Meditations and Reflections: February 2004 Archives

Someone It Would Be Better Not to Know


from The Spoils of Poynton
Henry James

It was hard to believe that a woman could look presentable who had been kept awake for hours by the wallpaper in her room; yet none the less, as in her fresh widow's weeds she rustled across the hall, she was sustained by the consciousness, which always added to the unction of her social Sundays that she was, as usual the only person in the house incapable of wearing in her preparation the horrible stamp of the same exceptional smartness that would be conspicuous in a grocer's wife. She would rather have perished than have looked endimanchée.

It would be better not to know this person, and yet too often we ARE this person. Perhaps not in matters of attire or anything so seemingly superficial. But it seems to be a quality of the human animal that we must make us/them distinctions. "Oh, we would never go to THAT restaurant, they make lima bean souffle with lard." "Oh we couldn't worship at that church, they hold hands during the 'Our Father.'" "We couldn't consider a mass in the vernacular--it is so completely ordinary and devoid of the majesty and true worship of our Lord and King." And so on. This internal riving is ugly and unbecoming no matter what justification we drum up for it. Yes, it's perfectly fine not to care to hold hands during the 'Our Father.' (In fact, it appears to be the "rule.") Yes, preference for the Latin Mass is perfectly legitimate. It is in making a point of these distinctions that we are becoming like the woman in James's passage. We harden and abrade. We choose our own and exclude those who do not toe the line. We ridicule the One who would dine with tax collectors and prostitutes.

It is very difficult to see sometimes. But perhaps a little time could be spent profitably seeing where we build fences rather than bridges. We do our Lord no justice in supporting an idea or artifact, no matter how good, by hurting people. We do ourselves no good if our self-esteem is erected on the thousand little cuts we need to give those around us.

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from The Hidden Life--"Before the Face of God II"
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

"Through him, with him, and in him in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father, for ever and ever." With these solemn words, the priest ends the eucharistic prayer at the center of which is the mysterious event of the consecration. These words at the same time encapsulate the prayer of the church: honor and glory to the triune God through, with, and in Christ. Although the words are directed to the Father, all glorification of the Father is at the same time glorification of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the prayer extols the majesty that the Father imparts to the Son and that both impart to the Holy Spirit from eternity to eternity.

All praise of God is through, with, and in Christ. Through him, because only through Christ does humanity have access to the Father and because his existence as God-man and his work of salvation are the fullest glorification of the Father; with him, because all authentic prayer is the fruit of union with Christ and at the same time buttresses this union, and because in honoring the Son one honors the Father and vice versa; in him, because the praying church is Christ himself, with every individual praying member as a part of his Mystical Body, and because the Father is in the Son and the Son the reflection of the Father, who makes his majesty visible. The dual meanings of through, with, and in clearly express the God-man's mediation.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Meditations and Reflections category from February 2004.

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