we should love our neighbors as ourselves but that we should love them as He loves them and as He will love them to the end of time. O Jesus, I know You command nothing that is impossible. You know how weak and imperfect I am, and You know only too well that I could never love the other nuns as You love them if You Yourself did not love them within me.

+ + +

Though I’m quite unworthy, I love to say the Divine Office every day, but apart from that I cannot bring myself to hunt through books for beautiful prayers. There are so many of them that I get a headache. Besides, each prayer seems lovelier than the next. I cannot possibly say them all and do not know which to choose, I behave like children who cannot read: I tell God very simply what I want and He always understands. For me, prayer is an upward leap of the heart, an untroubled glance towards heaven, a cry of gratitude and love which I utter from the depths of sorrow as well as from the heights of joy. It has a supernatural grandeur which expands the soul and unites it with God. I say an Our Father or a Hail Mary when I feel so spiritually barren that I cannot summon up a single worthwhile thought. These two prayers fill me with rapture and feed and satisfy my soul.