We believe that the Mass, celebrated by the priest representing the person of Christ by virtue of the power received through the Sacrament of Orders, and offered by him in the name of Christ and the members of His Mystical Body, is the sacrifice of Calvary rendered sacramentally present on our altars. We believe that as the bread and wine consecrated by the Lord at the Last Supper were changed into His body and His blood which were to be offered for us on the cross, likewise the bread and wine consecrated by the priest are changed into the body and blood of Christ enthroned gloriously in heaven, and we believe that the mysterious presence of the Lord, under what continues to appear to our senses as before, is a true, real and substantial presence.
Yes, Jesus died, he “descended” into the mysterious depths into which death leads. He entered into the ultimate solitude into which no one can accompany us, for “being dead” is above all loss of communication. It is isolation where love does not penetrate. In this sense Christ descended “into hell,” whose essence is precisely the loss of love, being cut of from God and man. But wherever he goes, “hell” ceases to be hell, because he himself is life and love, because he is the bridge which connects man and God and thereby also connects men among themselves. And thus the descent is at the same time also transformation. The final solitude no longer exists—except, at most, for the one who wants it, who rejects love form within and from its foundation, because he seeks only himself, wants to be from and for himself.
—Fr. Joseph Ratzinger, Meditations on Holy Week
Today there is a great silence on earth; great silence and solitude too; great silence because the king sleeps. The earth was afraid and was still because God in the flesh was asleep.
—Ancient homily for Holy Saturday
Image: Descent into Hell, Duccio
Why should that matter? you ask. After all, many of us are as tepid in our belief as the proverbial Unitarian who believes that there is, at most, one God. What is wrong with a society that believes in none? The usual answer follows the lines of an observation by Arthur Schlesinger (and others) that “the declining faith in the supernatural has been accompanied by the rise of the monstrous totalitarian creeds of the 20th century.” Or as Chesterton put it, “The trouble when people stop believing in God is not that they thereafter believe in nothing; it is that they thereafter believe in anything.” In this century, “anything” has included Hitler, Stalin and Mao, authors of the great genocidal madnesses of our time.
Nobody understands the nature of the Church, or the ringing note of the creed descending from antiquity, who does not realize that the whole world once very nearly died of broadmindedness and the brotherhood of all religions.
If there is one fact we really can prove, from the history that we really do know, it is that despotism can be a development, often a late development and very often indeed the end of societies that have been highly democratic. A despotism may almost be defined as a tired democracy. As fatigue falls on a community, the citizens are less inclined for that eternal vigilance which has truly been called the price of liberty; and they prefer to arm only one single sentinel to watch the city while they sleep.
Marriage must be color-blind, but it cannot be gender-blind. The color of two people’s skin has nothing to do with marriage; but the sexual difference between a man and a woman is central to what marriage is.
The world may disagree with the Church, but the world knows very definitely with what it is disagreeing. In the future as in the past, the Church will be intolerant about the sanctity of marriage, for what God has joined together no man shall put asunder; she will be intolerant about her creed, and be ready to die for it, for she fears not those who kill the body, but rather those who have the power to cast body and soul into hell.
“There is no dignity when the human dimension is eliminated from the person. In short, the problem with pornography is not that it shows too much of the person, but that it shows far too little.” - Pope John Paul II, Theology of the Body
Jesus Christ made wine, not a medicine, but a sacrament. But Omar makes it, not a sacrament, but a medicine. He feasts because life is not joyful; he revels because he is not glad. ‘Drink,’ he says, ‘for you know not whence you come nor why. Drink, for you know not when you go nor where. Drink, because the stars are cruel and the world as idle as a humming-top. Drink, because there is nothing worth trusting, nothing worth fighting for. Drink, because all things are lapsed in a base equality and an evil peace.’ So he stands offering us the cup in his hands. And in the high altar of Christianity stands another figure in whose hand also is the cup of the vine. ‘Drink,’ he says, ‘for the whole world is as red as this wine with the crimson of the love and wrath of God. Drink, for the trumpets are blowing for battle, and this is the stirrup cup. Drink, for this is my blood of the New Testament that is shed for you. Drink, for I know whence you come and why. Drink, for I know when you go and where.’
G.K. Chesterton in Heretics
A Service ofgkchestertonquote)
Men who begin to fight the Church for the sake of freedom and humanity end by flinging away freedom and humanity if only they may fight the Church.
My conscience is the tribunal of Pilate… as often as I choose to speak the uncharitable word, do the dishonest action, or consent to the evil thought, I say in so many words, “Release Barabbas unto me.” And to choose Barabbas means to crucify Christ.
The poor you have always with you” (Jn 12:8). And yet it is rather easy to look at the derelict poor and consider self-inflicted the scars from alcohol and drugs that mar their faces—easy to harbor disdain for their indecency. But then surely we sometimes miss a lonely man’s eyes looking up in a wish that his face will not provoke this time a glance of revulsion. And perhaps the same look of these eyes was also in the eyes of Jesus as he carried the cross to Calvary.
Thanks to Niko for this link.