07 August 2005

Showing true colors

I ran across something this morning which seems to hint at Cardinal Mahony's intentions in performing the liturgy the way he does.

He gave a talk in Bellevue, Washington, in late May. The Archbishop of Seattle, Alex Brunett, wrote an article about it in "The Catholic Northwest Progress" on June 2. The tone of the article can only be described by invoking an extremely vulgar phrase which I shall not use. However, along the way, the Archbishop managed to convey a distinct lack of familiarity with aspects of Eucharistic devotion:

"Too often in the past, we Catholics have thought about the Eucharistic presence as simply a static reality or human body. This has led to some notable misconceptions about Jesus’ Eucharistic presence. For instance some Catholics in their devotions have considered Jesus a prisoner in the tabernacle who is lonely and waits for us to visit Him."

Without questioning that, for some souls, any such concept can get over-emphasized at certain stages, the Archbishop might want to proceed with caution before using a word like "misconceptions," especially when that exact idea led to the development of the spirituality of one Thérèse Martin. At this website, we read:
"Moreover it was a prayer card of Jesus, the Divine Prisoner in the tabernacle, that inspired Therese to be His Little flower of love. Painted on the card, which was given to Therese by her sister Pauline, was a little flower growing towards Jesus in the tabernacle. It was on its stem that Pauline wrote her name. Wishing to emulate this, St. Therese wrote, “The little flower of the Divine Prisoner told me so many things that I was immersed in them. Seeing Pauline’s name written at the bottom of the little flower, I wished Therese’s name could be there too and so I offered myself to Jesus to be His little flower.”

Since St. Thérèse is a Doctor of the Church, and the Archbishop is not, yet, and since St. Julian Eymard and others have expressed this same idea, and there are religious orders whose devotional charism includes this concept of our Lord's voluntary and extreme humility in putting Himself entirely at our disposal (which, unfortunately, is what happens to Him all too often), the Archbishop might want to temper his tone.

But then, you have to believe it's Jesus. Apparently, those of us who've become afflicted with that conviction since reading John 6 are out of step with The Spirit of Vatican Two. As the Archbishop reminds us:

"As Cardinal Mahony’s comments and my pastoral letter on the Eucharist, Sign of Unity, Bond of Love, make clear the Year of the Eucharist is an opportunity to think about our Eucharistic devotions in a new way, but first we must learn to see the Eucharist not as a human body but as an event happening in our lives."

With all due respect to the Archbishop, it's easy to find a couple of contrary texts:

"I am the living bread that has come down from heaven; if anyone eats this bread, he will live for ever. The bread which I shall give is my own flesh, given for the life of the world... my flesh is real food; my blood is real drink." John 6:51,55

Because "human nature was assumed, not absorbed", in the mysterious union of the Incarnation, the Church was led over the course of centuries to confess the full reality of Christ's human soul, with its operations of intellect and will, and of his human body. In parallel fashion, she had to recall on each occasion that Christ's human nature belongs, as his own, to the divine person of the Son of God, who assumed it. Everything that Christ is and does in this nature derives from "one of the Trinity". The Son of God therefore communicates to his humanity his own personal mode of existence in the Trinity. In his soul as in his body, Christ thus expresses humanly the divine ways of the Trinity:
The Son of God. . . worked with human hands; he thought with a human mind. He acted with a human will, and with a human heart he loved. Born of the Virgin Mary, he has truly been made one of us, like to us in all things except sin...

(Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph #470)

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