Catholic Church: December 2006 Archives

Knowing and Understanding

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The Church may teach (I haven't looked for a definitive articulation, but I've seen it asserted by a number of bloggers) that Jesus knew from the moment of His birth that He was God. How this reconciles with "like us in all things but sin," is an interesting question--a question addressed by Anne Rice in her wonderful Jesus the Christ: Out of Egypt.

If I must accept on faith that Jesus always knew His divinity and that He was like us in all things but sin, I'm left to wonder how these two partially antithetical tenets are resolved. Anne Rice explains it superbly--while we may know, sometimes we do not understand.

As babies, I suppose there is a rudimentary "knowledge" that one is alive and one is human. Can a baby be said to understand what it means to be human? As one cannot inquire into the understanding of a infant, one cannot speak definitively; however, it is on the very far side of probability that any infant truly understands his or her condition.

I think now about the babe in the manger. This infant who was God possessed the mind and the physical limitations of the human being in the human body. He was to undergo ontogeny--growth in understanding and in being. That is the path of all of humanity. It is important that He should do so, for to do anything else would not be fully human, and Jesus came to bear the full weight of humanity. Jesus may have known that He was God, but if He was fully Human, it took Him some time to fully comprehend what that means.

Think for a moment of being the mother of this very special child. What a responsibility, what a privilege. You are charged with bringing God to an understanding of His Godhood. It is principally through your love, care, and nurturing that this Child will come to understand what it means to love, what it means to be human. And from the foster-father of this child will come the knowledge of what it means to be a man and what it means to love like a man and worship God as a man.

This child, who knew from the moment of His birth that He was God was trusted to two parents who were to help Him understand what this great mystery meant.

In the same way, we come to understand our human condition from our own parents. This means that some of us understand some aspects of it better than others. Depending on our parents, we may be more inclined to "head" thinking or "heart" thinking, or to some ideal balance between the two. Depending on our parents we will understand to a greater or lesser degree our interdependence and our common lot with the remainder of humanity.

But it is up to the working of the Holy Spirit and the Father in heaven to help us understand how Christ lives within us and what that means. When we stand by the creche this Christmas, we do well to bring to mind, that we are not even yet as that Babe in eternity. This earthly life is our gestation, our maturity for our ultimate "Christmas," our individual nativities in eternity--to be greeted by the Father who has waited so long to see us born into that life. Angels rejoice and Saints sing praises as we enter that life. And should we share in that life as we live in this passing world, O, how much better for all of those around us--what a blessing to them and to the entire world.

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If time permits, more about this later.

I suppose it is politically incorrect to continue a fast on a feast day. I'll have to look it up. On the other hand, could there possibly be a better way to honor this great Saint? (Other than to immerse oneself in contemplation--which is a dicey proposition at best when viewed as a goal.)

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Dies Irae

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I will repeat, I am not a traditionalist.

I make this point for effect because I will follow it with the statement that as a "centrist" in Church matters, I find myself wondering what anyone could possibly find to object to in such a lovely chant. (Click the MP3 link) I think of the magnificent thunder of Mozart's requiem Mass and how I wouldn't want that Dies Irae sung at my own funeral. However, what can be found in this chant other than the perfect serenity of God's wisdom and will?

Why do people rage against the Latin Mass? I don't understand. I might not choose to make it my daily Mass, but if it were reinstituted, I wonder whether it might not have a reviving effect upon the Church as a whole? When beauty and holiness are together celebrated and the human spirit uplifted, what can be the fault or flaw?

Part of the resistance stems, I think, from the less than positive spirit with which some who desire the return treat others who, for whatever cause, resist it. Too long, it seems, this glorious part of tradition has been unduly suppressed, for reasons that I cannot comprehend. I think these decisions are often made by people who have a great deal more information to hand than I do. But I would suggest that evidence indicates that the information may have been misinterpreted.

I join my prayers to those who are begging God daily for the indult that seems just around the corner. And I pray that the indult stands long after the man who engineered it has gone to his rest. This is too valuable and too lovely a thing to have lost for so long.

And, I add to that prayers that those who are liturgically right-minded might exert some effort into turning the vernacular mass into the living image of this great Mass. There is absolutely nothing that stand in the way of great poetry, great beauty, and great prayer in the English Language. May the leaden-eared be passed over and a new and Godly, orthodox group of believers begin to forge anew in our own tongue the beauty inherent in this ancient one.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Catholic Church category from December 2006.

Catholic Church: November 2006 is the previous archive.

Catholic Church: January 2007 is the next archive.

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