Daily Archives: April 5, 2006

A moment of frightful silence…

For any of you who have an interest in interfaith dialogue and the meaning of the “religions”, get a hold of a copy of Ratzinger’s “Truth and Tolerance: Christian belief and World Religions”. It is a ripper.

I was bowled over by this bit, which appears on page 209, and is in reference to JPII’s encyclical “Veritatis Splendor”. Ratzinger begins by quoting Die Zeit’s review of the encyclical by Jan Ross:

“The voice of the Pope, he says, “has given courage to many people and to entire nations and has sounded hard and piercingly in many people’s ears and has even aroused hatred; but when it falls silent, that will be a moment of frightful silence.” And indeed, if no one talks about God and man, about sin and grace, about death and eternal life, any more, then all the shouting and all the noise there is will only be a vain attempt to deceive ourselves about the voice of true humanity falling silent.

It seems to me that there is perhaps an even more frightful silence: not just the impossible thought that the Bishop of Rome might cease to speak God’s Word to us, but the horrible possibility that God’s own Word itself might be rendered silent in all the earth. Perhaps that is what is meant by Rev 8:1 “When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.” May there never be such a silence upon earth!

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Reducing the Triduum

Now I’ve heard everything (or at least a bit more than I have heard before). I have recently been alerted to a move in some circles to discourage parishes away from the practice of reading the cycle of Old Testament readings at the Easter Vigil in darkness or semi-darkness. They claim that to do so is to suggest that before Christ came all was darkness. The problem with that? It is, apparently, a snub against our Jewish brothers and sisters, let alone all other religions.

But hold on a moment: Whatever happened to “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” etc.? Isn’t the whole point of the Darkness, Night, Light and Fire symbolism of the Easter Vigil that the Light of Christ has come into the world?

Where on earth did this idea spring from? I certainly haven’t heard any complaints from the Jewish community on this. Next they will be complaining about the reading of St John’s Passion on Good Friday… What? Really? They already do? Well, OK then, if we get rid of Good Friday AND the Easter Vigil, there’s not much left but to go and join the local synagogue in celebrating Pesach…

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Could he have been a she?

While I am waiting to get my hands on another copy of “Missing Mary” by Charlene Spretnak, I have emailed her asking her to explain briefly her assertion that emphasising the Church’s traditional teaching on Mary doesn’t compromise the attempt to “get people to think of God as much female as male”.

It seems to me that there are two very clear issues:

1) Mary is feminine
2) Jesus is masculine

Its easy to say this because they were human.

God is a more difficult matter, because we acknowledge that as Creator he is above and beyond created gender. Furthermore, we know that human beings image God as “male and female” and not simply as male alone. Nevertheless the scriptural tradition more often speaks of God as “father” than “mother”; and never speaks of God as “wife” although God is often spoken of as “husband”. This fits right in with the two facts given above:

1) Mary is a woman, the “spouse” of the Holy Spirit, the “Queen” of Heaven to her son’s “King”.
2) Jesus, the “image of the invisible God”  (Col 1:15) is male.

And a third NT witness:

3) Christ is male spouse to his “bride” the Church.

So, could Jesus just as easily and just as well have imaged God had he been a she? Was there, so to speak, a 50/50 chance that he could have been a woman? Or was there some intrinsic reason why the Christ had to male, and is that reason intrinsic to God or to humanity?

Those who like things to fit into a neat scheme will, it seems to me, be drawn toward the following conclusions:

God = Father, therefore Male; Mary = Female, therefore Mother.
Jesus = Male, therefore Bridegroom; Church = Bride, therefore Female.

(Note that I have kept the chiastic relation of this scheme)

Mind you, I am a bit uncomfortable when people portray the above scheme as if Mary were the fourth person of the “Trinitarian Family” with Mary as Mom and God as Dad, and Jesus and the Holy Spirit as the kids with us as adopted children of this happy family. I have never heard it put quite this crassly, but I have heard explications that come close, especially from the “Catholic right” (Scott Hahn would be an example).

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