Thursday, April 30, 2009

Transparent for his light

[...] At the end remains this question: What does this saint [Germanus] have to tell us today, [being] chronologically and also culturally very far from us? I think substantially three things. The first: There is a certain visibility of God in the world, in the Church, which we should learn to perceive. God has created man in his image, but this image has been covered in so much filth from sin that consequently God is almost not seen anymore in it. Thus the Son of God became true man, perfect image of God: In Christ we can thus contemplate the face of God and learn to ourselves be true men, true images of God.

Christ invites us to imitate him, to come to be similar to him, so that in each man the face of God, the image of God, again shines through. In truth, God had prohibited in the Ten Commandments making images of God, but this was caused by the temptations to idolatry that believers could be exposed to in the context of paganism. Nevertheless, when God became visible in Christ through the incarnation, it became legitimate to reproduce the face of Christ. Holy images teach us to see God in the form of the face of Christ. After the incarnation of the Son of God, it has therefore become possible to see God in the images of Christ and also in the face of the saints, in the face of all men in whom the holiness of God shines.

The second [lesson] is the beauty and dignity of the liturgy. To celebrate the liturgy in the awareness of the presence of God, with this dignity and beauty that allows one to see a bit of his splendor, is the task of every Christian formed in his faith.

The third [lesson] is to love the Church. Precisely concerning the Church, we men are inclined to see above all its sins, the negative; but with the help of faith, which makes us capable of seeing authentically, we can also, today and always, rediscover in her the divine beauty. It is in Church where God makes himself present, offers himself in the holy Eucharist and remains present for adoration. In the Church, God speaks with us, in the Church, "God walks with us," as St. Germanus says. In the Church, we receive the forgiveness of God and we learn to forgive.

Let us pray to God so that he teaches us to see in the Church his presence, his beauty, to see his presence in the world, and that he helps us also to be transparent for his light.
(The end of a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today [Thursday, April 30, 2009] at the general audience in St. Peter's Square, part of a catechetical series he is giving about great writers of the Church in the Middle Ages. Full text here.)

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Dumbstruck by the Mystery

...our temptation is always to impose our prejudices or our measure on reality -- except when we are faced with a fact that leaves us dumbstruck, and instead of dominating the fact ourselves, we are dominated, overcome by it. If there were no moments of this kind, the Mystery could do anything, but in the end, we would reduce everything to the usual explanation. But not even a Nobel Prize winner can stop himself from being dumbstruck before an absolutely gratuitous gesture. If there were not these moments, we would find answers, explanations, and interpretations to avoid being struck by anything. It is good that some things happen that we cannot dominate, then we have to take them seriously, and this is the great question of philosophy. If the conditions for the possibility of knowledge (see Kant) impose themselves on reality or if there is something that is so powerfully disproportionate that it does not let itself be "grasped" by the conditions of possibility, then the horizon opens. If this were not the case, then we could dominate everything and be in peace, or at least without drama. Instead, not even the intelligence of a Nobel Prize winner could prevent him from coming face-to-face with a fact that made him dumbstruck -- instead of dominating, it was he who was dominated. Here begins the drama, because I am called to answer. It is the drama that unfolds between us and the Mystery, through certain facts, certain moments, in which the Mystery imposes itself with this evidence. These are facts that we cannot put in our pocket, which we cannot reduce to antecedent factors.
-- Julian Carron in "Friends, that is, Witnesses."